Like many people with chronic disability, I had a problem holding onto my friends when I was diagnosed. I couldn’t go out at the weekend or evenings, they thought I was too lazy to get a job (as I managed to go to school they believed I was making it up) and eventually they just stopped inviting me anywhere. Granted, these were my high school friends so I doubt we would still be friends now anyway, but I’ll never know if we drifted apart because we weren’t meant to be friends with one another or because they couldn’t deal with me having M.E.
When I started university, I met a lot of people. In my first year I went out a lot but as my health deteriorated and I struggled to keep going to classes in my second and third year, I stopped going out. The friends I’d made stopped inviting me out and very few made the effort to see me (if I’m completely honest, only one or two stayed in touch and only just barely). I only saw Chris and my classmates regularly, and when uni finished and I became trapped inside I was expecting the few remaining friends I had to disappear. It turns out that I was wrong.
|My birthday dinner (Chris is behind the camera and Diamond had already left)
When I decided to go out for dinner for my birthday I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting a very good turn-out. It’s been my experience that people have a habit of forgetting to attend events I plan (whether intentionally or not, I do not know). So I was completely overwhelmed that all my friends who lived within travelling distance came. And I finally believe that friendship is in everyone’s grasp. I agree that it is easier to make friends when you are not stuck at home and so I try to make the effort to go out when I am able. The rest of the time I send texts and facebook messages and sometimes snail-mail (when they live far away or I know their address). I want to make sure that I am as good a friend as I can be.
Since leaving high school I have come to value friendship very highly and at the same time realised that true friends would stick by me and love me for who I am. I stopped trying to be anyone else and was straight-up honest about who I was. I believe this is why I now have a fairly large support network of friends who keep me going. I don’t see them very often but I know I can rely on them when they are needed. And I hope they know that they can rely on me (as much as my health allows me).
And that is the secret. Be yourself. Don’t only take, especially if you are in a position to give. And you will find friends who will be the most amazing and important people in your life (plus family of course).