Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Friends (Part 2)

In her book, Among Friends: Who We Like, Why We Like Them, and What We Want To Do With Them, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, using herself as an example, writes about why friends withdraw when someone is ill.

"I have a problem with illness. Armchair analysis suggests it is because my mother died of cancer when I was young and I have never been able to visit sick people or hospitals without stirring up these memories. But it may be something more ignoble: cowardice, laziness, a primitive fear of "germs" or the unknown, a self-serving denial of human frailty and the fragility of life. Whatever the cause, it is humiliating to own up to such behavior, and like any coward, I do so only having discovered that others are guilty of it too."

I am disturbed by her sentiments but I find her honesty appealing.

I wonder how many of you were deserted by your friends when you were ill with bipolar disorder. How did it make you feel? Did you welcome these people back to the fold when you were well? How did your illness affect your willingness to count on others? To trust them? Has the lack of empathy by others caused you to be more empathetic with others who are ill?


Syd said...

Great questions, Susan. Actually I think I am the one who usually withdraws when I'm not well. I've always had difficulty asking for help, and the more I need help, the harder it is for me to ask.

My friends usually welcome me back, although some of them (the ones who don't suffer from depression) have trouble understanding why I disappear for a while. So in an unusual sort of way, I guess I'M the one who's a fair-weather friend.


marja said...

It is the love others have shown me that inspires me to love others in the same way. I've been amazingly fortunate in having a friend who stays close to me when I'm not well. She's a godly person - it's the only way I can describe her. Why can't all people who believe in God love as God wants them to love? I'm able to freely let my friends know when I need them - another thing I'm fortunate for.

sara said...

That might be the hardest part of all this for me. The stigma, the having to hide. Many times I wish I had a more socially acceptable illness, where people call just to make awkward conversation or whatever. Almost no one in my life knows about this, because it has just hurt too damn much to end up abandoned by people.