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How To Deal With Unsupportive Friends

Something that’s so important to those of us with chronic illnesses is having supportive friends. We want our friends to let us vent, listen and I mean really listen, and just be there for when times are hard.

Unfortunately, sometimes other people can’t handle being supportive of their chronically ill friends. I’ve learned over my past 3 years with AS how to deal with unsupportive friends, and honestly, I’m still learning.

It’s not us

I want to say this first and foremost, it has nothing to do with us. A lot of the time, our friends (and even family members) have problems being vulnerable. Therefore, when they see other people being comfortable being vulnerable, it scares them. It’s something they would never do, so they feel uncomfortable and try to lead the conversation elsewhere.

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There’s also the scenario that they have a lot going on mentally themselves, and they haven’t quite sorted through it yet, so they also can’t take on more than they can handle.

Just know that it’s not your fault that your friends are unsupportive. Nothing you’re doing is wrong, you just have to learn how to navigate around the friendship with your needs.

When our needs aren’t met

We all have needs in all of the relationships we have. Our needs also change over time. For example, before I got sick, I didn’t feel the need for friendships where we talked about the tough parts of our lives.

Over the past 3 years, though, I’ve changed and grown so much as a person. Now I value and, in a way, need valuable, vulnerable friendships. I need to be able to talk about how I’m feeling openly with no judgment. As I always say, it affects every part of my life, and I want to be able to talk about it.

Something I’ve realized over time is that certain friendships don’t meet my needs at all. That’s when I need to make a decision.

What do we do when friends aren’t supportive?

There are some friends that I know not to bring up my illness with. If I do, it’s met with uninterested, distracting answers. The kind of answers like “Oh”, “I see”, and “Ah”. After a while, these conversations just start to make me feel bad.

I don’t want to feel bad about talking about my illness. It’s my life, it’s part of who I am. Why should I feel bad for talking about something so important to me? I shouldn’t. I’ve had friends not even ask how I’m doing, or have any interest in what’s going on in my life. I care about theirs, why don’t they care about mine?

Now it’s time to make a decision, whether the friendship is worth keeping, but maybe to go out and watch a movie every once in a while, or to just remove myself from it. A lot of the time in my case, the friendship isn’t worth sacrificing my mental health. I’m not going to feel bad for being sick, sorry.

Cherish your supportive friends

Even if it means having fewer friends, it helps me appreciate my supportive friends so much more. I value my time with them, and instead of leaving hurt and sad, I leave with energy and happiness.

Always tell your friends how much you appreciate their support, it’ll make them feel good!

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