It’s Hard to Explain Fibromyalgia to a Healthy Person

It’s Hard to Explain Fibromyalgia to a Healthy Person

Fibromyalgia is such a complex disorder that trying to explain it to a healthy person can be challenging. I want people to get it without some kind of explanation, but that’s never going to happen. 

Because fibromyalgia affects the brain and nervous system, pain and other symptoms can come and go, move around, and change in intensity. When we overdo things, we enter the arena known as a flare. It’s our body’s ingenious way of letting us know we need to slow down and back off.

When you’re trying to communicate this to a healthy person, it sometimes makes sense to compare what you’re going through to something the other person has experienced and can relate to. Some examples might be:

  • Remember how exhausted and achy you were when you had the flu? I feel like that almost every day.
  • I know how sleep-deprived you felt when you had a newborn and were being woken up several times a night. I experience that same thing, but without the sweet baby in the mix.
  • You know how sluggish and out of it you feel when anesthesia is wearing off? I call that brain fog, and it can last for hours or days at a time.
  • How about pulling those all-nighters in college and feeling totally useless the next day? That is my almost-daily experience.
  • How about the jet lag from that 16-hour flight you took? It was days before you felt ”normal” again. I feel jet-lagged most days.
  • Isn’t it frustrating when you go into the next room and forget what you were going to do? I can forget something mere seconds after thinking about it. Everyone experiences things like forgetting someone’s name, but I even forget simple words — like what that thing over there is called.

I don’t mean to minimize the things in a healthy person’s life that cause them suffering and frustration. I’m just trying in very small, relatable ways to give them a glimpse into the life I live every day.

Stressors that can affect my symptoms to differing degrees include:

  • Emotional distress
  • Changes in weather
  • Sleep issues
  • Worry
  • Car travel
  • Family conflicts
  • Physical illness
  • Physical injuries or infections
  • Allergies
  • Lack of emotional support
  • Inability to be physically active

We each experience our illness differently and to varying degrees. I may experience less pain than some or more fatigue than others. While I’m no longer able to work outside the home, many struggle to continue doing just that. This is just a small snapshot of what our lives are like. We are not looking for pity, just a little understanding and compassion.


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.

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