Defining Fibromyalgia: The Bank Account Analogy

Its been several years since I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and though I talk about it sometimes, I haven’t felt I’ve been able to explain it in a way that could be easily understood. Perhaps you’ve heard of the “spoon theory,” but that analogy has never sat well with me, for various reasons. So, I’m going to take a stab at this in my own terms.

Imagine that the amount of energy you have is like money in the bank. You can save it, you can spend it, and you generally know what your balance is and what you can afford. You are, for the most part, in control.

Now, imagine you woke up each morning with a different amount of money in your bank account, and there’s no rhyme or reason for it. Sometimes you wake up broke, even though you spent nothing the day before. Some days you wake up with a higher balance than yesterday, but then that balance magically depletes over the course of the morning and you find yourself broke again. Sometimes random deposits show up, disorienting
you because you weren’t expecting them and aren’t sure what to do with them. You try your best to save and not spend, yet your balance never seems to reflect this. No matter how much research you do, how many experts you meet with, and how many different budgets you try, you cannot get control of your account balance. You just can’t.

This is a simplistic comparison and it really only addresses the energy and fatigue issue with fibromyalgia – and not the other major symptoms like pain, brain fog, etc. But if you can take away the basic concepts here, of losing what you’d always taken for granted, of never really knowing what you’ll face on any given day, and mostly of not being able to control any of it – then I think you’ll be that much closer to understanding what it’s like to have fibromyalgia (or other chronic illnesses).

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