Coping with Feelings of Guilt Associated with Fibromyalgia

Coping with Feelings of Guilt Associated with Fibromyalgia

Through the Fog
While there may have been a traumatic event that triggered your fibromyalgia, it is NOT your fault. You didn’t bring it on yourself. Your body may have been predisposed to FM, which probably is why you were symptomatic long before your diagnosis. Feeling guilty and thinking you may have been able to do something to avoid it is futile, and a waste of your valuable energy.

You may feel guilty because you’re unable to do even the simplest things for yourself or your family. Perhaps the guilt comes from no longer being able to hold down a job.

A few things that can cause guilt with FM

Working: Whether you are the sole provider, or help to contribute to the family financially, there’s a lot of guilt and grief when you no longer can work. Your friends and family may not really understand why you can’t work and that may contribute to your guilt feelings. Let it go.

Cooking and cleaning: As a woman, I feel this especially when we’re no longer able to keep up with cleaning and laundry. Cooking becomes a dreaded activity, instead of a normal activity, in your day. When I’m particularly fatigued I always opt for what’s easy: Sandwiches, pizza delivered, frozen meals, or even cereal. FM takes away so much.

Parenting: If you have young or school-aged children, the guilt can become paralyzing. We can’t play like we’d like to, or take our kids to the park or museums. We feel guilty if we spend a lot of time in bed or on the sofa, not to mention that kids come with an innate ability to make us parents feel guilty. Remind yourself this is not your fault, and you’re doing the best you can. Your children probably will be more compassionate than their peers because of your FM.

I think one way to combat all this guilt is to change the way we talk to ourselves. What we say about ourselves, and to ourselves, greatly impacts our reality.

Here are some examples of how I have changed the way I talk to myself, or about myself, in an effort to be more compassionate. 

When I lay down or take a nap, I’m not being lazy, I’m doing what my body needs.

I didn’t ask for FM, so I shouldn’t feel guilt that it keeps me from doing some things.

I may not be able to do a lot of things with my kids, but I’m here and always available to talk.

It’s really about setting aside the guilt, and embracing the challenges in a more positive way. Guilt impacts our mental and physical health negatively, so we need to find and then accentuate the positive. I know it’s not necessarily easy, especially on those bad FM days, but it should be our goal.

What makes you feel guilty?

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Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

22 comments

  1. PAMELA BERGMANN-KNEBEL says:

    I LIVE WITH SOME GUILT BUT TRY TO TELL MYSELF I HAVE A CHRONIC DISEASE AND JUST CAN’T DO WHAT I USED TO. MY MIND IS WILLING AND WANTS TO BUT WHEN I START SOMETHING I SOON LEARN I HAVE TERRIBLE LIMITATIONS AND IT MAKES ME MAD. I WOULD GIVE ANYTHING TO HAVE THE ENERGY AND ABILITIES THAT I USED TO. I HATE THIS DISEASE WITH A PASSION.

    • Bonnie says:

      DITTO Pamela…Bad day today and wouldn’t wish this disease on my worst enemy (as the old saying goes). Take care.

    • Em says:

      I still have days I feel the same as you are describing. I also get angry when my body will not listen to my brain which only makes the pain worse. Yes, I can relate to the anger you have-I try to remind myself getting bent out of shape does not help.
      Much easier said than done.
      You do have a chronic illness and my line is, “Can’t change, can’t fix it”. Not meaning to come across as preachy. I do get it Pamela.
      Blessings and some moments of peace.

  2. Dear Robin,Just about everything makes me feel guilty,especially when the depression is bad.Here is a joke I once heard,What do Catholics eat for lunch? Guilt cheese sandwiches!!I hope this does’t offend anyone,but I was raised in the Catholic religion, in the old days, and I took everything to heart.I completely understand if you don’t put this post on line.So,with that said,guilt has been a huge issue for me as long as I can remember.Fibro just reinforces all of the guilt feelings for me.Acceptance is the only way through this illness.One day at a time.Thanks for listening. Take care and God bless you for your caring and compassion.

    • Em says:

      There are days I am not sure whether or not my name is “GUILT”. Acceptance can be an extremely demanding word and necessary as well.

    • Em says:

      Not at all offended Cheryl. That type of humor is perverse and helps no one. I could not laugh at such a remark and no one ought to laugh at this type of thing. I was not raised Catholic any do not take any offense. These type of remarks are guilt inducing. My opinion-God does not give guilt. There is a difference between guilt and conviction.

      Acceptance can also come and go.

  3. Thank you so much, Robin, for addressing the feelings of guilt in those of us who have fibromyalgia! SO MANY of my fibromyalgia patients feel guilty about having the condition. Many of my fibromyalgia patients feel guilty if one of their children develop the condition, knowing that it has a strong genetic component and they probably passed it on to their child.

  4. Allison says:

    I’ve learned to tell myself, “I am doing my very best,and that is good enough.” It’s true though, our best is all we can do…and that may be just coping.

  5. Em says:

    I so hope this fibro thing does not become an invisible illness for my adult children as I would feel so guilty to have passed this on. So far so good. I know of no one in my familial group that has fibro. Egads! Trust I did not mutate and pass this on.

    • Tim Bossie says:

      We know exactly what you mean. Our biggest fears as a parent is that our children will go through the same things we do.

  6. Em says:

    Thanks Tim. Affirmation means a lot and it is reassuring to know that I am not alone in my fears and concerns. I would not wish this type of thing for anyone although to some who have been cruel and accusatory mayhap a day or even 30 minutes would help some understand. Things are oft inherited. I have also been told that someone w/ PTSD is even more prone to fibro-whether this has been substantiated in any way-? Working on this as well. Finally found a therapist w/ boundaries, ethics and remains professional. This can also take time. I ceased therapy because of several negative experiences-1 did get a 99 year suspension so 1 less predator in the business.
    I owned my own business and worked out of my home whilst I was also raising 3 children, tending a large vegetable garden to supplement 3 growing children w/ organic veggies and sold the surplus when organic was hard to find. Now I am able to pass this knowledge on to them. Even though I cannot do the labor I can instruct.
    Things could be much worse and my children know their mother has never been a lazy person. Some days are better than others. The grand kids are so delightful and give me the incentive to keep trying to do better. Meds do dreadful things to this fibro woman and my primary care physician gets it-a rare thing indeed.
    I have much to be thankful for and at times do succumb to having a pity party and do not stay there long as this only exacerbates the situation.
    Time to fix some turmeric tea w/ a dash of black pepper to aid in the release of curcumin-I prefer fresh when I can find it. Going to try growing my own in some of my homemade compost. Winters here are too cold, but it can come in for the winter :).
    Certainly did get off the topic.
    Blessings, Em

  7. Vee says:

    I’m feeling guilty today. Had to call in to work. Body hurts,other ailments. Never-ending. Just trying to cope, rough sometimes

    • Em says:

      Hugs to you Vee. Guilt is a destroyer and so damaging. I struggle w/ this as well at times. A hard thing for so many. Society plays a part in this social disease. I go there far to often myself. So oft in fear of the other shoe falling.
      thankful for what I have learned. Even found I do enjoy some of the support online groups. This alone shocked me!!! Rather scary as well.
      Take care.

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