Friend running to help a fallen RA patient

True Friends

In my new world of rheumatoid arthritis, my symptoms weren’t the only things to become invisible. My “friends” did, as well.

The ending of many friendships

There were the people who viewed me as some outsider or second class citizen because I had a chronic illness and disability. Those people were not really my friends and they disappeared first.

There were the ones I never discussed my condition with but thought I was a burden anyways. They vanished on their own.

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There were the many who used my RA as an excuse to stop inviting me out. “Well, you always say no!” they said, talking about the one other time I had excused myself. I didn’t want to be associated with them and they faded away very quickly.

When I told one of my friends from high school, I was surprised by his reaction. He made a fair amount of comments about me being lazy, unmotivated, and dumb. It was hurtful and upsetting because up until this point, I thought he was my best friend; obviously not. He made a beeline for the rest of the crowd. And, he was a runner so he caught up with them fast.

Friends who stuck by my side

But, then, through the collective dust left by the stampeding people, a few beautiful people remained.

My oldest, closest friends both looked at me, not fully understanding what I said, but asked if I was okay. Nobody had ever asked me that.

These amazing friends never asked questions, they just did. I had trouble stepping up on to the curb. They saw me wince and immediately, put their arm around me so I could step up. I struggled to cut my food at a restaurant and they reached out and did it.

They knew when something was not right. They knew I wouldn’t ask for help. They didn’t ask questions. They just did.

And then, there were the ones who texted me just to make sure I didn’t accidentally fall into a ditch and couldn’t get out. This was not totally out the realm of possibility, as they knew I was a terrible klutz.

Maintaining quality friendships with RA

In another article, I wrote that my chronic illness helped me flush out my true friends and I stand by that.

Before, I was social and had many acquaintances. Now, I am way more introverted and have a handful of very close friends. I could probably only count them on one hand.

And, that’s okay.

I’d rather have one good friend who doesn’t judge me, checks on me occasionally and knows me so well they can anticipate when I need help.

Do you have any close friends like that? Let me know in the comments!

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