Why Finding Other "Sick" Friends Can Be A Blessing
Over the last year, I’ve been getting to know an acquaintance who has become a close friend. We share a lot of the same medical struggles, so it was an instant connection and we both feel absolutely validated when we hang out together.
Validation from others who understand Crohn's
There is nothing better than validation when it comes to making new connections with people who “get it” and understand and empathize with you. It’s a special bond - whether it’s others in the IBD community, chronic illness community, or elsewhere. When you find those friends, you keep them close to your heart.
I’m happy to have found a friend who understands what I go through on a daily basis and understands the fatigue and exhaustion and that I understand the daily pressures of what she must feel like every day.
People without a chronic illness don't understand what we go through
We both share a common anxiety of leaving the house and within the comfort of our own homes. This is something I work on constantly with my psychiatry team, but living with IBD has made this even harder when I cannot control my bowels.
The thing is, muggles (people living without illness) don’t really understand the disconnect that others living with diseases and altered states of life go through on a daily basis. They don’t know the struggle of fatigue when you wake up in the morning, even after hours of sleep, that we still feel extremely exhausted and foggy-brained.
Hearing "me too" from someone who gets it is life-changing
When you hear “me too” from someone who actually goes through the same struggles as you, it’s life-changing, especially if you were diagnosed as a child or lived with an illness since you were very young. When someone with similar struggles says “me too”, you know it’s sincere and that you are truly understood.
When I look back over the last 16 years, I can think of names and faces that got me to where I am today. They may have been only friendships for a season, but each of those friendships helped me feel validated, helped me understand how to truly advocate better for myself, and help me accept the reality of what living with an illness is truly like.
Support from friends who truly understand my struggles
I feel blessed to have friends that have gone through similar (or totally different) medical experiences than I have. I credit my acceptance and thriving with IBD to the people that have surrounded me living with other conditions similar to immune-mediated.
With illness, there is very little we feel like we have control of. Having friends that understand that is something that continues to save me from a lot of grief that comes along with it.
I hate so much that the loved ones I surround myself with near and far can relate to me in ways that will make me sad if I think too long about the circumstances, but I will forever be grateful for the gifts they have brought into my life. Acceptance comes to you so much easier when you have others around you that actually "get" it. The times and opportunities I've been blessed with, in meeting some of these people, are irreplaceable.
How open are you about being diagnosed with IBD?