These Are the Kind of Friends We Need

Alliah Czarielle avatar

by Alliah Czarielle |

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Meaningful connections with other people are of incredible value to people with chronic illnesses. My husband, Jared, and I can both attest to this, as he lives with severe hemophilia B and a seizure disorder, while I am newly diagnosed with both bipolar II disorder and the inattentive type of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

We’re both quite lucky to be blessed with friends we can lean on during tough times. Although our circle of friends is quite small because both of us are introverts, we believe that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to friendships.

Friends and support groups play a vital role in our mental and emotional health. When we feel connected to others, we feel less lonely, which is important to us because a physical or mental condition can make us feel isolated from the world.

Jared often expresses to me that he has limited patience for people who can’t understand what he goes through when he bleeds or has a seizure. Meanwhile, my own mental conditions often make me feel inadequate and small. When my mental state deteriorates, I prefer to withdraw from others rather than interact with them.

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Thankfully, Jared has friends in his hemophilia support group who regularly experience similar struggles. He also has the kindest friends from childhood who show nothing but care and concern for him, especially when he has a debilitating bleed.

Likewise, I am fortunate to have found an amazing mental health network on Facebook, where I can share my feelings, anxieties, and honest thoughts without feeling judged. I’ve even met some of the other members of the group in person at an event. They were all so kind and welcoming, even though my anxiety had kicked up a notch that day.

Jared and I are also part of a church discipleship group where we’ve become friends with our fellow members. We help one another to be accountable for our actions and the way we treat others. That helps us grow not only spiritually, but also as human beings.

Having supportive friends is definitely a good thing. However, sometimes the wrong kind of friends can make things worse for us instead of making our lives easier. With all of the struggles we already face, we simply don’t want that.

So what kind of friends do we need?

Friends who are patient and understanding

People with chronic and mental illnesses can seem flaky, although we don’t mean to be. We’re going to occasionally miss appointments, especially when our conditions flare up. We need friends who can understand this and if possible, be flexible enough to adjust.

One day, Jared had a random bleed when we had scheduled a play date with some friends and their daughter. I had been looking forward to having a nice family pool day. Instead, our daughter and I played with them while Jared rested in bed. It wasn’t what we had planned, but our friends understood and knew there would be a next time. And sure enough, there was!

Friends who hold us accountable

We are very much aware that having an illness is not an excuse for terrible behavior. In fact, we’re often the first ones to feel guilty whenever we feel like we’ve been a burden to someone. But sometimes, we do behave badly and haphazardly — it’s only human to err. But we need to be accountable for our actions.

We appreciate it when others can remind us, with honesty and sincerity, of the areas where we can improve, and we will do our best to adjust our actions.

Friends who uplift and don’t put others down

People with chronic illnesses already face considerable discrimination every day. We’ve spent much of our lives feeling sorry for ourselves and drowning in our insecurities. It’s hard for us to be around people who delight in criticizing others. We don’t welcome this kind of negative energy into our lives. We need to be around other people who can shine light into our darkness, show us what it means to actively hope, and point us to the good things that lie behind our flawed self-perception.

Note: Hemophilia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Hemophilia News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to hemophilia.


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