Peers and IBD

As we all know, Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis can severely impact relationships with friends. This all depends greatly on age, maturity and individual relationships but primarily, I believe a lot of the emotions are similar.

Being a teenager made me solely focused on my body, being attractive, fun, friendly… just “normal.” I never wanted to show vulnerability. Not ever. Or negativity. I wanted to be looked at as a fun to be around, positive person who was also a good friend. Therefore, it was always easier for me to just withdraw when I was very sick, recovering from surgery or even when I knew I couldn’t handle being fake. I stepped away into the mysterious world of sickness and then came back to my friends when I was in a better place.I think I had more of a hard time having my disease than any of my friends did.

I am sure things would have been better if I felt more secure about my situation. I don’t think I gave a lot of my friends enough credit. Granted, I wasn’t able to build sustaining friendships because I was always so in and out of school and life. I had a couple best friends over the years and always had people to do things with on weekends. But in terms of deep, close friendships, it became really difficult after my second surgery (at age 16.)

I have a friend who I went to kindergarden with. I switched schools sophmore year and we definitely went our separate ways but always touched base every now and then. She has been someone who has consistently understood. Asks the right questions. Responds intelligently and sympathetically. It amazed me how great she was actually.

This got me thinking.. I wonder if I have given my friends in the past enough credit. The ones I have chose to let in have all been very supportive. I think I have a line with people. I can tell very quickly who has the capability of handling my situation and who doesn’t. I remember one time I had to leave my friend’s house unexpectedly and emailed him apologizing and explaining a little bit about what I was dealing with. Just to see what kind of reaction I would get. I held back because of my own reasons for a while but we were getting closer so I thought I would give it a chance.

I never heard back.

That was the day I pushed this person aside as someone I would never talk about real things with.

I think peers don’t really know how to handle things too. If they have questions, they might hold off because they don’t want to come off nosey. But then when they don’t ask questions, it can be taken as he/she doesn’t care. There is a lot of “do we treat our friend differently now?” questions that I am sure pop into people’s minds. They don’t want to ignore it but then again, he/she is still the same person and may not want to talk about things a lot.

It is just tough all around!