Have you ever thought how much easier it would be if your friends and family could understand a little better what you go through with fibromyalgia? I think one of the best ways to help them is to come up with analogies to which they can relate. Let’s bring our symptoms into their spheres of understanding. Perhaps you’ll find these examples and info an easy way to share.
Let’s say you decided to have a barbecue and you invited about 25 people. Four of your friends said they would come and help. On the day of the barbecue, your friends don’t show up to help. Not only that, but 100 people show up to eat. Talk about overwhelming! That’s what happens when our cells send out too many pain signals (all the people we didn’t invite). We don’t have enough serotonin in our brains to properly process the pain signals that our cells are sending to all parts of our body, where no sign of damage exists. Those are misinterpreted sensations that our nerves and brains turn into actual pain. It’s frustrating that there’s no physical evidence of injury, so people often automatically assume it’s all in our heads.
Good days and bad
Just like our blood pressure or weight can fluctuate during the day or week, we can sometimes do something today that tomorrow is completely impossible. If your sister saw you out to lunch today with a friend, but then you had to cancel a coffee date with her two days later, she will not really get that you are truly a slave to your body. You have no control over when the fatigue or pain will be too much on any given day or even in a moment. Sometimes, we’re in the zone and sometimes we’re not. Others also don’t see that going to their party (where you appeared to be OK) put you in bed for the next several days. Most people tend to put their best face forward in public, and we are no exception.
Oh, the fatigue
If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter in college to finish a paper or cram for a test, you know. If you’ve ever been up every two hours with a hungry baby. Or, if you’ve ever had to lose sleep because you were caring for someone who was ill. These analogies almost come close to the fatigue that we feel every day. Often, we are working, shopping for our family, cooking dinner, caring for children, etc., and we are always running on empty. When we push ourselves, we always pay the price. For normal people who struggle with the above symptoms, a couple of good nights of sleep will restore your energy and sense of well-being. Those of us with fibromyalgia, however, sometimes have ongoing sleep issues that prevent us from ever feeling refreshed. Issues such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and insomnia, to name a few.
Relating to and understanding fibromyalgia by comparing it to circumstances in your own life will go a long way toward building your compassion for those with chronic illness, and decreasing your judgment about something for which you didn’t have a frame of reference. I’ve always found that analogies work for me in creating “a-ha” moments for things I find hard to grasp. I hope this helps you.
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.