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Relationships and chronic illness

With Valentine’s Day looming, love is on the mind. In this article, disability and lifestyle blogger Sarah (From Sarah Lex) discusses how she manages her personal relationships alongside her multiple chronic conditions. 

Love; the Big L, the L word, unfortunately it’s not something everyone has in their lives but those of us that do are very lucky. I am certainly very grateful for the abundance of love I have in my life.

Love comes in many forms; partners, family, friends, pets; they all have their roles and they all offer something different.

Often with a chronic illness, relationships are difficult to maintain, not everyone gets ‘it’ and that is okay. The people that do understand will stick around and they’re the ones that matter.

When I was growing up, I used to get very upset when people suddenly disappeared from my life. Either I’d said ‘no’ too many times after being invited to multiple events because my health wasn’t up to it or I couldn’t do particular activities because they weren’t accessible. As a teen, this was incredibly frustrating. I realised early on that I wasn’t reliable, that I couldn’t go to everything and stay out really late, as much as I’d want to. As I got older, I learnt that it wasn’t me that was unreliable, but it was my health, something I had no control over. Some days I just couldn’t function, some days I had to cancel last minute, some days I needed to stay in bed because the pain was debilitating. I wasn’t cancelling because I wanted to, I had no choice. Some people understood it, and some didn’t, and those that didn’t get it didn’t stick around.

It’s important to remember that people leave your life anyway, chronic illness or not. We grow apart, move on, have different priorities; there’s not always a reason and its usually not anyone’s fault.

My relationships are massively important to me; my loved ones have helped me more than they realise.

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I met my best friend when I was twelve and twenty years later, he’s still there for me. He’d always visit me in hospital, spend a day in my bedroom with me watching films when I wasn’t able to go out, not be bothered if I had to change or cancel plans, he’s a good one. We don’t live near each other anymore, but we speak every day and visit as much as we can. Whenever I’m feeling down and having a bad day, I wait for him to finish work and call him to talk about absolutely anything and I always end up crying with laughter and my mood lifted.

My nephew does this for me too. He’s seven and has a fantastic personality, he’s honestly such a funny kid, and no matter how low I am feeling, he’ll change that immediately. He has no idea how much he helps me and I’m always grateful to have the little guy as part of my family. The bond we have is really special and he’s hyper aware of my conditions; he even draws ramps on his pictures so they’re accessible which is adorable.

My boyfriend always manages to cheer me up but even he suggests I call my best friend or nephew when I’m struggling as he knows they’ll make me belly-laugh. My boyfriend has a completely different role to anyone else in my life; we’ve lived together for almost six years and he is my main carer. He gets the fun jobs of helping me get dressed, washing my hair, sorting out my medication etc. Our relationship isn’t a typical one, but it works for us and without him I would most definitely be lost. Every day I thank my lucky stars that I met a man so kind and caring.

The people closest to me in life are understanding of my disability, they don’t question if I can’t attend something, or if I’m backing out last minute, they just get it. The people I hold dearly to me are so important and I love them all for so many reasons. They keep me going, they help me fight, they make things easier. I am and always will be thankful for these wonderful relationships with my loved ones.

 Read more from Sarah at

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