Today my feelings were hurt as a result of another person’s actions towards my illnesses. This is fairly common in my world, much to my dismay.
You see…a large portion of the common public still view fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome as forms of mental distress. Some have been known to call them the ‘yuppie flu.’ There are still medical practitioners behind on the research who believe similar things, which has led me to spend most of my life with a psychiatrist, with absolutely no pain management.
I have lost friends as a result of not being able to act like a ‘normal’ 23 year old female (which is apparently bars, partying, malls, and the like? – I probably just need new friends haha). I have lost boyfriends, who have determined I am too high maintenance. I have family who choose not to speak of the illnesses, and instead just look right through me.
I am a firm believer in harnessing your demons, and fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, and ME/CFS haunt me every single day. I have only managed to generate any feeling of power over these illnesses by talking about them, with the hopes that I can potentially raise some kind of awareness.
If there is one thing I have noticed about my fellow Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS sufferers is that they all have some members in their circle of family and friends who either do not believe that these are real illnesses as they are invisible, or do not believe whatever approach they are taking is the right one (with these thoughts usually delivered forcefully, and not just as a casual recommendation). As a result, I have decided to try and come up with some ways that we can lessen the hurt that comes with this type of negativity.
- Recognize that those in your life who are not chronically ill are never going to be able to fully empathize with you. They may be sympathetic towards your cause, but the concept is still going to be foreign to them. Try to educate those close to you as best as you can, and as for others, let their nasty comments roll off of your back. If you were to put yourself in their shoes, you probably wouldn’t know what to say either.
- Eliminate as many negative influences in your life as possible. Such comments hurt mental health, which will only naturally hurt physical health even more.
- Do NOT start holding grudges against the people close to you. I did this as a young person, and let’s just say it was the end of many a relationship!
- Something as simple as the statement “thanks for you concern,” whether said sarcastically or truthfully, will often dissolve the situation.
- Most of all, make sure that you feel centered with your illness(es), through research, trial and error, and a healthy lifestyle. This will make it easier to stand up for yourself in a rough spot.
Make sure to take extra special care of yourself after you are hurt by other people’s reactions to your invisible illness. Talk (or rant!) to someone who is in a similar situation as yourself [this is why I love Twitter!!]. Take a bubble bath. Veg out in front of a great television show. Do some light exercise. Let the frustration lift from your body.
Stress is a major trigger for nearly every illness in existence. One of the most important things we can ever aim to learn is to lessen our stress in such trying situations.
I have faith in you all (and even some left over for myself!!
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.