5 Reasons People Abandon a Sick Friend

1348272_25036285-1In October 2008, at the age of 24, I was diagnosed and hospitalized for Myasthenia Gravis, MG, a neuromuscular autoimmune hurricane disease.  One of my long-time friends since high school, Ken, told me he would visit me at the hospital right away.  I waited.  And waited.  Two weeks somehow became five years.  I haven’t seen him since.  Like a dozen of my high school friends, he attended the many annual Christmas parties I hosted pre-MG.  While most people stuck by me, a few friends like Ken left.  It  hurt to look at old pictures because I wondered if those relationships were ever genuine.  But I decided to keep them because it was real for me and, besides, I looked great in those pictures.

5 Reasons Friends Leave:

1.  Fear of Death:  Pardon my French but hearing that a friend has been diagnosed with a serious illness can scare the crap out of people.  It forces them to confront their own mortality and acknowledge that we’re not in total control of our destiny.

2.  Fear For Us:  The irony is that some people love us so much that they are scared for us…too scared to stay.  They can’t stand seeing a loved one in pain or watching that person die if he/she doesn’t make it.

3.  Fake Friends:  Five years into MG, I’ve gained perspective and realized some “friends” were never true friends—many of those relationships were one-sided.  I was always giving while the other party was always taking. That being said, it’s also important not to make hasty judgments.  Judge a friendship over time—not one moment in time.  Even though I lost some friends after getting MG, that was not the case with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Bipolar Disorder diagnoses.  But my friend, Carol, who has Lupus and Bipolar Disorder, did lose friends after getting diagnosed with Bipolar.  (Part of that is mental health stigma.  When people are educated, however, some of them change and support their friends.)

4.  Inexperience:  Some friends who have not experienced loss cannot fathom our daily pain and fatigue.  This is especially true when a friend has an invisible illness—diseases that cannot be seen.  Examples of invisible diseases are mental illnesses like Depression and neurological disorders like Fibromyalgia.  Some people with MG are told “but you don’t look sick” because they don’t carry a cane like I do for  MG.

5.  Dunbar’s Number:  This is the least explored explanation.  According to anthropologist Robin Dunbar, our brains can only handle 148 meaningful relationships at one time.  (Having 1,500 Facebook friends ≠ 1,500 meaningful relationships.)  Have you ever had a moment when you ran into an old friend and reconnected instantly?  It made you wonder how you ever lost touch; it’s possible that your friend had his/her own dragons to slay while you were fighting illness.  Recently I left a church I attended for nineteen years.  I’m making a concerted effort to make friends at my new church.   As I make this transition and meet other people (like cool followers of this blog), I find it harder to maintain friendships from my old church though I’m trying my best.  This is a complication that accompanies life-changing events like becoming sick, getting married, or having a child.

Being Open Despite the Pain

Juggling-Get It?
Juggling-Get It?

Because I have to work while juggling all my illnesses, a Herculean task, I don’t run after long-time friends who left .  I let things evolve organically.  For example, last year I ran into an old-friend, “T,” who never once visited me in the hospital or at home.  It was confusing and painful. “T” and I used to go to concerts and movies together.

When we saw each other again, we had lunch.  It was wonderful.  But even now I’m not entirely sure why she left.  Letting T back into my life has been a blessing.  It’s up to each person whether he or she chooses to forgive.  Either choice is understandable.  I forgive because I am a Christian.  Also I’d like to be forgiven if I make the same mistake one day.  We’re all human and therefore fallible.  Letting go of the bitterness and accepting that I may not get all the answers has been liberating.

 

–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno 

 

JessicaGimeno

Hi, I have five illnesses--bipolar disorder, myasthenia gravis (neuromuscular autoimmune disease), polycystic ovarian syndrome, asthma, and psoriasis. Most of the organs in my body are affected. I'm dedicated to being a stylist for sick women. As someone who has experienced changes in my appearance due to my 12 meds (including Prednisone), I know how hard it can be when your face and body change overnight. (In fact, because of treatment, between 2008 to 2010, I went from a size 0 to a size 10. While I lost the weight, there are permanent changes in my face and body, which I've grown to appreciate.) My blog will also help women deal with other issues like surviving chronic pain and fatigue. Healthy people can also use this blog as a window into what life with illness is like. Let this website be a place where we can draw strength from each other despite our illnesses and find solutions to our everyday challenges!

56 thoughts on “5 Reasons People Abandon a Sick Friend

  • January 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm
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    Great post. It is sad but true and I am glad you took the time to write about it.
    Carrie, the Just Mildly Medicated gal 😉

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  • January 10, 2014 at 7:16 am
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    First I am very sorry that this disease has come your way. There will be wonderful people in your life who will always be there for you. Count on it. However, you are young. You are at an age where you are in love with your friends. You might be expecting too much and getting your heart broken. That might sound like blame, I do not mean it that way. I just mean that those friendships started based on other things than serious illness. I am glad that you are ready to forgive them for being thrown by it. Some will come back.

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    • January 10, 2014 at 11:02 am
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      Thanks for the feedback. I agree that we don’t know what the future holds.

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    • March 23, 2014 at 9:43 pm
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      *sigh* I get so discouraged when I see people making judgments about other people’s lives. Terese how do you know this young lady is “in love with her friends”? How do you know she might be expecting too much and getting her heart broken? I am 56 years old and was diagnosed with a catastrophic illness 2 years ago. I had very similar experiences to Jessica’s. Many people left- life-long friends just vanished or were busy or…. Some new friendships have emerged and I’ve learned a lot about human nature. I think Jessica’s explanation about why some people leave makes sense. I’m so looking forward to the day where we just accept one another without judgment or discounting people’s experiences. Thanks for your courage in posting, Jessica.

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      • March 24, 2014 at 8:07 pm
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        Dear Mary,
        Thank you so much for your encouraging comments. It does take a lot of courage for me to share these articles, and it’s nice to know that someone else appreciates it. I agree with you that illness teaches you a lot about human nature–the best and worst it has to offer. These experiences are pretty universal regardless of your age. I’m sorry that some of your friends left you. That’s part of why I started this blog and the Facebook page for it so that people with a wide variety of chronic illnesses can find support in each other. Bless your heart.

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      • March 29, 2017 at 5:32 pm
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        Thank you. Just a simple, “Thank you.” You seem to have a very caring, understanding, heart.

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  • January 11, 2014 at 10:02 am
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    I also was diagnosed with MG. It was at the age of 59 and in the 3 years since then I have realized that if you aren’t keeping up with the social scene (the parties, the ‘happy hour’ spur-of-the-moment get togethers after work, concerts, bingo, or lunch with the girls then you are definitely out on the fringe and sooner than not, untouchable. Along with the above listed reason, you are simply forgotten as the fun person you used to be to hang out with.
    I have also found that those that DO keep in touch (even a little) expect you to be available for their presence when you’ve told them about the daily ebb & flows of your disease…. ie: afternoons & evenings are tough for me but I have lots of strength in the morning.
    Now that I am ‘stable’ I have backed away from those ‘friends’ who seemed to shun me when this weak state came on, and cherish all those who don’t care that I can’t get out as much as I once did. Together we plan fun things to do in a less physical setting and have a blast. Just because I have a muscle disease doesn’t mean I ceased to be a fun person to be around!

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    • January 11, 2014 at 10:34 am
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      Hi Sue,
      That’s such a good point you make. I’m so glad that you have friends who understand what you can do and know what you’re still a fun friend to be with. It’s good that you still have true friends who have stood by you despite those who have forgotten. Thanks for sharing your experience and shedding some more light on this topic.

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  • February 22, 2014 at 2:00 am
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    I too was diagnosed with M.G at 16 years old and faced the same kind of issues in high school , and even in some of my adulthood. Its sad but some people just don’t take the time or just don’t want to understand especially with M.G. just because people can’t always see it on the outside doesn’t mean we aren’t going through it on the inside. It isn’t easy..

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    • March 2, 2014 at 1:06 am
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      Yes it’s true that having an invisible illness can sometimes make it harder to show empathy. I also believe that when people can’t pronounce an illness they’ve never heard of, it’s harder for them to be compassionate.

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  • February 22, 2014 at 8:27 am
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    Thanks. It explains my MG journey. Going to forward to a few other partners in chronic illness. Keep on writing.

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  • March 5, 2014 at 7:05 pm
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    I am so sad for those who suffer the loss of friends in addition to suffering with painful illnesses. It makes me feel extra grateful for my family, particularly my husband, who are very supportive. I forget that not everyone is so blessed.

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    • May 8, 2014 at 9:30 pm
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      Hello, thank you so much for your empathy and taking the time to comment. (I’m trying to respond to every reader…but I’m tired a lot.) I agree. In the midst of the chaos, we should always remember to be grateful for family if we’re blessed enough to have helpful family. –Blessings, Jessica

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  • March 5, 2014 at 7:13 pm
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    Nice explanations. My illness (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome) is invisible, so people think I look healthy. I understand that people don’t understand long-term illnesses. They just expect you to get better.

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    • March 6, 2014 at 10:44 am
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      Hi Lisa, thanks for the feedback! Ehlers Danos is something I’d like to learn more about. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I think you bring up a great point about long-term illness: it’s harder to be supportive of someone who has an illness that has no “finish line” so to speak. We’re trained by movies, TV, and society to think everything should have an ending, every trial is temporary, and that there’s a light at the end of every tunnel. I share my story not just for chronically ill people but for people who’ve never been through what we’re going through–that they may better understand what we’re feeling.

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  • March 5, 2014 at 7:19 pm
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    I have been living with heart disease for 7 years. It has been my experience that healthy people don’t ‘get’ it. Thanks for writing this blog.

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  • March 5, 2014 at 7:39 pm
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    Thank you for this insightful article! I’d also add that often we can’t hold up our end of the relationship as well as we used to, and that contributes to the isolation. I’ve had fibromyalgia and depression for 15 years and had a 6-year battle with leukemia during that time as well. I’m just not as fun as I used to be, and the physical, emotional and financial toll these years have taken often sideline me. Add to that the misunderstandings about fibro and depression, along with the discomfort of being with someone who has changed so much, and it starts to feel pretty lonely. Thanks for writing about this important topic that so often is brushed aside in the drive to be “positive.”

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    • March 6, 2014 at 10:50 am
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      Hi Dianne,
      You bring up an excellent point–something I’ve been coming to terms with recently. In my friendships, I was the one who initiated things. Now that I’m tired it’s harder for me to organize things. The more honest I’ve been about my limitations, some family and friends have taken greater initiative to organize events whether it’s one-on-one lunch, a visit, or something like Christmas or my birthday. I’m sorry you have to juggle Fibro and Depression. I agree with you that society has unintentionally confused positivity with hiding our true feelings. (Admitting you’re in pain doesn’t create your pain. Your illness did that for you. You’re just telling the truth. I blogged about this in greater detail here: http://jessicagimeno.com/?p=868)
      Thank you for your insight.

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      • March 9, 2014 at 5:50 pm
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        “I agree with you that society has unintentionally confused positivity with hiding our true feelings. (Admitting you’re in pain doesn’t create your pain. Your illness did that for you. You’re just telling the truth. I blogged about this in greater detail here: http://jessicagimeno.com/?p=868)
        Thank you for your insight.”

        In addition to my own depression, debilitating ADD, (yes, debilitating!), several sleep issues, etc… I am familiar with the phenomenon of people only wanting to be around ‘happy’ people, fun people, or at least people who don’t ‘complain’ about their health problems. They get tired of hearing the same old answers to the same old questions.

        I’ve been reading about endometriosis in order to get some clarity since we are starting to believe my Partner has been suffering greatly from it. Aside from that torment, she has had other chronic pain issues, things that limit her energy, or her mobility. I started to tell people that if you aren’t actually bleeding profusely, or if you don’t have a major body part that is obviously ready to fall off… people not only have little empathy, but they can also be self-righteous about it. I really like what you said about disclosing pain or suffering can be looked at as ‘negativity’, or as actually ‘drawing’ your pain to you.

        These gentle folks are supposedly well-meaning, but I think it keys in to a huge well of fear. We can all find ourselves afraid of what would happen were ‘WE’ the ones to get ill, run over, shot… whatever… So to believe that terrible pain can exist in a state unaffected by our lofty attitudes can be scary or even depressing. It is basically a selfish reaction to fear of losing our own health, and an unwillingness to accept that we cannot always make ‘bad’ things go away… I can have some empathy for that fear, however, with so many folks suffering from invisible things, or unrecognized or undiagnosed illnesses, I have much more empathy for folks like us. It is a lonely place, full of judgement, loneliness, and even shunning. We used to think Cancer was contageous! We know so little, really, about ourselves and the mind-body connection, and also the limits to the mind-body connection. Thanks for this forum… It does help.

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  • March 5, 2014 at 8:12 pm
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    This happens alot with illnesses. I was diagnosed with a rather severe case of Tourette Syndrome in my early/mid teens. I was trapped a home for a long while, unable to walk much due to the severity of my health. A lot of people both in church and out walked out of my life, due to the “distractions” I caused, or because of they couldn’t face what was going on. Even now, getting jobs is hard, due to the media making light of it, and misinforming people about the disorder. From what I’ve seen it’s a mixture (in my case) of people being uneducated (for instance, according to society, I have the cussing disease), or because people want to fix the problem and can’t. While it’s a struggle to move on, I am trying because as a Christian, I should forgive and move on. Thanks for the post. It’s nice to know others are out there struggling the same as I, and overcoming the hurt of the past.

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    • March 6, 2014 at 10:53 am
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      Dear Rachel,
      I’m sorry to hear about the discrimination people with Tourette’s face. You bring up a good point about the role of media and pop culture in cultivating misunderstanding and fostering discrimination. I hope that over time people will develop a greater compassion for those living with Tourette’s. I am glad you have your faith. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  • March 5, 2014 at 10:03 pm
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    I have MS and have gone thorough some of the same things. Thanks for writimg this!

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  • March 5, 2014 at 10:16 pm
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    As a Christian I am also trying to forgive unsupportive and fearful people. But it’s my pastors who are leading the effort to reject me from my church of 30 years since I became disabled by Ehlers-Danlos. This from the most inclusive and liberal church in town, in a very liberal town, in the most diverse state (maybe other than California). It’s wrong, and the guy gets away with it because people love him and he can do no wrong, but his obnoxious behavior towards me shows he’s an insecure, self-hating bully who is terrified of being found out. He’s still faking, not making, at being a confident, sincere and empathetic human who deserves the respect afforded to one in his position. He’s the type who can’t work well with others and has to be his own boss.

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  • March 5, 2014 at 10:52 pm
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    Your words are so true. As a mom, it is heartbreaking watching this happen to your child. I know the friends that don’t hang around aren’t true friends but it is so hard to explain to your child. It is also hard to make new friends when you are not feeling well. Thank you for sharing! It truly hit home!

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  • March 5, 2014 at 11:40 pm
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    It is not a matter of forgiveness to me, but I do not blame my friends. I think we’ve all moved on in our lives and left others behind. Distance, change of employment or other life events can cause these losses.
    I know what I’ve become and so do friends. Expecting them to always come to me can make things difficult. Pencil in a visit, if it goes south, cancel. Try again.
    The few friends I have make next to no contact, save for one. He as you mentioned is fading after years of trying to see me.

    I find it difficult, my life and personality have changed and so has my age.
    It’s difficult to think of anyone but ourselves, so we may lose touch just from that alone. I’m nearly all I talk about, so I try to be quiet around others, and that is a big change for me.

    I hope everyone gets healthy, or feels better soon. Call that old friend, settle it. It’s baggage. Something sick people shouldn’t carry.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 12:12 am
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    I have an invisible illness as well. I have Cystic Fibrosis. It’s hard to ignore the stares when I park in a handicap spot and step out of my vehicle because I don’t look sick. Despite undergoing 2 separate double lung transplants my body/lungs aren’t on the same page medically and so many people are under-educated about all the invisible diseases. I also have diabetes which is another invisible disease. Blogs like this one can go far in educated the public about invisible diseases.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 2:18 am
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    When I had a motorcycle accident in ’05, my life was completely turned upside down within two years. Unable to keep a job due to my physical limitations and chronic pain led to foreclosure on my house, repo of my vehicle and suicidal depression. I left southwest Colorado and moved to Denver. Many people who lived where I moved from would come to Denver over the course of the last 5 years for one reason or another, but not a SINGLE one of them ever contacted me to meet up. I finally stopped mentioning that if they were in Denver, I’d love to get together, because it hurt too much when I found out they were here and never let me know. I realized then where I stood. I did a whole lot of Facebook purging at that moment, but I still have a couple of people that I should probably “unFriend” but it’s been hard for me to burn those bridges. I still have medical issues related to the accident that limit my activity, so I have no friends here, either. I’ve come to rely on Facebook to have at least some semblance of non-work human contact.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 4:14 am
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    I remember when I was the, very young and naive, friend who wasn’t there. I went to hospital and visited my friend but didn’t know what to say and so tried to buy a book that conveyed my understanding and well wishes – which naturally went unread. I didn’t want to be intrusive and my friend didn’t have the energy to reach out to me. I often thought about her and hoped she was doing well but it was years before we met again.

    Hospitals should hand out a little guide on how to be a friend to someone who is ill because a lot of us are such blundering idiots when it comes to this.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 5:36 am
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    Thank you for this! I have Intracranial Hypertension. What I hate is when I volunteer to help at church for something and I get the “oh, that’s ok. We have it covered.” and then I hear later them complaining that they can’t get anyone to help. I keep telling people to please ask me to help with things. I had ONE person say that they didn’t ask because they didn’t want to make me feel bad if I couldn’t do it. I told them if I can’t do it, I will tell you no, but please let me be the one to decide.
    It gets very frustrating, but I just try to focus on my awesome husband and 2 boys who love me no matter what! Maybe one day I will have someone that I can call when I have great news or someone to share and hang out with. But for now…

    Even worse than myself, is my 18 yo son that has Ehlers-Danlos, Fibro, and CRPS. Lifelong friends abandoned him when he became ill 3 years ago. What was really bad was when parents refused to let him be invited to their kids parties and all the other kids in the youth group were invited. Sometimes as a parent, I just want to say something to them, but he always said no. Now he is at college, 1000 miles away, and doing great, interning at an awesome job , traveling, making TONS of friends and having a BLAST!!! Guess what??? Now all his friends back home are jealous and mad because he didn’t go to the college that is close to home and my son said he could honestly care less because he is so happy at college. The kids here at home are the ones who lost out when they could have an awesome friend!

    I find, for me, I try to talk about anything other than my illness, but that is all others seem to be able to focus on when talking to me. When they ask me how I am feeling, I tell them I am ok (hey! I am out of the house, so that is good.). Then some started to be able to tell when I was really just putting a smile on my face, but feeling awful. They told me that I was lying to them and I needed to be honest. So, I started being honest…now they won’t speak to me because I started saying things like “well today is tough, or I’m not feeling great today.” I never went into detail too much because I didn’t want to overwhelm them, but I would be honest and they got upset about that. I just can’t win. So, now I am back to I am “okay” all the time. *sigh* Sometimes I would really like to move and get a fresh start where no one knows me.

    It is just so hard because it seems like I am only allotted a tablespoon of compassion in this life and I have used that up already so I am just out of luck. It is also hard, because as soon as something goes wrong in their life, I am the first one they email to complain to and ask to pray for them, so it is really hard to not hold a grudge when I very well could.

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    • March 7, 2014 at 10:41 am
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      Dear Angela, I’m sorry to hear about a lot of the ignorance and insensitivity you face. I am happy, however, to hear about all your son has accomplished despite illness. In fact, I’ve been looking to learn a lot more about Ehlers-Danlos. On Fashionably ill’s Facebook page, I had a poll asking readers if they would like me to interview them (print interviews) and we would post their stories on this blog. The overwhelming thing I keep hearing from people with a wide variety of illnesses is that they wish their family and friends and society knew what it felt like. If you’re interested in sharing your story with me (we can change your name if you’d like), just let me know-either here or on Facebook. I think you bring up some great points that could help a lot of people–sometimes you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t where honesty is concerned. And the aspect of parents passing down fear and perpetuating discrimination through their behavior is something people need to know about. Thanks for sharing your insights!

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      • March 10, 2014 at 11:12 pm
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        I have a pluthera of illnesses;
        Dystonia, a movement disorder. Degenerative Disk Disease depression, spinal stenosis, etc.
        Everything hearts everyday! I want to run away, I have 1 friend and a husband who is a blessing. I feel like a burdain to all. I feel like a failure to my son who is 8.5yrs old and has 4 distinked disabilities and I rarely can keep up with or help him. This just causes more depression. Help

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  • March 6, 2014 at 6:54 am
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    I know how the loss of a friendship (for any reason) can hurt or be confusing but I am curious…couldn’t you forgive if you weren’t ‘christian’? What if you were jewish or islamic. How about just forgiving because you are a loving human being.

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    • March 6, 2014 at 9:59 am
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      Hi Donna,
      I understand what you’re saying. Some of my best friends are Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, Agnostic, and Atheist. I wasn’t saying that only Christians forgive. I provided that detail about myself because in the previous sentence, I said forgiveness is a choice and either choice is understandable. I try to avoid writing things like “you should forgive” in my blog because I haven’t walked in every reader’s shoes. I gave my reasons for forgiveness—one of which includes my faith. Indeed, there are powerful examples of people without faith or different belief systems who have exercised forgiveness. But people are born with different temperaments—I’m thinking of the “nature versus nurture” dilemma. With four illnesses the biggest motivator for me to forgive is following Christ’s example—in my case, nurture (faith) overpowers my nature.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 11:18 am
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    This is something I have wanted to write about for a long time, but have never been able to find the words, and now I know why…you said it PERFECTLY! Thank you so much for sharing this. I first saw it on a Myositis group page, and I have since shared it on two different caregiving sites. Thank you so so much!!!! You have helped a lot of people today <3

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    • March 6, 2014 at 12:58 pm
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      Wow! Was really tired today. Your feedback really helps me keep moving forward. I would love to learn more about Myositis. Thank you so much for sharing with others. Bless your heart.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 12:51 pm
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    I like the way you write and I’ll be following. Hang on in there!

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    • March 6, 2014 at 12:55 pm
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      Thanks for the encouragement. Glad to have you with me on this journey.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 1:08 pm
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    I understand this completely… After being diagnosed over the course of my life with PTSD, Acute Intermittent Porphyria, RA, and Henoch-Schonlein Purpura (this last wasn’t discovered until the symptoms flared thanks to a bout of Legionnaire’s, just this past year), I learned quickly who my real friends were, and how many people only hung around because I’ve always been the kind of person to bend over backwards to help and give to (time, money, energy) others. Now that I no longer have the strength or energy to expend taking care of them (I need what I have just to make it through each day), I get to see how many people no longer have time for me. But, on the up side, it gives me an even deeper appreciation for those who HAVE stuck by me, and who stepped up to offer me support during the lowest point, last summer, when the Legionnaire’s was in full swing and the HSP was eating away (literally) at my feet and legs. And it’s all made me twice as careful about who I let into my life (which has always been difficult for me, anyway).

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    • March 6, 2014 at 11:53 pm
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      Esther, I’m so glad this article struck a chord with you. Sounds like you’ve overcome so much. I also find that what I lose makes me more thankful for what I have. I’m starting to do interviews next month with warriors fighting a wide variety of illnesses. Some of my readers are excited to share their stories on this blog. I think we could learn a lot from yours. Are you interested? For more details, see this: http://jessicagimeno.com/?p=1842

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  • March 6, 2014 at 3:35 pm
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    Great article! I have Polymyositis, a rare muscle disease, and have had this same experience. I love how you so not to force it and to let it grow organically. I have recently reconnected with one of those friends I had thought were gone for good. I am so glad I was able to forgive and now she is a huge part of my life again.

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    • March 6, 2014 at 11:50 pm
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      Dear Jerry, I’d like to learn more about Polymyositis. Thank you for sharing part of your story. It’s always great to find a profound connection with an old friend. I saw you have a blog. Would you like me to put in my “Blogs I Read” tab? http://jessicagimeno.com/?page_id=997

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  • March 6, 2014 at 8:30 pm
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    That was beautifully written and very insightful. I wrote a similar article a couple months back, but it was as in depth as yours. It’s very eye-opening to have a misunderstood or feared illness. People do not behave the way you think they might. It’s good that we have God to rely on at times like that.

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  • March 6, 2014 at 11:39 pm
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    I have been guilty of being the one to stop with contact for a period of time. I’ve never stopped to think why I did, whether it was because it was during a very difficult time for me and my family as my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer around the same time, or whether it was just fear of the unknown. I may never know.
    I have recently got back in touch with this person, and wondered to myself why it took me so long to do it. Mum has been gone 10 yrs now.
    Sometimes when we make the mistake of not maintaining contact, it becomes hard to be the one to initiate the contact again, but it is so worth it.
    Even if we get it wrong, we still can do something about it and turn it around to make it right. Don’t let fear, embarrassment or anything else stand in the way of putting yourself out there. It just might make a huge difference to someone else who is struggling.

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  • March 7, 2014 at 1:30 pm
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    Well I going on 2 years being a paraplegic . U know I’m glad for the internet so I can find these thing that I thought they would talk to me about before I left rehab. I was not the best of husband but after 15 years and being paralyzed lost my best friend and lots of friend cause of it. But have gained many new ones and reunited with old friends I’m just glad my family was and has always been there for me feels good not to feel alone another day . I am very thankful for these arcticals

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  • March 10, 2014 at 4:55 pm
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    Hi and thanks for a really interesting article, I have been lucky so far on that non of my friends has walked away from me, I have Fibromyalgia and have had it now for about 12ish years, I am aware however that I do moderate my self when talking about it because I am worried people will get fed up of me going on about it all the time and I also have days when I tell people I am fine when I am not, but being able to offload online really helps me get things of my chest so I tend to do that instead

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  • March 18, 2014 at 6:09 am
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    Thank you for this blog! My friend who also deal with chronic illness emailed it to me.

    I suffer greatly with what was diagnosed at fibromyalgia, my OBGYN found endometriosis in 2005 and the list of issues is a mile long. My rheum even tested for behcet’s. Every test comes back normal so, more and more, I get treated like I’m making it up or it’s all in my head. Yet, the pain, fatigue, muscle spasms, and weakness are so bad that I’ve been put down hard by a cold and totally non-functional since last week Monday.

    This blog post hit the nail on the head for me. I was usually the initiator and now that I’m so tired and my insomnia constantly screws up my sleep habits, people are dropping like flies out of my life. Some of them ask my husband about me every time they talk but they never call, text, email or IM me! It really hurts. Oh, and the depression. That hangs things up on my end too. Sigh.

    This gave me a little boost. A little hope. My mother insists that god can heal and I don’t doubt that but she is constantly chiding me for talking about how I feel as though I’m, “drawing it to me,” or some how impeding god from fixing it by not stuffing everything down inside myself and pretending to be ok.

    In short. Thank you. I needed this blog today. And all the comments. It’s nice to know I’m not alone in this. Finding positivity around chronic illness blogs/forums is so rare!

    And please excuse the jumbled thoughts. Another part of what I deal with is major cognitive….bleh. I read slower, thoughts are scrambled up, I forget things 5 seconds after I think them if I don’t get them out rightnow! And I’m too exhausted to spend an hour editing this for cohesiveness and clarity.
    Rambling. Thanks again!

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  • March 24, 2014 at 9:29 am
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    I have depression and some other issues and I recently wanted to make friends with a yoga teacher who is psycologist by education. But even she (strange ignorance) would tell me: do not be depressed, as if it depends on my decision and will. Or something like: do not persuade yourself (of all negative things)…. and I feel that she is unwilling to communicate, just gives me one-word answers online and never asks about me…. irony is that she is the first person I dared to start communicating with after a long period of absolute loneliness after betrayal of so-called friends who just started lying to me or ignoring me because of me feeling crazy bad etc…… so I have no friends left… I am trying to communicate on Facebook and I found a couple of people to talk to, but they live abroad, so I have no one to share time with in my real life except my parents…..

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  • May 11, 2014 at 6:59 am
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    thanks for this meaningful article…

    now i understand why they what so called friend, left me when i told them doctor says i have herpes :-s and have to do some other medical check up include hepatitis and HIV test! It was a week ago and I got my check there is no serious death illness i guess since my test said I dont have HIV….

    they only text me : OMG and they left. up until today they are disappear..

    I’m a christian too, but its hard for me to forgive them since this is my bad and hard time but they just dont care about me.. but anyway. this article somehow encourage me to be more positive:)

    God Bless You

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    • May 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm
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      Hello Leiya, I’m relieved to hear that you do not have HIV. That must have been a terrifying time–waiting for the results. I’m sad to hear about your herpes. And I’m sorry your friend left. But I’m glad that my article gave you some comfort. I hope you’ll join us on Fashionably ill’s Facebook page–you may find even greater comfort there by meeting me and other people who are in similar positions. I was thinking of you and this verse came to mind–Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.” By the way, I did this talk for WEGO Health about discussing taboo subjects–we had someone from the STD Project speak as well; you may find it informative; link here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?utm_content=5197545&utm_medium=social&v=e2ae7AZn9gY&utm_source=twitter&utm_campaign=G%2B%20Roundtable
      God bless you too, Jessica

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  • October 12, 2014 at 8:58 pm
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    After I first got diagnosed, my fiance broke things off. He point blank told me he couldn’t handle the “chronic” part of it. That it would never ever end. I still go back and forth between finding him a d-bag and being thankful he was wise enough to understand his own shortcomings and not drag me along until we were married and then want to leave. I have had friends who knew me only when I have had fibromyalgia and DDD but after four years just stopped being able to deal with it. I have had increasingly more flare-ups every year, but it still hurt to know she was ok with it one minute, and not the next. As if it is not already hard on us not being able to do everything we want to do, then people make us feel guilty about it, too. I know there are some who just are not able to deal with it and that this is their OWN shortcoming, but nothing is quite as isolating as a chronic illness.

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  • March 12, 2015 at 4:02 am
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    Thank you for sharing with us it must have been so hard to push the post button. You around a brave woman and a positive example for me.
    I have been in both sides. I also have to admit , I’m not always good kind or thankful to those who stay with me. Its so scary for all , and its terrifying for me as well.
    On the days that I feel stronger , I realize I change. It must be so hard being around me when you are trying to live busily.
    What a wonderful idea one of your readers had to make a small informative brochure of how to be a supportive friend. I think I would also need one on how to be an understanding patient and what little thingdls I can do for others still -even if its just letting them know its possible to cope. I’ve discovered why they call us “patients”.
    Thank you and God bless

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  • November 8, 2015 at 5:44 am
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    I am apparently not alone in this dilemma of having friends become absent when they learn you are ill. I admit though, it is quite painful and difficult for me to fully understand, given I am the one who is always there for others (especially in their time of need). Yet those very friends who were so grateful for my prayers, words of encouragement, support, generosity, and love have suddenly become strangers.

    I recently contracted a very serious (potentially life-threatening) health condition in conjunction with a reaction to an antibiotic. When I first learned of the diagnosis, I admit, I was scared…it doesn’t help when your colleagues (I work in the medical field) put you into an isolation room, wear protective gear, and tell you one in ten die from what you have now contracted and your prognosis is uncertain.

    I unfortunately learned of the diagnosis before I was actually admitted to the hospital and the doctors had a chance to discuss it with me. Still, it gave me a bit of time to prepare. Though I am rather private, in this instance I felt I had better reach out to a few of my closest friends and briefly explain what was going on. Also, ask if they would please include me in their prayers for healing (they are all Christian like myself).

    To my surprise, all but one of my friends (of decades) just backed off and have virtually disappeared. I did get a couple of initial emails (no calls) with one friend saying, “email me and let me know how you are doing.” And another friend didn’t even respond until my husband briefly emailed her again about the severity of my condition. Her reply was, “ I have a cold and been too busy to get back with you guys.”

    Are you kidding? Is it just me? I am very sick and you want me to contact you? I have been hospitalized and taking one day at a time, and this is the level of compassion and consideration I receive in return?

    I don’t mean to sound bitter; I am simply very hurt and disappointed. And frankly, surprised. Regardless, I am focusing on my recovery at the moment and putting my hurt feelings aside as best I can. But I admit, I am beside myself in regards as to how to proceed forward with these individuals. Part of me wants to be forgiving; the other part says, “Time to re-evaluate who your real friends are…you just received a very telling and valuable lesson here. Life is too short to be around unkind people are those who are not as invested in you as you are in them.” Yes, I will uphold these people in my prayers. But at the same time, I do feel it is wise to move forward and make some new friends. Best wishes to all of you who have written. God Bless.

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  • March 7, 2017 at 9:17 am
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    I first got sick with with MS when I was 29. I’m now 46. Not only did friends pull away but my family. It seemed almost as if they were close to me, they thought they could get ‘stuck’ taking care of me. I was at a local store once paying for an item and after handing over the paper money, I managed to drop the change all over. I apologized and absentmindedly explained I have MS and drop EVERYTHING trying to joke because the cashier seemed perturbed. So this guy starts screaming get f** out of my store! I hate people with MS etc. People on line looked down and away. I was in tears but insisted on returning my just purchased items first. I was not going to reward this behavior with an over $100 sale and my dignity. So what’s the answer for that type of hatred from a stranger?

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