One thing I have learned in my 27 years is that relationships aren’t always built to last. Some people have come into my life for a few years or a few months, and others have been in my life forever and continue to be there. The truth is that relationships change. People change. That’s part of life. Relationships grow apart or become stronger.
Maintaining relationships is difficult. Maintaining relationships while managing pulmonary hypertension is even more difficult. Sometimes when people come in and out of my life, it can leave me feeling left out. I begin to question my worth. On many occasions, I have wondered, “What’s wrong with me?” I ponder what I actually bring to relationships. Negative headspace can lead me down the path to depression and isolation. To pull myself out of it, I think of all the qualities that make me valuable to any relationship.
I am supportive. I know what it’s like to feel unsupported and misunderstood. I also know how drastically my day can change when I feel supported. I’m not Superwoman, and I wouldn’t be able to carry a friend up the stairs if they fell, but I can — and would — talk them through the hurt and pain. Support goes beyond just words of encouragement. I know the difference between needing words and needing someone’s presence.
I can sympathize and empathize. In my experience, relationships begin to fail when sympathy is lacking. Friends have stopped talking to me completely when I went through a difficult time. I always made excuses and thought, “Maybe they just don’t get it.” But the truth is that no one needs to actually “get it” to sympathize with someone and show compassion. In my relationships, I can sympathize and empathize with a wide range of physical and emotional feelings.
I choose kindness. In friendships and my relationships with my boyfriend and my family, I try to always choose kindness. I know the power that words have to ruin my day, and I would never wish that for anyone. When a lot of negativity is around, it prevents any type of healing from happening. One kind gesture can turn someone’s day around.
I am inclusive. I have had moments in my life when I felt excluded. I was the girl who often wasn’t invited places. It’s a terrible feeling. Exclusion does more damage than many realize, especially if someone already feels vulnerable. Because of this, I will always be inclusive.
I provide comic relief. If someone is having a rough day, they know they can come to me for comic relief. That might include an inappropriate meme, a sarcastic sense of humor, or the sending of selfies in a “who can look the ugliest” competition. Although I don’t always find humor in my own difficulties, I can help those who are close to me find laughter and light in what they are going through.
I love with my entire heart. If chronic illness has taught me anything, it’s that life is too short for half-hearted relationships. I choose to love those who are in my life and part of my support system with my entire heart. I would do anything for them. They are the ones I would put my worries and troubles aside for. Love is something that should be felt and given fully.
It’s easy to get caught up feeling that I am a burden in relationships or frustrated when it seems I’m losing friendships due to my illness. When people leave my life, it’s hard to see the values I possess that make me a great person to be around. What I need to remember is that my disease does not cause me to lose relationships. If anything, having chronic illness has given me values that I bring to my friendships, partnership, and family relationships. It has taught me what’s really important and who truly matters.
Note: Pulmonary Hypertension News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Pulmonary Hypertension News or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to pulmonary hypertension.