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:
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.
- “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.