Friday, August 6, 2010

Weeding your friend garden!

There comes a time, as an IC patient, where you will face the obstacle of unsupportive friends. If you haven't yet, good for you! Unfortunately for me, this accompanied my diagnosis, and only about a year later have I been able to overcome the feelings that I was left with.

My husband has been amazing through this all. Not only does he love me at my worst, but he has shown me what a good friend should be like- kind, caring, supportive, and unselfish.

I was talking with a good friend I've made through our local IC support group, and I told her that going through my friends was a bit like weeding my garden. She laughingly replied with "Except some are exactly like weeds & just keep coming back!" How true!

I'm not really here to give advice. I will say that I recently cleaned up my facebook list to rid myself of the daily annoyance of "seeing" some of the people who have refused to try to understand what it is like to live with a chronic illness, and boy did it feel good! It was an almost therapeutic move on my part. It helped me realize that not only have I made way for new friends, but I HAVE new friends. Many of them have IC, or some form of chronic pain, but even the ones who don't have tried to understand & support me.

If you have an ingrown toenail that hurts you every time you walk- you CUT it off!

Why is it that when we have a friend who hurts us, intentional or otherwise, we forgive, pretend to forget, then get hurt again when they repeat the pattern?

If you're finding that your friends are bringing you down way more than lifting you up, perhaps it is time to find some new friends. If your friends are trying to help, but don't seem to know how- be honest with them. Bring them to your support group (if you're lucky enough to have one in your area). Let them hear from other IC patients & see that you aren't making the pain up, nor does it just quietly disappear one day- you're stuck for life.

If you don't have a support group, maybe have them browse a forum for IC patients, let them read blogs by ICers, or just have a frank, honest talk with them about how big this disease is & what it does to you.

I'd highly recommend doing the same for your spouse, if they are proving unsupportive. This is something you have to fight together- get their opinion on treatment options, have them come to doctors appointments, take them to support group, have them get involved too!

My husband says the most frustrating thing about watching me go through a flare is there is nothing he can do to help... I've now given him things that help & he's proved that distraction really can lessen pain! He gives me massages, rents silly tv shows on dvd, brings me my heating pad, delivers water on a regular basis, and just makes me feel better knowing I'm not alone in this.

If your friends want to help- LET THEM! Find ways that they can help, be it borrow that sappy romantic comedy you just hadn't had time to watch, or run to the store to get you some preservative free chicken & watermelon because it's all you can eat.

Your friends & family may end up being your greatest allies in this fight you have begun.

Don't worry- I'm here too!

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