Someone you know and love has Fibromyalgia or suffers from some sort of chronic pain. And, at some point you’ve said something to them that hurt their feelings. You had no idea you did it. It’s unlikely that they told you. Below is a list of 10 things that you’ve likely said at some point to someone you care about, and in doing so you unknowingly made them feel even worse. Don’t do it again. These are things you should never say to someone with Fibromyalgia.
- You just need to lower your stress level. – While lowering our stress levels may improve our pain and fatigue, it won’t cure us. Having someone tell us to lower our stress level is actually rather stressful, and just makes us feel worse. It reminds us of all the reasons our stress level is high and of why it’s so difficult to lower it.
- It can’t hurt that bad. – You have no idea how bad it hurts. Your theory that because we aren’t lying in bed writhing in pain means it doesn’t really hurt that bad, is wrong. We get up each day and do what we can, because we must. We learn to tolerate higher levels of pain than most people will ever feel, because it’s the only choice we have.
- It’s all in your head. – If medical tests and studies have proven that it’s not all in our heads, then you need to believe that as well. Fibromyalgia is real. The pain we experience is real. Just because they’ve yet to find what causes our pain, doesn’t mean we aren’t feeling it.
- It’s a “woman thing”. – There is a mistaken idea that only women suffer from Fibromyalgia, or chronic pain in general, it’s not true. Fibromyalgia is often treated much like “hysteria” 100 years ago; that it’s just women wanting attention. Trust me when I say that we don’t want attention. In fact, we’d love to completely ignore that we are sick. But, we can’t.
- Just push through it. – If you just ignore it and work through it, it’ll just go away. It doesn’t just go away if we work through it. Most of us try to just ignore it and work through it for years before we finally can’t take it anymore. Even once we give in we continue to try to just work through it, but it only makes it worse.
- Why don’t you just take that medication they show on tv? – Those commercials on tv for Fibromyalgia medications seem to imply that if we just take this pill all will be right in the world and all our limits will be removed. It’s not true. Most of us have attempted to take every medication available, often with terrible side effects that make us feel even worse.
- I get achy, too. – Yes, we know… everyone gets aches and pains. However, the next time you have flu, imagine that pain and fatigue you have never going away.
- I read about something that helps…. You should try….. – Yeah we read that, too. In fact, we’ve probably already tried it, or we are already taking it. We appreciate your care and concern and that you want us to feel better, but we are doing everything we feel that we can do to feel better.
- You just need to exercise more. – If we had a nickel for every time we’ve heard this. While we need to keep moving and keep our muscles stretched out, too much exercise actually makes our symptoms worse.
- At least it’s not fatal. – Seriously!? Never say this! You have no idea how often Fibromyalgia / Chronic pain becomes fatal when the sufferer can’t take the pain anymore and commits suicide. Also, there’s more than one way to end a life. Just because you aren’t dead doesn’t mean your life hasn’t ended.And the worst one of all……
- You look like you feel good/ You don’t look sick. – This is probably the worst thing you can say to someone with any chronic illness. Whether it’s Fibro, Lupus, migraines, or even cancer. How we look on the outside doesn’t matter because it’s not a reflection of how we actually feel.
This post inspired by The Dirty Dozen Things Not to Say to a Chronic Migraineur