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I am brand new to this group. I was diagnosed with RA 20 years ago. Without going into a ton of detail, I have daily RA pain, very evident in my hands, peripheral neuropathy in my feet, and bone thinning from steroid usage. I have been put on pretty much every RA drug with occasional relief but unfortunately nothing that alleviates the pain. I accept that I have RA and do not let the disease and all it in entails dictate my life. My friends are aware that I have the disease but i don't talk about it much. If they ask how I'm doing or if I'm in pain, I answer them honestly. I just don't want to be who I am because of the disease I want to be who I am in spite of the disease. Having said that, I am pretty close to devastated after being told by a close friend that she believes and has told other friends in the group we hang with that she thinks I'm a hypochondriac. I am having such a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I keep this disease as private as I possibly can and don't share everything that it entails... The fact that someone I call a friend said that to me is crushing. I tried to explain to her that things like immune issues and diseases that are not visible oftentimes can be hard for others to accept as a real thing. I stopped talking after I said that because I realized I absolutely do not have to explain to anyone what I have and why was I trying to make her understand.... In addition, I was so offended that I thought I had to. I have read some posts on here that talk about friends... Friends that are supportive, that you can talk to. I do have one friend like that and I cherish that. I don't know why this one person's opinion and her ignorance have hurt me so much. I'm also incredibly angry about it and honestly don't know where to put that anger. I would really appreciate some input on this.

  1. Good evening Sistersienna, I am glad you have found us.

    I think your experience is more common than not. I think it can be retold about doctors, family members, and yes of course friends. I have always been very open about my chronic conditions and perhaps for that reason only people who accept me with RA, As or Type 1 diabetes are my friends. I have even said that if you are offended or squeamish about me having one of these then you will not care for me and no doubt will not be my friend.

    I am so sorry your friend betrayed your trust. I do not have a great way to deal with this. I often think of the right thing to say after I walk away. Someone told me it is a great way to protect the human. It is our way to stop us from lashing out.

    The very best thing I can say is that it is always OK to vent here. It is a safe place. In addition your audience gets it. Most of us has over time dealt with the same thing. That is what makes us such a great community.

    rick - moderator

    1. thank you so much for your words of wisdom. My hope and prayer is to forgive this person. If I don't, in a sense, the disease wins and I can't let that happen. I think just understanding that I view this friendship differently now is ok. I can't make people understand... I can only accept that there will be those that don't and go on from there. Thank you again for your message to me... It really helped.

      1. Your perspective is really healthy to realize that you can't make people understand. It would be easy if you could, but ultimately it's out of your control. As painful as it is when people we view as friends aren't supportive, now you have more information about this particular friendship and can go ahead accordingly. While I don't want to minimize your hurt by "looking at the bright side" I do want to mention that it sounds like all of your other friends know you have RA and take it seriously, which is also a good social support foundation. I'm sorry that your friend isn't really taking it seriously - but love your approach and response! - Reggie ( Team)

    2. Hi . Sorry you have had to experience this lack of understanding on what chronic diseases can look like. Unfortunately, I think Rick is correct that most people here have experienced some form of this. I agree with Reggie that your approach certainly seems healthy. I would add that, while I think it is great for you personally and for what it says about you as a person that you want to forgive this person, it does not mean that you have to accept/put up with it. Some people have reactions, like thinking people with RA are hypochondriacs due to a lack of knowledge, but it sounds like this person had enough time to learn from you if they really wanted. I want to share with you this article from our contributor Angela on friends who can't grasp the invisible illness: I also agree with Reggie that it sounds like you do have a core of people who understand your condition and what you deal with on a day to day basis. Sometimes a condition like RA can actually help one learn who the people are who will be there for them. I also want to share with you this article from our contributor Monica on losing some friends who couldn't handle her RA, but also learning who her true friends are: In the end, you will be stronger and have clarity on what people value. Please know that this community is here for you. Best, Richard ( Team)

      1. Funny thing about find out who your real friends are.

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