Woman with her arm around a brain and a stomach.

Chronic Diseases and Friendships

I’ve lived with illness and debilitating symptoms all of my adult life. Thankfully, the onset of my primary diagnosis, inflammatory bowel disease, didn’t appear until around age 16. At that age, all you really care about is passing classes, fluttering your eyelashes at your crush and driving around with your newly-obtained driver’s license.

Growing up with a chronic illness

Little time is spent on how life “could” be with an illness if you’ve not grown up knowing it. I didn’t grow up with a ton of diversity or education on what being disabled was, other than assuming things when I saw assistive devices being used by older people.

I look back now and laugh a little bit, as I am a 31-year-old woman now who doesn’t really know life beyond my illnesses some days. And that, friends, is really hard to say out loud.

It took me a few years to be able to talk about my conditions. When I was first diagnosed, there weren’t many resources on the internet - and of the information available, so much of it was incorrect and not helpful at all.

Grateful for friends who understand

I’m grateful for places like Migraine.com & the rest of the amazing Health Union communities. We’re people that “get” it. We share things that work with one another, we check in on each other when we’re able to and we understand the quietness that can sometimes come along with living with pain. True friends like our community know when we go quiet, we truly need that time to decompress.

I also feel like making friends within a community that knows illness first-hand has made me become a better friend - to those with and without illness. But for those of us that live with illness day in and day out, we're tested so much more when it comes to friendships. We know we're not flaky, we know that mornings are hard and nights can be even harder.

The power of sharing your stories

So I thank each one of you, for spending time on our website, for sharing your stories so that others feel less alone and admire your grit for speaking up - if it’s your very first time talking to others about it, or you’ve been an advocate for some time with your condition.

Friendships come and go, we find, with people who may not understand what it’s truly like to live stuck in bubbles of illness at times in our lives. But the friendships we make at conferences, fundraisers, the waiting rooms and support groups - those are the friendships I will always cherish the most and be so grateful for.

So thank you, reader. For being a part of my life. And, thank you for sharing your story when it can be extremely difficult to find someone that truly embraces who you are, without illness. Our community is amazing!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Migraine.com team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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