Suzanne DePaolis – To the Friends Who Offer ‘Cures’ for My Chronic Illness

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from an article which appeared in, November 16, 2015. You can read the full article here:

Sometimes, a simple chat with my friends and family can turn into a conversation about me defending my health choices. People will insist on telling me ways to boost my immune system.

The problem is when you have an autoimmune illness like vasculitis, it’s usually because your immune system is overactive, and I take immunosuppressants to quiet it down so it stops attacking my blood vessels.

Many well-intentioned but insistent “friends” will spend hours talking to me about how I can boost my immune system. They don’t do this out of malice; they do it out of caring.

They see me with constant colds or worry about me getting a cold or virus, but they don’t understand that boosting my immune system may put it into overdrive and begin a horrible cycle of flares. (A flare is a reactivation of my illness. I’m never cured — I just hope to keep things quiet throughout my life.)

I know suppressing my immune system places me at greater risk for infections, but I live under a no-win situation and sometimes have to pick the lesser of two evils.

We need our friends to act as friends with open arms. We need people who will listen and won’t try to fix us or cure us. Just be our friends, and we will reward you with our unique sense of humor and newfound view of the world around us.