Things You Should Never Say to Someone
Who Has Fibromyalgia
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 and made them feel worse.
You had no idea you did it. It’s unlikely that they told you.
Below is a list of 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 (or any chronic illness).
Related: Symptoms & Signs of Fibromyalgia
1 . You just need to lower your stress level.
There are links between stress and pain, it’s true. However, while lowering our stress levels may improve our pain and fatigue, it won’t cure us.
Chronic pain is itself stressful. So, it’s a bit of a catch-22, making it difficult to lower one when dealing with the other.
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.
2 . 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.
3 . It’s all in your head.
Medical studies have proven that fibromyalgia is not all in our heads. Just because there has been a lack of definitive diagnostic tests, doesn’t mean it’s any less real.
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.
4 . 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. Between 7-10% of those diagnosed with fibromyalgia are men, and that number is growing.
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.
5 . Just push through it.
There’s a misconception that 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 spent years ignoring it and pushing through it before we even began the process of trying to find an answer for the pain.
Even after that we’ve continued to try to just work through it, but it only makes it worse.
6 . 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. The sad truth about pharmaceuticals is that to get approved they only have to provide a 30% improvement to about 30% of the people.
7 . I get achy, too.
Yes, we know… everyone gets aches and pains. But, fibromyalgia (and chronic pain general) is more than just feeling achy. It’s more than just a single headache now and then, or a backache following a particularly busy day.
Unfortunately, chronic pain is not something you can possible imagine unless you live with it. The closest you can come is the next time you have flu, imagine that pain and fatigue you have never going away.
8 . 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 currently taking/doing it. Chances are we’ve spent a good amount of time researching that treatment and know more than our doctor does.
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.
9. You just need to exercise more.
If we had a nickel for every time we’ve heard this we’d all be rich. There seems to be a misconception that fibromyalgia is just caused by not moving enough. It’s not true. There are people who competition runners who experience fibromyalgia.
While we need do to keep moving and keep our muscles stretched out, too much exercise (and especially the wrong kinds of exercise) can actually make our symptoms worse.
10. 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.Chronic pain has taken many lives, both literally when someone decides they can no longer live with the constant pain, and figuratively when the life we've lived and ant to continue living is stripped away. #chronicpain Click To Tweet
And the worst one of all……
11. 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.Exactly what does how I look have to do with how you think I should feel? #butyoudontlooksick Click To Tweet
If you love the person you are talking to, just don’t say any of these things. Doing so could not only leave them feeling hurt, but can lead them to feel anger and resentment towards you, possibly damaging your relationship. It’s just not worth it.
- The fibromyalgia treatments that have helped me most
- My favorite ways to cope with fibromyalgia
- 10 Things you should say to someone with chronic illness
- How you can help someone who has chronic pain & fatigue
This post inspired by The Dirty Dozen Things Not to Say to a Chronic Migraineur