One big advance of being disabled or ill is that it automatically weeds out flaky and nasty people. In some way I am glad I was already ill when I entered adulthood because that meant I did not have a group of established ‘good friends’ who I started to loose once I got ill. It must be really hard when you see long time friends falling away one by one the moment you get ill or disabled. It is something that happens to so many people, nearly daily people post stories about this topic on forums.
That does not mean I have not encountered some bad reactions, or that my friends all have been great friends.
A long time ago, when I was not yet diagnosed, but already very ill, I had a friend who asked me ‘if it wasn’t in my head’. Another thought I faked it because they thought I must be ‘lazy’. Yet another one , who herself was always ill, thought ‘I should push through’ because that was what she always did, without success I must say. For explample, one day she disappeared for a while to the bathroom and when she was not coming back I got worried and I found her curled up on the floor, in immense pain. Yet, nearly 20 years later she still tries to ‘push through’ even though her illness has progressed a lot. I would not know how she would treat me now, because I have not seen her for ages, but I suspect maybe better because I now have a ‘proper diagnosis’ (she still doesn’t have one herself) Somehow a ‘proper diagnosis’ can change people’s perception. But it is awful for people who still have not find out what is causing their illness (I am thinking especially of the people diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, they are often not taken seriously even though they are very ill)
I think that a lot of people have a misconception of what people with chronic illness or disability. They see them as a burden, as people who would be a constant negativity and people have literarily told me that ‘the negativity of the disabled/chronically ill brings them down’. I am not sure what negativity, maybe the reality of something coming so close, the realisation that this could happen to themselves one day.
However, what they fail to realise and will miss out on is the mental support and wisdom their ill or disabled friends can give them. People with illness/disability are often much more understanding, compassionate and patient than ‘normal’ people and willing to lend a listening ear to their friends/family and support them mentally. I see this as the strength of the disabled and chronically ill people, I hope that other people will see this too and not run from their disabled or ill friends.
I found some interesting articles I would like to share with this blog’s readers, I will post them in the coming days.