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The Worst Side Effect of Fibromyalgia I Experience

Fibromyalgia is a multi-faceted disease that affects each person differently. One person’s list of symptoms can be vastly different to the next, but the emotional side effects, in my experience, are relatable to all that have a chronic illness. You push through the daily pain, fatigue, nausea and the onslaught of other symptoms, only to find yourself caught off guard by the emotional impact a disease can have on you. Personally, I believe the worst side effect is guilt.

Do you know how hard it is to send “that” message to a friend? You know the one where you have to cancel your plans again, letting them know you’re too sick or in too much pain?

“I know I canceled our plans last week and now I have to cancel again. I’m sorry.”

“Hey, I’m really sorry, but I’m not going to be able to make it. I’m having a flare-up.”

“I’m so sorry, but I’m not going to be able to come tonight, my pain levels are too high.”

Here’s the thing about fibromyalgia: I have very little control over my body. Every day is a new adventure, sometimes a terrible one, but an adventure nonetheless. I wake up and complete a mini self-assessment. What hurts the most? Do I feel like I’m going to be sick already? Can I get out of bed? I never know how I’m going to feel or what the day will bring, and then when I think I know how the day will go… bam! A migraine, vomiting, dizziness, pain. It can change so quickly. So, when I send that message saying I can’t make it, I have no other choice. Please understand that I already feel guilty for having to cancel another plan due to my health. I would love to be able to go out and spend time with you; instead, I’m dealing with high pain levels, nausea, fatigue and migraines. All of which I have no control over.

The next time you receive a message from a friend with a chronic illness, please believe them. They’re not a bad friend. They’re not unreliable. They’re not avoiding you. They would much rather be out, enjoying their lives, but instead, they’re stuck at home, and their guilt is likely to be wreaking havoc on their body. So, all they need from you is your understanding and support. I know it can be frustrating but take a minute to consider how they’re feeling and remember they’re doing the best that they can.


Fibromyalgia, a chronic illness with three main symptoms — widespread pain, chronic fatigue and cognitive trouble. Fibromyalgia is a complicated illness that’s not well understood. In the past, it was mischaracterized as a mental health disorder. Even today, some doctors wave off fibro symptoms as being “all in your head.” This isn’t the case. Read The Mighty’s comprehensive guide to fibromyalgia here. Click here to join our fibro community and connect with people who get it.

Getty Image by bignoze