Do Friends Care that I Have Crohn's?
Crohn's always seems to rear it's ugly head whenever you have plans or are looking forward to something. Days ago we had plans with family during the day and a friend's birthday party at night. I felt great until about an hour before the birthday party. Unable to stand up straight from the stabbing pains, my mind raced. We hadn't seen these friends in months. We had a babysitter. I was looking so forward to getting together and hanging out with everyone.
Before we left for the party, my husband took me home.
I could tell by his driving that he was nervous for me. I spent some time in the bathroom and contemplated whether I'd be able to put a happy face on and fight through the pain. I took a pain pill and told my husband I would be just fine. We got to the party, the medicine was kicking in. I brought wine, but knew I wouldn't be drinking any.
A few of the girls started pouring drinks and I casually said I wasn't having a good day with my Crohn's and had just taken a pain pill so I wouldn't be drinking. I added that I couldn't stand up straight about an hour ago. Instead of showing any interest or asking how I was feeling, if I needed to sit down, etc...they all just turned around and made the girl with the invisible disease actually feel invisible.
I'm a very confident and self-assured person who's been battling Crohn's for nearly 13 years.
The last thing I need is attention or validation.
But moments like this still hurt. They make your mind race and make you feel about two inches tall. Moments like this are perplexing. Is it because inflammatory bowel disease makes people feel uncomfortable? Is it because they think I want attention or pity? Is it because they genuinely couldn't care less and are sick of any "attention" the disease gives me? I just can't seem to put my finger on it. The husbands always show an interest, ask questions and seem to care, but the wives...not so much.
It's been two days since the birthday party and that moment keeps playing in my head. Are people malicious with their disinterest or are they that blissfully ignorant that they don't realize their actions are hurtful? I pride myself on always showing compassion for other people's lives, whether it's something with their child being ill or a grandparent battling an illness.
Unfortunately, compassion is rarely reciprocated.
It's moments like this that make people (especially kids and teens) who are dealing with their initial diagnosis, want to keep their story inside. If people continually show no interest and ignore you when you do choose to share, it's incredibly damaging. If you're reading this and have a friend or family member who battles a chronic illness - just ask. Ask how they are doing. Ask how they are feeling. Ask if there's anything you can do. Show you care. Crohn's is incredibly isolating, the last thing you want to feel is even more alone.
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