You've Got a Friend in Me
Last updated: June 2018
Making friends as an adult is awkward. It’s not like when you are younger and simply become friends with whoever has the same lunch box as you (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—in case you were wondering). Add in a chronic illness, and it can make finding that great friendship even more complicated.
First impressions are undoubtedly important. Unfortunately, having a disease that made me look like a leper didn’t bode well in the first impressions department. Some of the responses I have gotten from friends when asked what they first thought when they saw me include:
“I thought you were having an allergic reaction”
Not really the kind of guy you would be dying to become friends with, huh? I appreciate when people are honest though. Knowing that most reactions to my condition come from fear, initial encounters are a little less uncomfortable. Instead of shirking away when I see the obvious stares, I let my personality shine and make light of my appearance. “I’m like Olaf; I have my own personal snow cloud everywhere I go!”
When you have a chronic illness and have friends that don’t, there sometimes can be a lot lost in translation. The number one thing that most of my friends don’t understand is how crippling the fatigue of psoriasis can be. After working a 40 hour week and taking kids here and there, I don’t have a lot of energy left for recreational activities. Usually, when I get together with my guy friends, it turns into a scene from the Jungle Book: “What do you want to do?” “I don’t know. What do you want to do?” (I am really on an animated movie kick today)
Well, This is Embarrassing
A lot of times, my reduced stamina has led to some embarrassing encounters. My family and I are part of a community group through our church. Once a week we meet up with a few other families and share a meal together and discuss life. I have made some great friendships through this group. Well, one day I was supposed to go on an outing with one of my friends from this group. Unfortunately, I had to cancel a couple times due to various reasons. So, when this friend came to our group the following week, he greeted me in front of everyone by saying: “I’m going to start calling you Dandruff, because you are such a flake!” This statement was of course in jest, and I knew he was referring to me canceling our get-togethers, but the room literally stood still. Everyone else assumed he was referencing my psoriasis and didn’t know what to say. As soon as this friend realized how his statement had been misconstrued, boy was his face red!
I was able to laugh at the situation, and even laugh today thinking back on this memory, but it really can be a touchy subject, right? Sometimes our friends, even those closest to us, can unintentionally say things that really hurt. This happens not because they are insensitive, but because until you live with psoriasis, it’s hard to truly understand it.
A Friend Like a Brother
Regardless of misunderstandings, I treasure every friendship I have. I have talked to a lot of people with psoriasis, especially those diagnosed young like me, and a common theme is bullying. I was teased and avoided a lot in my younger years. Because of this, it was difficult to find genuine friends. Thinking about these times still stings when I recall them even over a decade later, but what I have come to know is that you have to have the bad in order to fully appreciate the good. That is why I am fiercely committed to my friendships. I faithfully appreciate those who are in my life and love me apart from my disease.
Are you recently diagnosed with psoriasis?