Am I Clumsy, or is it Fibro?

Am I Clumsy, or is it Fibro?

finding balance

Growing up, I was known as the family klutz. My parents loved to tell everyone about the multiple times I fell down the stairs without even moving. No matter where we were, they couldn’t wait to bring it up. I know they thought it was funny and didn’t mean any harm, but it still hurt and didn’t do much for my self-esteem.

I was 9 or 10 when it happened. I was standing at the top of the stairs and without moving a muscle, I managed to fall down the stairs and cut my chin open. When I got the bandages off a few weeks later, I did it again.

That’s my first memory of being made fun of for being clumsy. At 52, it still happens. At first, I played along. I would laugh, while inside I felt embarrassed and humiliated. Now, it’s hard for me to hide the hurt and anger I feel when I’m made fun of for something I have no control over.

Some of it has to do with my balance, or lack thereof. I hope I’m never stopped by the police and made to walk a straight line. I’d fail in a big way. I couldn’t walk a straight line to save my life.

For years, I felt like an idiot for falling, running into walls and stumbling over my own feet. No matter how hard I tried, I would do something to embarrass myself and others. I don’t do these things on purpose, but try telling that to the ones who are upset by my mishaps.

I tried physical therapy to help work on my balance, to no avail. The therapist thought I wasn’t doing my exercise homework. I really did, but it didn’t help. Looking back, I think I needed to give it more time and should have sought a second opinion. Maybe it was the therapist and not me.

Beating a person up emotionally because of an illness that they can’t control really says a lot about the other person’s character. My parents didn’t know it was health-related and never would have made fun of me if they had known. Unfortunately, there are people who do know and still are very cruel to me.

One thing I’ve noticed is that stress makes my balance worse. I walk into walls, table corners and doors. I have the bruises to prove it. If I get really worked up, I use essential oils to calm down. Lavender is my go-to oil to relax and clear my head.

Lack of sleep is another big one for me. At times, I am totally exhausted and have trouble functioning. Getting around without hurting myself is close to impossible.

When I was diagnosed with FM, I thought people would stop making fun of me. I thought they would be more understanding. Sadly, that wasn’t the case. Instead of being sympathetic, some people were just the opposite. The diagnosis didn’t change the fact that I was still an embarrassment. Who wants to be out in public with someone who walks into tables and trips over their own feet?

To combat my awkwardness and instability on my feet, I try to get to bed at the same time each night. I also find that coming to grips with the fact that I can’t change who I am, but I can change how I react and respond to others, is crucial to my well-being.

Fibro took away my balance and it makes me look like a fool at times, but it could be worse. People need to lighten up and understand we are human and have feelings. Laughing at others because of an illness is mean-spirited and uncalled for. Stand up for yourself. Try to surround yourself with others who laugh with you, not at you. Life is too short to let others steal your joy.


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.


  1. Bianca says:

    I actually never realized my clumsiness was because of the fibro. Makes a lot of sense now though. I constantly run into the same corner at work. I apologize for those who don’t understand. We all have those people in and around our life.

  2. HJ says:

    I just sent an email to my sleep doctor telling her that I was bumping into things yesterday, because I was so tired.

    I have obstructive sleep apnea and I’m on a CPAP but I still have daytime fatigue so the doctor gave me Adderall. I ran out of my medication yesterday and was bumping into things in the hallway (among other problems). I was glad to get a refill.

    I wanted to write to urge you to get checked for sleep apnea, just in case. I was drop-dead tired before I got treated. After treatment, I was functional but struggling a lot with fatigue. Even THAT was an improvement over, “Some day, they’re going to find me passed out in the parking garage. My legs aren’t going to support me, I’m so exhausted!”

    Sleep apnea can go undiagnosed, and it’s scary not knowing you stop breathing at night. Snoring is a clue, headaches in the AM (I didn’t have that, myself), high blood pressure, getting up to urinate often in the middle of the night… and oddly enough, some of the people I’ve spoken with complained of “roaming pain” (like fibromyalgia!) before they got treated.

    • Glen says:

      I have Fybro, but my consultant wants to rule out OSA because it can have similar symptoms, obviously there can be a dual diagnosis, but it’s interesting that my consultant is now looking at this as another cause of the symptoms I have, maybe more will follow suit and it becomes common practice. I wish you luck and health in your journey and hope for relief in the future.

  3. Grace from Australia says:

    Yes, I can identify with that. Because I have always been very physical, despite having FM symptoms very early on, I control it somehow. I also do things to improve my balance, like bush walks etc. I keep pushing myself in that way (and often pay the price for it after) because I know if I stop it I will only get worse. I also play table tennis once a week with an over 60’s group, but have to take breaks some weeks because I’ve overdone it and the pain is too much. But…when I play it requires me to pay attention and move so I don’t fall etc.

    • Mandy says:

      Like you Grace, I stay quite active to help not only with my balance, but also to help alleviate muscle stiffness and pain. I had similar issues when I was a teenager where I would basically trip over nothing and frequently fall down. As an adult, I don’t fall like I used to, but I do tend to bump into door frames, tables etc. It’s become such a frequent occurrence that I come across bruises on my body that I don’t remember banging! Luckily I have always managed to stay on my feet when we’ve gone hiking, although sometimes it’s difficult.

  4. Dawna says:

    I used to be very sure footed when I was younger. I feel for you having lived so long with such balance issues. Since I’ve been diagnosed with FM I find my balance getting worse by the day. The many bruises I have prove it.
    I hope you learn to feel peace within yourself and let all anger go ☺

  5. Bev says:

    I can identify with your emotional pain and feel for you! I was diagnosed with FMS 12 years ago when I was 42. My husband was making digs about how accident prone I was and I had finally had enough. I told him anyone who was as tired, fatigued and could never relax even during sleep was bound to have some trouble with clumsiness, balance, and accidents. I made it plain I was hurt by his comments and would no longer tolerate them. I also told him I would never point out his weaknesses or any faults that he had as that felt like “throwing a person under the bus”. I said this calmly and without anger 2 years ago and he has never made any more comments. Sometimes it is necessary for us to teach people how to treat us and not accept hurtful behavior from anyone. I hope you can put a stop to this in a productive, firm and loving way. As FMS sufferers, we have enough to deal without having our loved ones treat us this way!

    • Bev says:

      I forgot to mention – 8 years ago I went on a protocol that literally and completely changed my life. The guaifenesin protocol vastly improved all of my FMS symptoms. The quality of my life is so much better in every way: so much less depression and anxiety, from 8 – 10 painkillers a day down to none, a good sleep every night with no sleep meds, way more energy, far less brain fog, no more migraines or tension headaches, better skin and nails and better relationships with loved ones and friends, and a long list of other things. This protocol works if you are patient, determined and do it correctly. Nothing else compares and I tried a lot of pharmaceuticals before this. I will never give up my guaifenesin!

        • Bev says:

          The protocol is explained thoroughly in a book called “What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Fibromyalgia” by R. Paul St. Amand and Claudia Marek. Their website is They both have FMS and so do some of their children & grandchildren. This protocol (when done properly) has helped thousands of people with FMS rid themselves of symptoms and reclaim their lives, including a friend of mine, my two sons and me. Your dose is dependent on your own body, how it responds and what stage of recovery you are in. The website is wonderful as there are people who have been on the protocol for years (including Claudia) who answer questions and help people get started. Once you get used to the protocol, you will more than likely find that it is so worth it since you will feel progressively better and better. It does take time and you will have to be patient. I wish you all the best in your recovery!

      • Donna Speakes says:

        Hi Bev, my name is Donna and I was wondering about the guaifenesin protocol you mentioned. Is it the same where you have to eliminate all salicylates from your your diet and lotions etc.?

        • Bev says:

          Yes Donna, but you do not have to eliminate all salicylates from your diet. There are those like mint, tea, milligram amounts in vitamins, and a few others. It does seem a little overwhelming at first, but once you get used to it and know which products are okay,(there are lists of salicylate free products to choose from), experience clearing with gradually less and less symptoms, and feel so much better you may well wonder how you got through any of your days prior to the guaifenesin protocol! I wish you strength, determination and success.

  6. Wendy says:

    Thanks for your article! I was “clumsy” as a child, even more so now as an adult with FM. I wonder if you or anyone else with FM also has left/right confusion. I get confused and uncoordinated when trying to do things in front of mirrors. Also, when I was in physical therapy, I couldn’t easily mirror a therapist’s movements unless they stood in front of me, with their back facing me. Thanks again for your article, it was very validating and articulated a connection of dots that I had taken for granted.

    • nancy anderson says:

      Wow! Wendy, reading your comment was like reading my own history. Right/left confusion! Dance classes facing the instructor–agony! And trying to figure out which direction to point the hair dryer while looking in the mirror. And the stumbles and fumbles and walking into walls. I’m not an idiot and not a clutz on purpose, but I have felt like one most of my life.

  7. Barbara Moore says:

    I was diagnosed about 2 years ago with, Fibro. Walking into walls, tripping on everything, off balance all the time, etc. has become a norm for me now. One thing I have learned in life. (65 years) We can’t control the way others act, we can only control how we respond or how we perceive what others do, that upsets us. There is nothing wrong with the way they act when teasing, the aren’t meaning to harm you. So, with the knowledge that we can’t control others actions, and we don’t want to walk through life with hurt feelings over one thing or another, then we need to, get over it. ( I know that sounds harsh, but it’s not intended, it’s just fact) So, if people went through life, worrying about what they say or do around everyone, they would pretty much give up being social. Of course, we expect grown adults to know better than to hurt others knowingly. Basically, all I’m saying is, ” we can’t control others and we shouldn’t want to, I’ve seen people that something bothered them so people quit teasing them about it, and then they found out that worked to control how others act around you. Some life. There are plenty of things that bother me, or upset me, but, I can’t imagine expecting anyone to change what they do as long as they aren’t righteously being mean or hurtful.

  8. Grace from Australia says:

    Same here Mandy, always some bruises somewhere. 🙂 Btw, has anyone noticed what I have in the last years; my hand writing is becoming worse at times and… I seem to have almost a bit of dyslexicia when writing. Putting letters too early or in the wrong way. I really have to slow down handwriting so I think about what I write.

  9. Denise Bault says:

    Grace, OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’ve had the dyslexic thing going on now for quite some time. I thought it was due to aging, but I’m only 58. I was a spelling champion and now I have to use spellcheck. Is this another symptom, like the vibrations, nasal congestion, etc. that I never knew was associated? Unreal!

    • Glen says:

      I always have a blocked nose, the vibrations, how pronounced are they, I can sometimes sit there and feel like my phone is vibrating but it isn’t, is this the sort of thing you experience, I also get fog when typing and use wrong words or spell totally wrong. I’m male and newly diagnosed and its really nice to hear i’m not alone in this, always felt like a hypochondriac.

  10. Grace from Australia says:

    Yes it is Denise. I was relieved to see it in a list of symptoms as I am also very a ‘word’ person. Nasal congestion I have too, all the time and the related ‘back drip’. Vibrations I don’t know. How does one recognise it?

  11. Denise Bault says:

    Hi Grace! You’ll recognize the”vibrations” with no trouble. It feels like (I’m guessing) a shot of electricity running through your body. It really is like an inner vibration. Very disconcerting when it first happens, and subsequent times as well. Doesn’t last very long, just long enough to say, “What is going on with my body now and WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?! Glad other folks have said they feel it too. I’ve seen enough doctors and don’t want to go back to a neurologist for this strange symptom…

  12. Grace from Australia says:

    Thanks Denise. I am glad that there is something I don’t have yet but which I now will recognise if it happens. 🙂 All the best with your health!

  13. viviane says:

    I am so sorry, but thank you for sharing,yes, I can relate to your story, people are cruel, but like we say we can choose our friends, the one who understand. love you. keep up the good work. Hugs

  14. Eileen Briesch says:

    I sure understand you. Just a month ago I missed stepping off the curb at a restaurant parking lot and hurt my knee and also fractured a tooth. I saw the curb all right; I just didn’t get my left foot all the way down. This is typical of me. I can trip over my own feet. I’ve always been this way. When I was in high school and we were doing gymnastics, I tried going over the vaulting horse and wound up falling backward. After that, the gym teacher had me spotting people instead of vaulting. My klutziness has earned me some rewards, however: As a sports writer, I fell crossing a auto racing track and hurt my knee. I wrote a column about my exploits and won a first place in column writing for it. Not that the pain wasn’t there. My right knee hasn’t been the same since. It’s the same knee I reinjured a month ago. I’ve had it replaced and revised, and now it’s extremely swollen. Tomorrow I see a revision specialist. I have severe pain in that knee (the last surgeon to work on it says fibromyalics don’t do well with replacements). I think he has no bedside manner. I hope the new guy is better. Thanks for sharing your story. You’re not alone; there are plenty of fellow klutzes out here.

  15. Glen says:

    Has anybody else been prescribed Duloxitine, I find this medication makes me sleepy, but unable to actually physically sleep, and I feel it gives me night terrors, has me yawning all day, makes my pupils look heavily dilated and more clumsy than usual, but it does offer a small degree of pain relief? Just wondered if anyone had similar experience? Thanks Guys in advance.

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