Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

finding balance


Those of us who suffer from a chronic illness understand the importance of support and friendship. That is why I turned to websites like Fibromyalgia News Today and online support groups. People who are going through the same or similar experiences are valuable, not just for the emotional support and validation but also for information and advice.

If you do not have a chronic illness, this may be hard to understand. Most of us have been let down at some point in our lives by the medical community, our family, friends, employers, and co-workers. We’ve been accused of not being sick at all, or of being lazy and unmotivated. We’ve been called hypochondriacs and told we use our illness as an excuse to get out of events or other activities.

Lately, it seems as if animosity and divisiveness are starting to creep into the comments, not only on this site but also on Facebook and in the support groups. It appears that some of us are letting our pain and misery get the best of us. Some are attacking others for petty and selfish reasons. I am shocked and saddened by what I’ve been reading lately.

Fibromyalgia is awful. None of us would wish this on our worst enemies (well, maybe the worst ones). Frustration, bitterness, and anxiety can make us testy, to say the least, but taking that out on fellow sufferers isn’t nice, or fair.

I understand feeling upset and frustrated. That’s my life! I live it daily, but I should not take it out on others, especially those who are going through hell as well. What does that accomplish?

There are a few things that I feel never should be said by one sufferer to another. Here are some examples of what I mean:

  1. “You can’t have fibro if you are still working, hiking, exercising, etc.” Just because you can’t ride a bike or go whitewater rafting doesn’t mean that others can’t. Not all of us suffer from the same underlying illnesses. Some have a higher pain tolerance, or do well with certain medications. How do you know YOU have fibro? There is no definitive test to determine either way. Until there is, let’s not accuse someone of lying and instead be happy that they are still able to be active or work.
  2. “I have friends, so if you don’t, you need to look within yourself.” Really? All of us are different. Some of us don’t have friends for varying reasons. Know the full story before insulting someone who is clearly sad and depressed. You aren’t making the situation any better by being mean or rude.
  3. “Quit whining or complaining.” All of us, at one time or another, need to vent, whine, cry, or complain. We are all human. All of us are suffering. Let’s be there for each other instead of being insulting, mocking, or degrading. Love and compassion are needed, not rude behavior and lack of empathy.
  4. “Get a life.” This comment shocked me the most! How can you say that to someone who is in pain and obviously suffering? Some of us don’t have much of a life because of this condition. Instead of being mean and cruel, how about coming up with some solutions to a person’s problem or giving some friendly advice or even some hope? Or, how about you don’t say anything at all and just move along?

Always think before you say or write something that can hurt or belittle someone else. Always be the bigger person. If you can’t be that person, look the other way.

We all have our moments, and can lash out at people for reasons that sometimes aren’t even known to us. But how we handle those moments is what defines us. Do you apologize sincerely, or do you walk away leaving some poor person in emotional tatters?

Being good to others doesn’t cost anything. Let’s be more loving and compassionate to our fellow warriors. We all need friendship and support at one time or another. It’s time to put differences aside and be there for each other. Are you with me?


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. LisaR says:

    Thank you for writing this. I was surprised by all the mean and negative comments towards Lady Gaga after her video. “She can’t really have Fibro if she dances like that.” Etc etc Some people push themselves and can do a lot and then pay the price afterwards (which she apparently does). We should all know better than to judge another Fibro patient or doubt whether they “really” have it. We all have gotten too much of that before!

  2. Gray says:

    I am a solid believer in that no-one can know how a person feels, unless you experience the exact same yourself.

    How can you make assumptions on being a mother, unless you ARE a mother? The same can be said of fathers too of course!

    So many of us feel that our own opinion is the correct one, and that you assume that other people feel the same way.

    Out of the multiple possible symptoms that fibromyalgia sufferers can have, it is only possible to feel what a given person feels unless you ARE that person with the EXACT same symptoms. You will never know, how bad pain is for “other people”. This is why it can take years before you end up with the best possible medication that fits “YOU” the best.

    Don’t you think?

  3. StevefromMA says:

    Years of chronic pain change us and the people around and not in a good way. Trying to keep moving forward with chronic pain is a constant challenge.

  4. jeremy says:

    That’s true Lisa R people with fibro all suffer with pain in there own way I have had fibro for the last 10 years I have been told I am not the same person I need to get a life you need a hobby these are people are friends who I have known for over 40 years who know I have fibro I have tried to explain what I am going through my own sister said its all in the mind I wish I could give it to the ones who say its just a bit of backache and see what the bit of backache feels like .

  5. PollyG. says:

    This was a great column. But here’s the thing~~we all understand the horrors of this condition, but how do we get the general public to know these things? Even our own family members are uninformed. As chronic sufferers of (too many to list) Horrific Things, we can’t tell Normal People every thing that’s happening to us because we feel awful about whining.

    My friends are long gone, because I can’t cook our Every Saturday Huge Meal, clean up, and then go out do something else fun. My own two adult kids couldn’t possibly care less. I haven’t seen my daughter in 6 years, my son in 2 years. Isolation is one of the off~shoots of FM, for sure, but it’s interesting how this occurs.

    So, it seems like the problem is getting through to the public with this information. Pinterest has a lot of great Pins about it~~but again, no one is going to look at them if they don’t have the disorder. How do we do it? Public seminars? Workshops? Written essays, but distributed to whom, and how?

    I don’t the answers to any of this, nor do I have the answers to any of the other thousands of questions I have. But I really do appreciate the chance to speak among understanding people here.

    • Marita Mitchell says:

      Hi Polly
      When the 6 stages of Fibromyalgia appeared on Facebook, I thought about it long and hard. Finally I posted it to all, telling them I was stage 6. The response was overwhelming, kindness, sympathy, care. My very best friend thanked me, because she had never fully understood what I live with. I went back to a dear therapist I had seen a long time ago. I needed to pay someone to listen. His wisdom and kindness will stay with me for a long time. I am virtually house-bound, but I try to complain less, be less angry, and when people phone or visit I am cheerful. It helps me and them. You do need people. Tell them once, very clearly, what your life is like. Ask for what you need, especially from your children. Even though you can’t give meals and partying anymore, you can give love and humour and laughter. Attract people anyway. We really, really need others and have to woo them to our side.
      Bless you, I send sympathy and understanding your way.

  6. Marita Mitchell says:

    Hi Carrie
    Oh well said. I am so grateful to you. I have resigned from many support groups because of the meanness I have found there. I stupidly thought those groups would be about kindness, sharing of ideas and support, but instead comments were critical and angry.
    I agree, let’s be kind to others and ourselves. Fibro is hard enough.

    • PollyG. says:

      Thanks, Marita. You are right. It’s been about 7 years since I’ve had any company or visitors at all, except for my stepson and his wife, who have visited twice.

      I blamed everyone else for not caring, but maybe I didn’t do enough to nurture the relationships. Your advice was great. Thanks!

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