Ask Me How I Feel

Ask Me How I Feel
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I’ve been thinking about the challenge it must be for our friends and family to deal with us as fibromyalgia patients.

If we’ve interacted with them on a daily basis over a long period of time, chances are they were around when we went through some really bad times — maybe even experiencing the symptoms that ultimately led to our diagnosis.

These people know that we feel miserable much of the time. If we’re lucky, they also know that occasionally (rare that it may be), we feel almost normal. Of course, everything is relative. What feels like normal to us might feel really bad to someone who’s accustomed to feeling right as rain every day.

Those who don’t live with us and see our day-to-day struggles are most confused about our health. As with most other aspects of life, people avoid the things that make them feel uncomfortable. Because they don’t know what’s going on with us health-wise, they hesitate to ask.

When they see us looking well after an unexplained absence, they must wonder whether another reason explains why they haven’t seen us in the past few weeks, instead of our usual excuse of being ill. They may think they’d misremembered that we’d been unwell, that we had other commitments, or that we’d just been making excuses. Rather than risk feeling uncomfortable, they may mention nothing at all about our health.

There was a time when I felt slighted by omissions like this. Didn’t these people care that I was sick? Did they think I was faking my illness when I had to cancel the last three events we were scheduled to attend together? What did they think I was doing?

But then I remembered the fake smile I had on my face. My efforts to appear healthy to help myself feel better obviously had results I hadn’t considered. If each time we’re together I look perfectly healthy, why would anyone think I wasn’t? No wonder these people are confused! No wonder they aren’t offering me the sympathy or understanding that I would so welcome.

I realized that the only one who knows how I feel is me. It’s understandable that I would receive so little comfort from the people I know and love. I’m not sure there’s a solution to this dilemma. Perhaps that’s the reason I decided to write a poem about it — more for my own gratification than for any other reason. Maybe someday I’ll share it with someone who cares about me. Maybe you’d like to share it with someone who cares about you?

Ask Me How I Feel (A Fibromyalgia Poem)

Ask Me How I Feel      

But please allow me to change the subject quickly. Some days I would rather not talk about my troubles.

Ask Me How I Feel

Just be prepared to listen if you ask. Occasionally I need a sympathetic ear. This may be that occasion.

Ask Me How I Feel

And if I choose to share my pain with you, please don’t respond with false cheer. It only emphasizes how different your world is from mine.

Ask Me How I Feel      

But don’t be quick to offer me advice. Know that I am always processing information about my illness and that feeling better is my ultimate goal.

Ask Me How I Feel

And if you’re also hurting, please tell me. It helps me to know that my problems are not unique. And comforting you helps me feel better about me.

Ask Me How I Feel      

And please understand that although I am always interested in what you have to say, I listen better on my good days.

Ask Me How I Feel      

And ask me often. You’ll be surprised at my responses. I may be having a very good day — but you won’t know if you don’t ask.

Ask Me How I Feel

And on my good days let’s celebrate by making happy memories that help me through the days that aren’t so good.

And above all, Ask Me How I Feel

Because it’s the only way I know that you care. I am always grateful for your asking even when I fail to tell you so.

© 2007 Christine Danella Lynch

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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.

Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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