5 Ways To Keep Friendships Intact With Chronic Illness

Keeping friendships intact

One of the most hardest aspects of a chronic illness is seeing how it can impact some of your friendships. It can be tough to remember the Dr. Seuss adage, “Those who matter don’t mind and those who mind don’t matter.” Although your close friendships will continue to remain strong, you may notice that peripheral friendships, such as the drinking buddy at the local bar or the acquaintance at your pottery class, may fall by the wayside when you’re not physically able to make it to these locations.

“I found that my true friends are the friends who wanted to ‘be with me,’ not ‘do things with me.’ The two are quite different,” writes Kathryn Ferguson, who has been diagnosed with several rare diseases. “We often forget that underneath the label of chronic illness, we are still ourselves. Each of us is still funny, smart, charming and the life of the party. Often it’s just that the party location may need to change.”

But even if the symptoms of your chronic illness make it difficult for you to leave the house, you can still enjoy meaningful, lasting friendships. Here are five ways to keep your close friendships intact when you’re not feeling at your best.

Bedroom parties: Instead of meeting for drinks at a restaurant or local bar, invite friends over for a glass of wine in your bedroom. A “happy hour” party at your home will allow your friends to spend a few hours with you, while also enabling you to have an early night and get the rest you need to recover.

Phone dates: If you still wanted to find out how your friend’s daughter is doing or get all the latest water cooler gossip, arrange for a Facetime session with a friend. Talking via Skype can sometimes be even more beneficial since multiple people can join the call.

Takeout-lunch dates: Remove the hour-long wait for a table or endless calls for a reservation by inviting your friends over to order in with you. They’ll likely appreciate the more casual environment – and a much cheaper bill at the end of the night!

Host the events you can’t attend: Can’t make it to your Tuesday night yoga class or your Saturday book club? Offer to hold these group sessions in your home. Your friends will appreciate the change of scenery and the chance to see a different side of you than they normally might at the usual location.

Avoid talking at length about your illness: The symptoms of a chronic illness can be all-consuming, but it’s important for your sanity to not have this be the only topic of conversation. Use this opportunity to find out how your friends are doing or talk about something else that will take your mind off how you’re feeling. By getting out of your illness, you may end up even feeling better in the process.