I think many people with fibromyalgia have heard the following statements at one point or another:
“Oh, you have the catch-all disease.”
“Fibromyalgia isn’t a real disease, it’s what doctors tell you when they have no idea what you have.”
“I think fibromyalgia is just depression that shows up as pain.”
“I don’t believe in fibromyalgia.”
“You don’t look like you’re in pain.”
As a nurse, I used to think all of the above. I never said it out loud to anyone who had this illness, but the thoughts were there, in my ignorant head.
I’m unsure on if people realize how rude these statements are, or if they truly do not care how they can make someone feel. When you say, “Fibromyalgia isn’t real,” you are saying that the pain I feel isn’t real… and I know that it is. It’s real when I am having an unbearable flare-up, and my husband has to help me to bed. It’s real when I am attempting to stay at work for the day when I can barely concentrate because my pain is all consuming.
If you have never been chronically ill, I think it’s really easy to make these statements. You have never had to experience these struggles. And while I understand how hard it is for you to “get it” because there are no lab results, or imaging studies that I can show you to prove that I have this diagnosis… I also feel that you lack compassion.
How can you be so opinionated on something you have never had to struggle with?
I didn’t ask for this. I went from running 10 mile races, to barely being able to exercise at all. I have never had to put limits on what I allow myself to do until now. I took my old life, my old body, for granted. But still, I go to work, and I try to stay positive as much as possible, because I refuse to allow this diagnosis or the stigma associated with it define me.
So my advice, is this: if you know someone with chronic pain, be compassionate. Be human. Enjoy and appreciate your healthy, pain-free body, you never know when this could be you. (I hope it never is.)