When Fibromyalgia Makes You Feel Like a Burden
Along with the physical symptoms of fibromyalgia is a less-visible but still devastating side effect: the emotional impact of those physical challenges. Not being able to visit friends, for example, or run errands can lead to feeling like you’re a burden on others. Having fibromyalgia isn’t your fault, but it can still be tough to navigate the difficult adjustments it requires of your life.
To help other people with fibromyalgia deal with feeling like a burden, we asked our community with fibromyalgia what advice they would give others who are experiencing these emotions. These responses are from people who know exactly what you’re going through and have developed strategies for feeling proud of yourself and what you’re accomplishing each day.
Here’s what the community said:
1. “Listen to your body and make yourself a priority. If you need a nap, take it, if you need to rest, do it, if you need to cry, cry. Just pay attention and focus on your recovery, even if that means being selfish. Stay warm and try to be as calm as possible.”
2. “Don’t ignore feelings of hopelessness, try not to assume how others feel about you, and reach out and take help if it’s available. Those who truly care about you will love you just as they did before. You are worth fighting for and you are still of great value.”
3. “Every task accomplished, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem, is a victory. Never stop celebrating your victories! And know that our whole invisible illness community is celebrating them with you.”
4. “Remind yourself that others who you would never think were a burden may feel like one… Sometimes on bad days it’s harder to remember that, but surrounding yourself with loving and supportive people helps.”
5. “Prove yourself wrong. Do something productive – anything. Sort out all the pens in the house. Lie on the bedroom floor and clean the skirting boards. Then congratulate yourself. This is just a moment.”
6. “I ask my loved ones if there is something I can do to make their day better. Most of the time it’s as easy as sending a cute picture of my dog.”
7. “I strive to remain calm at all times. Anxiety just makes my fibromyalgia worse. I long ago decided on what is the minimum I must do each day, and pace myself to get that much done. If I can, I add one more thing I’d like to get done. The feeling of accomplishment when all is done gives me a huge boost in spirit.”
8. “I write. I write about every person left in my life and what they do for me and the support they’ve given me. I can read it back and know these people are going to love me no matter what and do this out of love and understanding. It lessens the pain I feel I put on them.”
9. “I surround myself with people who are understanding. I tell them how much they mean to me. I also think it’s important to find a mantra to remind yourself you are more than your fibro. It could be a song, a poem, or a phrase. Mine is ‘You are More’ by Tenth Avenue North. I sing it to myself or play it on days I feel like a burden.”
10. “I remember that whenever someone wants to confide in me or ask for my help, they always say some variation of ‘sorry to unload on you.’ We are all, to some extent, hesitant to be vulnerable to others. It helps to be reminded we’re not so fundamentally different.”
11. “I struggle with this feeling every day. I make sure to keep in touch with my loved ones who truly care and support me, even though there are very few. I also have an online support system full of amazing fibro friends who are always there to listen and share experiences.”
12. “Realize it is OK to ask for help from your family or friends. They love you and are there for you, even if you feel like you don’t deserve it, and they want to help. Don’t make yourself feel guilty for what you can’t control.”
13. “Know the people who love you the most want to see you in the best and the worst of times. It’s not your fault that you are in pain, and anyone who will help you through it will know that.”
14. “Be selective of friends; the ones who give support, keep around to share feelings. The people who don’t want to hear your complaints are just negatives who will create more pain. So keep a good support system.”
15. “There is no shame in self-care, and don’t let yourself of others tell you otherwise. Do not feel like it’s a selfish act to put yourself before anyone or anything else. Your needs are legit. Your needs are not selfish.”
Does your condition ever make you feel like a burden to others? If so, how do you cope with those feelings? Share your advice in the comments.