I’ve learned a great deal from having fibro. Some are lessons I wish I’d never experienced, while others have made me a better person. Following are five things I’ve learned:
1. It’s OK to say ‘no.’
I spent most of my life trying to please everyone, so I rarely uttered the word “No.” Now it seems like the only answer to every question I’m asked. Saying no was something I hated to do. I felt like I was letting people down. Learning how to say it and not feel guilty was difficult.
I came to the realization that my body will not allow me to do everything I would like to. It isn’t my fault and I should not feel guilty for it. I no longer volunteer or sign myself up for events or projects, because I can’t always keep my commitments. I hate to cancel at the last minute, but there are times when it is necessary. I’ve talked with family and friends so they understand there are times when I can’t make it due to my health. If they don’t understand, that is their problem, not mine.
2. Not all doctors know what they are doing.
Doctors are normal, everyday people. They make mistakes. They don’t know it all. They have bad days and sometimes make decisions they shouldn’t. If I think any medical professional doesn’t understand what I am saying or they don’t listen to me, I’m out of there. Time for a new doctor. Getting a second, or even third opinion is not a bad thing. If it doesn’t feel right to me, I go elsewhere. My health depends on physicians who are knowledgeable and who take the time to listen to me.
3. Listen to your body.
I hate to admit it, but I brought some of my pain and suffering on myself. I didn’t listen to my body when I should have. If I’m in a lot of pain, now I rest. I don’t push myself like I did when I was younger. Being in tune with your body is one of the best ways to tell when a flare is about to take hold. I have telltale signs I look for. Headaches and shoulder pain are usually the first indicators that a flare is around the corner. I can’t stop it, but I can be prepared for it.
4. I found out who my REAL friends are.
I’ve lost friends and family because of my illness. I learned the hard way who really cares about me. I’ve cut some people out of my life because being around them was detrimental to my health. Why do I want to subject myself to negativity and accusations? I prefer people who build me up, not those who tear me down.
5. I am not alone.
And neither are you. When I first began experiencing symptoms, computers and the internet didn’t exist. Now we have the world at our fingertips. Online support groups have been a source of friendship and love. There are so many others just like me from all over the world. I now have friends I can commiserate with, which I find cathartic. I value the friends I have made online. I’ve met some amazing fibro warriors who have taught me more about this illness and also showed me that I still matter.
My illness does not define me, but it has changed my life in ways I never imagined. Taking the time to really think about what fibromyalgia has taught me has given me a new appreciation of life. Seeing how I’ve evolved over the years isn’t as depressing as I thought it would be. Even though I’ve suffered physically and emotionally, I am a stronger person because of it.
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.