Everyone talks about the physical side of fibromyalgia, but what a lot of non-sufferers and non-believers do not understand is how much we suffer emotionally as well. Going forward, I will refer to these people as the “nons.”
Try having to live with a chronic illness that no one really understands and that some don’t even believe exist. Try living with the fact that even your own spouse, family, and friends are nons and don’t believe in you, or they feel you are a liar or hypochondriac. Try dealing with the stress that comes with not being able to get medications that help you or doctors who listen to you. Try living a life without your family and friends. These are just a few examples of what the nons do not seem to understand about us.
I’ve spent most of my life feeling frustrated, angry, let down, and alone — all due to my illness. I’ve been frustrated because I can’t do the everyday things I need to do to keep up my house and to take care of myself, let alone what I truly enjoy. I feel alone because I can’t get anyone to listen to me. My friends got sick of me forgetting important events or canceling plans at the last minute due to a flare. I feel let down because the medical profession can’t seem to help me. I am angry that my body continually betrays me. Activities that are easy for the nons are almost impossible for us.
Is it any wonder that depression is a frequent symptom of fibromyalgia? Try living a life that at times doesn’t seem worth living. No matter how hard we try, we can’t win. When we are happy, nons steal our joy by putting us down or by reminding us that we are worthless.
I’ve been accused of being lazy and unmotivated. You have no idea how motivated I am and what lengths I’ve gone to to feel better. I’ve seen more doctors and specialists than I can count. I’ve tried almost every form of holistic medicine out there. Some work and some not so much, but I keep trying because I want to be better.
There are quite a few of us who have low or no self-esteem. How can you feel good about yourself when no one else does?
The worst thing I’ve ever been told is that I am a burden. Wow! Talk about a punch to the gut. No one wants to be a burden. But what our spouses, friends, and family don’t understand is that someday, they may be the one who needs help.
What happens if one of them ends up with a chronic illness or disability and they need our help and support? I, of course, would do anything I could to help. But think about it: If you treat me like garbage, how can you honestly expect me to be there for you, especially when you haven’t been for me?
I wish the nons would try to see our side and actually listen to what we are saying. You can still have empathy and compassion for someone even if you do not understand what they are going through. Just look into our eyes and see our pain. It is there. You really don’t have to look hard at all. You just need to look.
While waiting for the nons to come around, seeing a counselor or attending group therapy can be helpful. Joining support groups and patient websites is a way for us to find friendship and comfort with others like us. There are medications for depression that a physician can prescribe. All of these can be helpful to relieve our depression and emotional distress. But honestly, what would really help all of us immensely is a little empathy and compassion from the nons.