How to Explain Fibromyalgia to Family and Friends

You’re already constantly fatigued and in chronic pain due to fibromyalgia. The last thing you need is to be doubted by family and friends.This invisible disease changes daily and every day you learn to adjust what you can do and can not do.  It is confusing in itself. So how do you go about explaining fibromyalgia to them when they’re already doubtful of your experience? 

And how do you do so without feeling like you’re fighting a losing battle every day? Here are a few of my favorite ways to approach this difficult but needed discussion.

Fibromyalgia Resources for Family and Friends

One of the best ways to explain fibromyalgia to family and friends is to equip them with educational, medical material. Offering a medically-backed resource can be a wonderful way to relieve a massive pressure to “explain yourself” from your shoulders.

After all, just because you live with fibromyalgia doesn’t mean that you have the time to explain it in detail step by step! Instead, direct your family and friends to sources like the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ mini-website on fibromyalgia.

This website in particular is very user-friendly. It has easily navigable tabs on what the condition is, who gets it, and more. It’s not the most in-depth medical paper out there, but it’s a clear first step into understanding the condition. Don’t be afraid to use it as an easier entry-point for friends and family! It can truly ease your headspace and time.

“Normal” Appearance Despite Fibromyalgia

One of the tricky things about fibromyalgia is that it can almost appear as an invisible condition. 

Some of your friends and even family members may comment that you look normal and healthy. In reality, you may be experiencing extreme pain and exhaustion from fibromyalgia. Brain fog is also a serious side effect of fibromyalgia and one that is easily forgotten by peers.

When introducing people to fibromyalgia, it can be helpful to introduce them to spoon theory. This theory was penned by Christine Miserandino. It is a popular description used by those dealing with chronic illness.

Essentially, one’s energy and capacity for daily tasks can be measured in “spoons.” Those with fibromyalgia and other chronic illnesses have fewer spoons to start a day off with compared to individuals who are healthier.

Describing this theory to your friends may help them quantify what you are going through. Sometimes, people also need to be reminded that invisible symptoms exist and can still be debilitating, much like common colds and migraines.

At the end of the day, remember that you have the power to choose your friends and who you define as family. Those who truly care for you will listen to your feelings seriously.

Separating Relationships and Responsibility

As someone with fibromyalgia, it can be hard to feel like educating about your condition is not your job. You’re often the closest person to the condition in your family and friend circle. Your knowledge and experiences are valid.

And yet, it can be simply exhausting to have to teach family and friends, new and old, about something you experience day-in and day-out. By offering a few educational resources before sharing your own personal experiences, you may be able to relieve some “teacher burden.”

Ready to read more on how to live better with fibromyalgia daily? I was diagnosed in October 2014 and have made it my blog’s mission to help you live better and know that you are not alone. Read more on Fibromyalgia Living Daily today.


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