Celiac Disease can have a serious impact on relationships in your life. Friendships are the most strained, since friends are often met at different times in your life under different circumstances. Your family will tell you things like, “we’ll always be there for you,” or “call me anytime you need to talk.” This is great for some people, but many need the connection with friends in their life to help them feel secure. Maintaining friendships after Celiac diagnosis is one of the more difficult challenges.
Initially, your friends may say that they support you. They may tell you that others in their family or friends circle experience other auto-immune disorders, or even serious diseases like cancer. They may try to push you to do things that may seem dangerous to a Celiac sufferer, like attending a cookout or join them for a dinner out. Again, these may be great for some people, but these kinds of events can cause serious anxiety in even the mildest sufferers.
Friendships Are Put to the Test
After a while, friendships are put to the test. Celiac Disease comes with a laundry list of restrictions, dangers and misinformation. While you’re dining out with friends, some may seem annoyed that you take a few minutes to order. Some may feel like they aren’t part of the group because they do not order with such elaborate micromanagement. Others may simply put their uncomfortable feelings aside for the time being only to have them surface later when another invitation is considered. They may feel that empathy in this situation is to no longer invite to you places that could potentially poison you. They may feel that your dietary restrictions are too extreme to relate.
The Last Friend Standing
The last friends standing are those that truly understand what the Celiac sufferer is experiencing. They may have read up on the subject on their own, or talked to a friend or relative with the same or similar problems. Of course, they may just be a good friend who doesn’t necessarily have to understand all of the details to offer their support. These are the people that Celiac sufferers should look to for friendships. These are the friendships that will last.
The best way to overcome these challenges is to raise awareness of Celiac Disease and to continue to be strong-minded about the subject when discussing it with outsiders. There are many misconceptions about Celiac Disease, but your friends and family should be the first to know the truth. Helping them to understand will make your transition into battling the disease less anxiety-ridden and more about love and perseverance through the difficult times ahead.