How a Text From a Friend Helped Ease the Guilt of Fibromyalgia

I think chronic illness of any kind really makes you appreciate the friends in your life who’ve stuck around, those who didn’t turn around and run away from you and your condition – all because they didn’t know how to handle it.

One of my friends reminds me of the Energizer Bunny. She just keeps “going and going.” She has a busy life, being a mother to two young children under the age of five.

One day, she asked if I would be available to pick up her son from Pre-K in case she was running late after spending the morning with a friend in the hospital. At first, I agreed. But as the morning progressed, I realized I was in the middle of a fibromyalgia flare and the only thing I needed to do after work was collapse onto my bed.

There was no way I was going to be able to stay awake long enough to pick up her son and keep him company until she arrived.  So, with a guilt-ridden conscience, I cancelled. She was so understanding, as she always is, and simply found someone else to be on stand-by.

For days after, I felt so guilty and upset at myself for having to cancel. I started to think she was mad at me for being so unreliable or maybe she thought I was a flake. Deep down, I tried to convince myself otherwise, but this fibromyalgia minion messes with your head in ways healthier people can’t understand.

A few weeks later, she texted me just to see how I was doing. We got to talking and I mentioned how I was now a published writer on The Mighty. She was so excited and immediately asked to read one of my stories. I sent her the link and waited to see what she thought. She loved it!

As excited as I was to get positive feedback, what really touched my heart was her appreciation for my article. She told me how glad she was I wrote my piece, because, up until then, she didn’t always understand what I go through. Now, she could understand just how hard it was for me to sleep with fibromyalgia and since she loves to sleep, she could really sympathize when I had bad nights. Her next text warmed my heart even more. She told me I could always talk to her about the bad days, because that’s what friends are for. She even offered to help me out any way she could.

This really made me feel good because most of the time I feel invisible. I can sit in a room full of people and feel alone, like people only stop and talk to me because they’re waiting for someone better to come along.

I see how easy it is for others to make friends and engage in conversations that seem so exciting and funny. And there I sit, hoping someone, just one person, will reach out and make me feel visible.

While I do have a few friends in my life that know about my fibromyalgia, it’s not always easy to be so straightforward about my struggles. Even though I’m aware people can only help when they know what’s going on, that’s a lot easier said than done. So many times, I just put on a smile and say I’m “OK.” It’s easier than offering someone a glimpse into my life just to be told, “Oh, that’s nothing,” or, “You’re too young to know what pain is,” or any number of self-esteem crushing comments.

To have a friend be so supportive, so non-judgmental and take the initiative to offer help is something I will always cherish. Her texts helped me remember that not all people will look down on my condition. There are kind-hearted people out there who still know the meaning of the word “friend.”

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