Why Making Commitments Terrifies Me as Someone With Fibromyalgia

Why did I plan to go out tonight? Why did I schedule my appointment for today? Why didn’t I plan to stay home today? Anything I commit to ends up causing anxiety, and I regret doing so. Even agreeing to go sit at someone’s house that I’ve been best friends with for years, or the doctor appointment I’ve been needing so badly, or a shift for a job that I honestly love. I literally can’t fathom doing it. The anxiety of all the things that could go wrong overwhelms me, and I’m not brave enough to try anyway.

It may seem dramatic, but it’s unfortunately true. I can’t even always think of a specific reason, I just have this dread and it makes it impossible to follow through. Maybe because 99 percent of the time I endure pain and discomfort. Maybe the idea of running around nonstop for 10 hours with a searing pain in my side/abdomen just makes me feel sick to my stomach, if I don’t feel that way already. Or, maybe I’m tired of having to tell people why all of a sudden I’m quiet and reserved, or can’t stand up anymore. Because telling them for the millionth time “my stomach hurts” or “I have a headache” or “I feel like I’m going to pass out” starts to feel like excuses do to less work or stay home. I don’t want to be “that person” who always cancels, always calls out, always leaves early.

Honestly this is hard for me to write. It’s difficult to explain why one day I’m out and about, enjoying myself, working hard and enjoying it, and the next I’m quiet and slow and much less passionate. I fear seeming like a hypochondriac. I’m so scared of what’s going on in someone else’s head. “She worked all day, ate a full lunch and laughed her whole shift yesterday, but today she’s too sick to get out of bed and can’t eat? She’s probably faking it, she’ll be back tomorrow like nothing was ever wrong.”

People don’t see what’s under my laughter, or my work ethic, or the fact that I don’t seem ill at all. They don’t see the exhaustion trying to drag me down, the stomach pain making it so difficult to eat, the body pain that makes me need to lean on the counter or sit on the stool every chance I get. What about when my pain is so bad that I run to the bathroom and cry for a few minutes, and then pull myself together and go back to work like nothing’s wrong?

I have good days too. Where I have a good time working, helping patients and customers, talking to them. And on those days I get a glimpse of what a normal person’s everyday life might look like, aside from the fact everyone’s got bad days too but they don’t outweigh the good ones. Even on my good days, my pain’s bearable, or my stomach only aches a little bit. I’m not quite as exhausted as normal.

I’m not throwing myself a pity party. (Although let’s be honest, everyone does every once in a while, right?) I’m just being brutally honest as to how I usually feel. Even now as I write, my stomach aches. I can’t eat much, I get pain and food goes right through me (sorry for TMI), but my stomach’s aching because it’s empty. Which situation do I put myself in? Both are pretty unfortunate.

If you can relate to me, if you experience this a lot, remember you’re not alone. I know you’re not “that person.” I know you’re not lying, faking, overdramatizing. You can share your experiences, anxieties or story with me, and I’ll understand. I find it encouraging to communicate with others about the struggles we share, and I hope you’d feel the same way.

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