Friends are fun to hang out with. They can make you laugh, but they can also help you as you deal with your primary immunodeficiency (PI), so you need friends who accept you and are always there for you!
Finding Good Friends
You should give some thought about who you choose to hang out with. As you grow older, you will probably spend more time with your friends than your family, and they can be a really important part of your life. They can be a strong support for you in times when you really need it. Living with PI can be less stressful and more manageable with good friends in your life. Here are some things to think about when it comes to friends:
- Find friends you can trust. Look for friends who are honest. Their actions and words show who they really are. These are the people you can trust.
- Make friends with those who like the same things you do. If you have shared interests, it makes being friends a lot easier because you have lots of things to talk about and do together.
- A good friend is loyal. The best kind of friends will be there for you in good times and bad. If your health has you down, a loyal friend will be there trying to lift your spirits. They will try to understand your disorder, and they won’t pretend it doesn’t exist.
- Good friends are willing to help each other. Your friend should be someone who is willing to help, like when you are absent from school and need help with your homework. This shows that they really care about you and your friendship.
- Good friends find a way to accept each other, faults and all. No one is perfect. Learning how to deal with and accept each other’s faults is important.
- Remember to be a good friend. It goes both ways, so treat your friends like you want them to treat you!
Friends and Your PI
Since PI is rare, your friends may have never heard of it. Also, since you probably look healthy, they won’t know that you have PI unless you tell them about it. It is entirely up to you to decide if and when you tell your friends. You need to make the choice that works best for you.
There might be a time when you are ill and your friends are curious as to why you miss so much school. They will say to you, “Why are you sick all the time?” This might be the time when you decide to explain it to them. Some friends will only want a simple explanation and then move on to something else. Others will ask a lot of questions and want to know more.
If and when you decide to tell your friends about your PI, it will be good to have a plan:
- Where will you be when you tell them? If you don’t want everyone to know, the school cafeteria is not the place to bring it up. So, think of a place where you can have some privacy.
- Do you understand your illness well enough to explain it? You can ask your parents or healthcare provider for help if you’re not sure if your explanation makes sense. You can even practice telling them.
- Are you ready for the questions they may ask? Be ready for a wide variety of reactions. Again, some of your friends won’t ask any questions and will want to talk about something else. Others will have a lot of questions.
- Once you have answered all their questions, let them know that this is just part of who you are. Your true friends will understand and be there for you.
Some of your friends will get it and some won’t. It may be frustrating when some of your friends don’t take the time to really listen to what you’re saying. Just remember, you may have to give some of your friends a little more time to understand what you have shared with them.
IDF Common Ground
Would you like to communicate with other teens with PI? Visit IDF Common Ground, a discussion forum just for teens with PI.
IDF Peer Support
IDF offers one-to-one peer support. If you would like to be contacted by an IDF Teen Council Member, contact IDF.
IDF Teen Escape, IDF National Conference, IDF Retreats
IDF Teen Escape is a weekend getaway for teens with PI. You will meet other young people who understand what you are going through, have fun and learn from healthcare experts. Click here for more information. You can also attend other IDF events that feature special programs for teens, like IDF National Conference or IDF Retreats.