Why It's Important to Talk With Others Who Understand Fibro
A while ago my husband asked me if I’d go into his workplace to do something for fibromyalgia awareness. I nervously said yes and began collecting information (leaflets, badges, etc.) and mentally preparing to head into a place I used to work. Until my fibromyalgia worsened about nine years ago and I was left feeling defeated. I was a little apprehensive about how I would feel going back there, as well as being nervous about talking to people about fibromyalgia. Writing the articles that I have for The Mighty has helped me to become more at ease about discussing things openly and without fear of judgment from others, so that was a big help when I finally arrived and set up my little table. I used to feel like other people would assume I was a hypochondriac or that I was looking for sympathy, so I had a tendency to play it down a lot. These days, I realize how important it is to educate people, so that others can get the understanding that was often lacking back when I was diagnosed 10 years ago.
After my two hours were over and I was packing up to go home, I was reflecting on the time I’d spent and thinking about those I’d talked with. There were actually more than a few people who had fibro themselves, as well as some who have relatives/friends who live with it. The one who made the biggest impression was a lady who had come in on her day off to talk to me because she was diagnosed just last week. We compared symptoms and talked about how we felt about all of it. Naturally, this lady was still processing and it was, at times, emotional for both of us.
I remember what it was like trying to make sense of it at the beginning, and how much it meant to speak with someone who gets it. How much it still means. Because no matter how understanding our loved ones are, no one can truly appreciate what we go through if they haven’t experienced it themselves. That’s true for most things in life, I think, but especially for anyone with chronic illness. No matter how long since your diagnosis, there will inevitably be times that you feel misunderstood and lonely. However, through talking with others in the same/similar positions, these feelings can lessen.
Overall, I think what I’m trying to say is that the overwhelming feeling I have now is one of gratitude and peace because of everyone who shared their experiences with me, asked questions because they wanted to understand, and who understood because they live with it. Because that’s what everyone wants in life, whether we realize it or not. We want to be seen, heard and understood. For all of the people who allowed me to be those things this afternoon – thank you. For all of you reading this because you look for those things too – I get it. I understand, and you are not alone.
Getty Image by Neda Krstic