Everyone has fabulous friends (I hope!) who are always there for them and truly make their life special. When dealing with chronic illness those very friends can be a life line. There has been several times where if it weren’t for a good friend, I wouldn’t be trucking on as I am now. However a person who decides to become a friend with me has chosen one of the hardest people in the world to love. My lupus has done in some of the best friendships I have ever had. But it has also helped me to gain and grow new ones. I have learned some “lupus (and other chronic illness) etiquette” when it comes to friendship over the past two and a half years. Everything from what to tell a friend and when to just say nothing. This is in no particular order…
1. Friends are not punching bags. They are called friends for a reason. Do NOT take your frustrations about lupus out on a friend. There are punching bags at the gym for that very reason.
2. There are some things best left unsaid.
3. If you do not tell your friend what is going on, it is your fault for the mis-perceptions. Friends do not have telepathy. They simply want you to feel your best and be happy. Do not just jump to the assumption they know how you feel at that very day/hour/minute/second... unless you have told them, they probably do not know.
4. Don’t expect complete understanding. Embrace it when it happens. Have patience until it clicks. I am currently waiting out my brother right now on this… So I know how this goes.
5. Remember a friendship is a two way street. Don’t let lupus close one of the lanes.
6. Sometimes no matter how (%^&&*@#$%%#) lupus makes me feel, it is best left off the conversation table. I don’t hang out with friends to complain, I hang out with friends to have fun.
7. Some things about lupus are just too big for even the best of friends to deal with. Accept it.
8. Friends have their own set of problems too. Don’t compare yours to theirs. It is like comparing apples to baboons.
9. Illness is not an excuse, a free pass to lamentation or a ticket to the moon. Lupus is a solid reason for why I cannot do something. But I don’t play the “I’m sick” card all the time either.
10. Unless a friend has said “it’s okay to come to me when you are crying… those 2 a.m. in the morning phone calls, etc…” just spare them. I realize they are a friend but refer to number one. This doesn’t mean keep it all to your self, just make sure it is a consensual thing. It can be beyond awkward, stressful and hurtful for the other side. Been there and done that.
11. There are people who just can’t handle having a chronically ill friend. It’s okay (pats on back), by not having them as a friend you are saving yourself a ton of frustration. Them too. Plus they were honest. When it comes to dealing with lupus, honesty is the best policy.
I do love my friends unconditionally and think of each one as a blessing in my life. A road is best not traveled alone but with many. With that said… I’m going to go put on my slippers now.