disability makes it hard to make and keep friends

United States
August 22, 2008 7:16am CST
I have had fibromyalgia,chronic fatigue syndrome sciatica,IBS,peroneal nerve disease,and several other painful problems for 16 years now. I am 41 years old. I used to have many really good friends,until I became disabled 3 years ago. Now the only friend I have left is my neighbor,who is also disabled. Why does a disability scare able-bodied people? Do they think my disability is catchy? I know that I can't do a lot of things that they can,but to drop a friend because of that is cruel. I believe I'm a good person. I worked as a nurse for 28 years before being taken off work 3 years ago because I just couldn't do the work or any other for that matter. Slowly over these three years I have lost all my work friends and my long term friends,some I've been friends with for 10+ years.I am so depressed and confused by this. I know there is a persona that people have about anything out of the norm, but this is just one more thing that shows how the world and it's attitude has changed over the years. Thankgod for my family and my online support group www.fibrohugs.com . There is a lot of information on that site,for anyone out there who has fibro. It is a confusing, debilitating, painful disease. Fibrohugs.com is a caring,informative community for people with Fibro. Also I would be happy to answer questions if anyone here has fibro. and needs support. Obviously I would be interested in making friends, since I've lost mine. I would also be interested in anyone who has some answers to the above questions about why able-bodied people view disabled people as pariahs? Thanks for listening anyway.
7 people like this
22 responses
@bunzor (303)
22 Aug 08
I think it's ridiculous how people view disabled people differently. It wouldn't impact at all on how good a friend that person could be, so why does it matter? Maybe look for forums and chat rooms for people with fibromyalgia and try and build friendships from there? I have health issues, and have always thought it may be fibro, but I have an awful doctor who won't diagnose me with anything. It drives me mad because I could do with the help.
3 people like this
24 Aug 08
Can you change your GP? If they won't diagnose your condition then they've failed you as a doctor and you should be entitled to someone who will help you. x
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Aug 08
Yes it is ridiculous. How am I a different friend just because I have fibro. I was still there for them. Yes there were things I couldn't do anymore and when it got worse and worse there were more things I couldn't do PHYSICALLY,but mentally I was always there for them. I just don't get it.I try to let it go but it's hard. especially when some of these people were my friends from back in the school days. I do go to support groups online.The best one is www.fibrohugs.com and that is helping me a lot and now I've found Mylot and I think I like my lot even better, at least I know I'm on here more. Thankyou for your support. I would recomment you see a pain specialist or a rheumatologist for you problems at least to get a diagnosis so they can help you. Good luck and God Bless
1 person likes this
@Chevee (5915)
• United States
22 Aug 08
I can relate to your situation in a different manner. People to tend to stray away from your friendship for different reason, just learn to enjoy the friends that you do have, and the ones that left you point blank like that really wasn't a friend at all. I have two quotes that fits your situation: 1. A friend in need is a friend indeed. 2. I have friends that want to ride with me in my limo, but I wonder would the ride with me on a bus. Stay Safe Take Care. Chevee, Your new friend.
3 people like this
• United States
24 Aug 08
Thanks Chevee. cheers to my new friend!!!!
1 person likes this
• Canada
22 Aug 08
Hello, I'm sorry to hear how sickly you are and that all your friends ditched you. i know how you feel. I became disabled 3 years back when I had a bad accident and tore every ligument in my ankle. I wasn't able to walk without an aid for 2 years. Finally just last year, I was able to walk on my own but I still limp a bit and I cant run well. In that time period, quite a few of my friends abandoned me. I only had a few good friends that stuck by me and helped me. with them, I was able to show that even though i was classed disabled, i was still able to do things. I went camping with them and even went on a trip to Cuba with them. THey helped me realize that I was able to do things and I just didnt' have to worry about what I looked like or what I had to use to get around. I was also single at the time and me being on crutches and a cane scared off a lot of guys. It saddens me to think that people who call themselves your friend could just stop talking to you because you are disabled. I don't know if it's because they don't want to be seen with a disabled person, if they don't know how to act around one, or if it's just because they slowly drift away because they feel you won't be able to do what they want to do. I admire your courage and try to stay positive. Keep yourself busy and if you really want to make some friends, why not try to become a councler for people going through the same problems. Form a focus group in your area for people to share their stories. I can guarantee you that you will find more people that can relate to you and that have no problems being your friend. You are still human after all and your old friends are just too ignorant to see that. God Bless.
3 people like this
• United States
24 Aug 08
Thankyou liltunergirl. Yes it is sad . I think this mylot is helping,there are a lot of special people here. My support groups online have been a help also. My disabled neighbor is going through the same thing,so when we can get out and over to each others homes,we do. God bless you
1 person likes this
• United States
22 Aug 08
I am so sorry that people would do this to you... but as I tell everyone - if you stop doing something and your friends walk away from you -- they really werent your friend in the first place. Friends are suppose to love and care for you no matter what your situation is. If they can't handle something and walk away they truly werent your friend anyway. Its the same way with some people with weight gain. If your in a relationship or have a friend who walks away from you because you gain too much weight... I never understood how and why people do this to someone... I mean, think how you would feel people!!
• United States
22 Aug 08
oh yeah, I am more than happy to be your friend! Here is a little bit about me. I am 26 (soon to be 27), I live in the states (MN to be exact) I have 2 children... well 1 who is soon to be 16 months old and 1 on the way, and I love to meet new people (regardless of disability) :)
2 people like this
@nunchako (14)
• Bangladesh
22 Aug 08
Hi freelogging, I do really sympathize with you, and appreciate your courage. I think it would be good to share my experience with you -- I too fell terribly sick 12 years ago, and I thought I was dying. A good old samaritan came to my aid. He advised me not to belive in so-called "scientific" medicine (alopathic) and suggested I should consult an experienced homeopath. I have been following his advice ever since and taking homeopathic remedies for the last 12 years. Now I am almost completely cured. I don't know how serious is your disease but from my experience I can say that homeopathy can do miracles! You are still young, (we are of same age) and so don't lose faith in your ability to overcome the disease. By the way, do not cling to the thought that your friends have parted with you because you are sick. It would be harmful for your health. Rather concentrate on yourself, try to be calm and try to practice meditation. Remember that no man or woman in this world can overcome five things -- disease is one of them. Therefore, one should not boast of one's health. Wishing you all the best.
• United States
24 Aug 08
Thanks nunckaco. Yes I to have tried al lot of dirrerent natural treatments. The one thing that did help temporariliy was chiropractic.Not a traditional one, but she specialized in fibro. When I arrived,she would take me back to this room and put hot towels all over my back to loosen everything up. I would have them on for 20 minutes. Then she would take me into another room and lay me on my stomach and use some kind of rollers and go up and down my spine,this was to try to realign my vertibrae. Then I would flip over on my back and she would gently pull on my neck and back of head to try to get my cervical vertibrae back in place. After about three weeks 3 times a week,I started feeling better after the treatment. But then my insurance wouldn't pay for anymore treatment,They only payed for 20 treatments a year and i couldn't afford to pay out of pocket, it was quite pricey. Now I have insurance that doesn't even pay for that,but I'm trying to find a way to get help to pay for it again.
1 person likes this
@cripfemme (7715)
• United States
23 Aug 08
I am disabled too. I have been in a wheelchair all my life. Technically, of course, not all my life. I got my first wheelchair when I was 4. I don't think that your disability is the problem in your friends not sticking by you. I just thin you need better friends. I have many good, decent able bodied people in my life. They know me, accept me, support me, disability and all. Of course it might be different for you, as for a long period of time you weren't disabled and they may have trouble adjusting to your new status. However, ditching a friend in his or her hour of need is never excusable whatever your own emotional state. If these people were really important to you I would suggest asking them why they stopped interacting with you. This might just be the wake up call they need to change their behavior. And then it is up to you whether you can be friends with them again or not. Although I have tons of friends who are able bodied I must be honest and say that my true friends, at least for the most part, are disabled as well. Just because they understand how my life works in ways that able bodied people simply cannot. I hope you make some new friends here people are nice for the most part. Welcome!
@lixiaos77 (1030)
• Shijiazhuang, China
23 Aug 08
You experience remind some of my memories. When I resigned 5 years ago, some co-works become strange suddenly even though we ever offer great help ench other. I resigned to take a master entrance exam. They believed I had lost society status and they don't believe I can pass the exam. But there were still kind co-workers took me as their friend. If you can share hobbies with others or help others as you can, there will be more friends, I believe.
1 person likes this
• China
23 Aug 08
i am so sorry to hear that .it is not a good thing for one person to discard hie friend with heakth problems
1 person likes this
• China
23 Aug 08
i am so sad to hear that .i tihk it may be a big problem .i hope you will overcome it
1 person likes this
@sanzi1201 (644)
• China
23 Aug 08
Usually,everyone hopes to make friends with healthy body.But,I think disability is not a bad fact to make and keep friends.Pure-hearted heart is more important ,I think.So,don't worry,my friend.
1 person likes this
@kenzie45230 (3560)
• United States
22 Aug 08
Bless your heart. I do understand. I also have fibro, chronic fatigue, IBS, extreme chemical sensitivities, depression, digestive problems, spastic veins and arteries...and the list goes on. What kills me is that even the internet friends I've made - after posting something like you just did - sometimes end up not really understanding. I've had two good internet friends get angry because I wasn't online for a week or so. Well, duh. I was in pain and couldn't get out of bed. It happens. The other thing that bugs me are when my Christian brothers and sisters - local ones and online - tell me that if I had more faith or prayed "better" my pains would go away. If only...
@berrys (865)
• Singapore
22 Aug 08
I'm an able-bodied person however my mother is disabled and growing up with a disabled mother really caused a lot of people to take pity on me and it wasn't a very nice feeling. So I'd blame my mother and say it was all her fault that people were only friends with me because they pitied me and my mum would always get so upset that I blamed everything on her disability. But one day when I was 10, I followed her to the hospital for her monthly check-up and after hearing what the doctor had to say and the pain my mother was going through, I saw that i was making things worst for her, i really felt guilty and so i distant myself from her. because she was disabled, I thought that it would pain her to see that i could do everything a normal person could and she couldn't. So I avoided her for months sometimes going through a Whole day without even saying hello or good morning to her. And i continued avoiding her all the way up till i was 14 and my mum thought that that was just the way that i dealt with her disability, and so didn't say anything to me. One weekend,I was coming back from the mall and i saw this disabled man who looked liked he was in need of some help but my friends didn't want to go and help him for some reason they felt uncomfortable and so they just looked at him like he was an alien. I saw the way people's eyes glared at him as they left the mall, they were all staring but no one wanted to help him and I realized that I'd been doing the same thing to my mother for so long. I just felt so awful about myself. So I helped the man and immediately ran home to my mum and told her how much I loved her and appreciated her and all the sad-teary stories came out. she was always so incredibly patient with me. That day, I learned to accept her disability and till today I have formed a strong bond with my mother and my mum always reminds me of that day, how happy she felt, the day i accepted her as my mother. Sorry, if my story was a bit long-winded but what I'm trying to say is maybe your friends need to take time to adjust. I didn't know what my mother was going through it must have been harder for her to adjust to her disability and deal with a brat like me but in the end it worked out ~i think~ maybe you should approach your friends and let them know your still the same you and allow them to feel comfortable around you and accept you for who you are and accept your disability.
2 people like this
@mikinikih (201)
• United States
22 Aug 08
I doubt anyone thinks your disability is catchy, but they probably do see it as a limiting factor, and since they're self-absorbed jerks, they don't realize that being a friend doesn't mean ditching as soon as someone has a limiting factor. How horrible of them. My husband has multiple sclerosis, and while he's still able to work and do most things (like walking), there are times when he can't. And he usually needs 1-2 naps each day. But those who are true friends have not only worked around his schedule and abilities, but have even offered to help from time to time (usually the burden of all the extra house and yard work falls on me, so if someone offers to bring us dinner while my husband's getting medical treatments, we take it). That doesn't mean they skip they're trip to the local amusement park since he can't go (unless it's under 65 degrees out, then he could probably handle it--MS'ers are very heat sensitive), but they'd still invite us on the off chance we could go (if my dh doesn't go on a friend outing, neither do I--if it's just the girls going, he wouldn't care if I joined them). It's great that you've found an online support group--those are nice--especially when it's hard to get out of the house. If you can find a local one (usually medical groups have them, there's quite a few local MS groups within 10 miles of us), that's even better. Nothing quite like a movie night in with people you can relate to! Best wishes to you!
@apples99 (6564)
• United States
22 Aug 08
I understand, i have family friends that are disabled, and i dont get why people are like that they just dont get how hard it can be its so annoying, and the thing is, i know some really good people that happen to have disability's, and they are so fun to be around and some people treat them like they have the pleg or something, my friend doesn't have fibro, but she was born disabled, and any friend that would abandon you just because you have a disability is not a true friend, i think people should be more understanding and i think there should be more opportunity's for people with disabilities, because its hard for everyone especially the disabled, and when i think of how hard my friend struggles, it just makes me so mad, it just seems like everything is for able bodied people and there's no place in the world for those that are different, its just not right.
2 people like this
@union6 (326)
22 Aug 08
thats such a shame that you had to go throu all that, as i said to Phaedra_Scythe you realy do see the persons true colors once a bad situation comes up. A true friend is not someone you can share your good times with, there someone you can share your bad times with.
2 people like this
@suspenseful (40316)
• Canada
22 Aug 08
I think it has to do with they do not know how to handle you. They are afraid of saying the wrong thing and you will snap at them. And maybe they feel if they see you, they would start doing the pity party thing or start crying. And there is the idea that when a person gets a disability they become nobler and better, and take on the qualities of perfection and how can us not so perfect mortals be with them? Then there are the kind who feel you deserve it. Most are of the first paragraph. Look I have a sister-in-law who had multiple strokes and is in a home and my husband does not want to see her because he would get so upset. So I would try to let people know that you are still the same and will not snap their head off if they ask the wrong question. That will help.
• Philippines
22 Aug 08
Hi freefogging! I'm so sorry to hear your story but I admire your courage and optimism about the whole thing. I had been in the same situation as you are but in a different way, in one of my difficult moment in life I was expecting my so called friends to be there for me but I was only disappointed. Luckily I found comfort from someone which I least expected and it made me realize the value of what a friend really is. Well, I don't deserve them anyway and they don't deserve my friendship either. However, I will be glad to be your friend. I am a nurse too but not quite experienced as you are. God bless you. :-)
@TessWhite (3147)
• United States
23 Aug 08
Hi, I can relate to your post quite well. I too am disabled, and I just turned 49. I also have Fibro, CFIDS, Asthma, Diabetes, IBS, Osteoarthritis and a ton of other things as well. I've lost ALL of my real life friends. The only friends I have at all now are online. My real life friends gave up on me many years ago. Its hard to keep friends when you are unable to keep up with them and never know how you will feel from one day to the next. I also belong to a couple of Fibro online support groups. I've heard of Fibrohugs, but haven't checked it out recently. Its hard being disabled with illnesses that people can't see. The looks and comments I get when I park in a handicapped space or when I feel I have to use a scooter at the stores. Its interesting you worked as a nurse before this hit. I wasn't into nursing but did work for a hospital and several doctor's offices doing medical billing. I guess there are people from all sorts of careers that have this stuff.
1 person likes this
• United States
24 Aug 08
TessWhite so sorry to hear of yet another person affected with this horrible disease. Yes, the list of things just seems to go with fibromyalgia. The good new is,is the university of michigan is working on a cure. They have found one of the problems with fibro. and I hear they working on fixing that, but a lot of people like you and me and lots of others have so many other problems that I'm wondering if they are going to research why we end up with all these other disease when we start out with fibro. And it really sucks about losing our friends,I think thats why we turn to places like this,because here we are an equal and we have lots of friends and they also understand more if you do have a disability. I'll pray for you and all us fibromites.
1 person likes this
@bbjwlsn (263)
• United States
22 Aug 08
Hi free. I would like to be your friend, but I am disabled. Do you want to be friends with a disabled person? I am just kidding. I looked at your profile, and, even though I am an old lady (59), it looks like we have a lot in common. I became disabled 10 years ago. My first disability was severe depression. I became unable to work because I was in and out of a mental facility for six months. I feel certain that it was menopause related, but try finding a doctor who will admit that might be a possibility. Well, anyway, I am also diabetic (since age 35), and all those years living with diabetes has really started taking its toll. I am also a smoker, which I realize is my own fault, but which I have been doing for 46 years now, so I am extremely addicted. That has also started its vicious attack on my body. I have heart disease, PAD, PVD, diabetic neuropathy in my feet, and, let me see, oh yeah, COPD. Since going out on disability 10 years ago, all work friends are long gone. I have two "real-life" friends, but since I moved to Tennessee from Maryland in January of this year, there is no chance of seeing them. Since moving here, I haven't made any new friends. I just sit here in the house day in and day out, with only my grown daughter to keep me company. Some days, I only see her once or twice a day. I would honestly have to say that right now, my three dogs and three cats are my only friends. Isn't that sad? That is why, in part, I have embraced myLot so vigorously. Here at least, I can have people to talk to and interact with. I really, truly do not feel sorry for myself. But, on the other hand, it is quite depressing to be all alone without friends. Hopefully, we, and others on myLot, can help each other to make it through these long, lonely days. I sent you a friend request. I hope you accept it, but don't feel obligated. If you don't, I will just sit here and cry (just kidding). Try to have a good day. I am going to go get in the pool for a little while. Maybe a little exercise will make me feel better.
1 person likes this
@maximax8 (28906)
• United Kingdom
4 Sep 08
When I was 36 weeks pregnant I found out that my son has spina bifida. He was in intensive care for the first three weeks of his life. He had one operation on his back and another to put a shunt inside his head. He needs to have a catheter done every four hours. Friends don't like the idea of a catheter and nobody wants to learn how to do this. I can do it and my son's dad can too. My son goes to a play group for disabled children. I respect all disabled people and have made some friends that are disabled. I am sorry about any pain that you are in. I hope that you will make some kind, understanding and supportive friends. Good luck.