When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, the support of my friends was invaluable, but I also learned that there are 8 things you should never say to a fibro warrior.
“I feel so sorry for you.”
This implies that we are helpless victims. We don’t want a pity party, sometimes we are quite capable of having one of our own, we would love your support and friendship. Show us you care by spending quality time with us, listening to us and having a laugh. We are not defined by our illness, underneath the pain we are still the same people we were before.
“You don’t look sick!”
This is usually said in an accusatory or suspicious tone, since the speaker clearly has X-ray vision and knows more than our consultants. We are battling fibromyalgia, an invisible illness. We are brave fibro warriors who have to work hard to try and live normal lives.
“You look terrible.”
Yes, a friend said this to me. This was an insidious way to nudge my appearance towards a joyful, aesthetically pleasing ideal. What was she thinking?
“It could be worse, you could have cancer.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful I don’t have cancer – it’s a horrible disease; I lost my wonderful mother to cancer. I just think it’s insensitive to say that to someone who has a chronic illness. It’s as if we don’t have a right to have enough problems with fibromyalgia. I have no patience for disease comparisons like this.
“We all have aches and pains as we get older.”
Fibromyalgia is more severe than just aches and pains, it is characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain and that pain can be electric like, stabbing, burning, grinding, piercing, crippling and vice like. It is excruciating, intense and torturous when it’s at its worst.
“I read an article online about this cure for fibromyalgia.”
Repeat after me, “At the moment there is no proven cure for fibromyalgia!”
“My cousin’s best friend’s boyfriend’s sister has fibromyalgia and she can still climb Mount Everest/do 6 marathons in 6 days/work full time.”
Fibromyalgia is variable and can affect people in very different ways. Please don’t make comparisons.
“Doctors? What do they know? You really must meet my homeopath.”
Herbs or vitamins are not a simple cure for fibromyalgia. We will leave medical advice to the professionals.
We know your heart is in the right place and you mean well. Living with this painful chronic condition is difficult. Coping with the pain, poor sleep, brain fog, fatigue and other symptoms can be debilitating, physically and emotionally. And a flare can temporarily put life on hold. Fibromyalgia can be very isolating so we need the help and support of our friends. Just ask us, “What do you wish people understood about how fibromyalgia affects you?” or “It sounds like it’s a really bad pain day, how can I help?” We’ll appreciate that you are trying to understand and help; it will mean a lot to us.
Keep smiling 🙂