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The Worst Part of My Illness Is Feeling Like a Burden on My Husband

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I have plenty of low days with fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. Days when I wish I could just lie in bed and sleep off the pain. Days when I dread the things I used to find most enjoyable – day trips with my family, spending time outdoors, a rewarding day at work. Days when my short-term memory turns to mush and I find myself weary and overwhelmed trying to focus on the simplest of tasks.

My life has turned completely upside down in the two years since I started having significant symptoms of fibromyalgia. 14 months ago I received my diagnosis and sadly the normalcy of my former self has continued to slip farther away from my grasp.

Having said all that, I feel at my lowest when I realize what all this has meant for my husband.


I hate that I feel like a burden. I don’t feel like an equal partner anymore. In my eyes, I take, take, take from him and it makes me sad to see it. It doesn’t matter what I say or do. I feel like things will never be the same for him.

I’ve also told him several times I won’t blame him if he wants to walk away. I can’t possibly hold it against him if he decides he can’t stay in our marriage now that debilitating pain, exhaustion, brain fog and insomnia have invaded our lives. But again, even in this conversation, I’m the lucky one and he continues to give unselfishly.

He says I’m not a burden. He assures me he signed up for “in sickness and in health” and he’s here for the long haul because he loves me. He swears we’ll get through this together and that he loves me more than the day we married – regardless of how much I hurt or how little I can contribute around the house.

These conversations always end the same way. I smile, I cry. Sadly these are tears of guilt and appreciation and adoration and shame all at once. He holds me. He never judges, never questions, just provides support, love and encouragement.

I just can’t help but feel sad for what fibromyalgia and Ehlers-Danlos means for him. I know what it means for me and some days I even feel so brave as to think I can handle it. I just wish he didn’t have to.

How has your condition impacted your loved ones? How do you cope with the loss of “normalcy” and the burden that an incurable diagnosis or condition brings with it?

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Thinkstock photo via weerachonoat.

Originally published: June 6, 2017
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