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21 Comebacks to Use If Someone Says Fibromyalgia Isn't a 'Serious' Illness

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Fibromyalgia is a chronic and incurable condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, chronic fatigue, brain fog and sleep disturbances that is estimated to affect between three and six percent of the global population. However, since fibromyalgia was formally recognized only a few decades ago, many people (including doctors) are still unfamiliar with the illness and the reality of how it can affect someone’s life.

These misunderstandings can unfortunately give way to some harmful misconceptions about the condition. Many people still believe fibromyalgia isn’t a “real” or “serious” illness – though this couldn’t be further from the truth. All the pain, symptoms and side effects a fibro warrior experiences are 100 percent real and valid.

It’s important, however, to keep in mind that the condition affects everyone differently – even though people experience similar symptoms. The effects of fibromyalgia may be more severe for some than others, or manifest in more visible ways. But there’s never a good reason to compare symptoms – whether others have fibro or a different illness entirely. All conditions and experiences are valid, and everyone deserves respect and understanding.

But in those situations when someone does question the validity of fibromyalgia, it can be tricky to know how to respond. In some cases, the comment may provide an opportunity to educate the person about the realities of fibromyalgia. Other times, you may not feel comfortable going into detail – maybe you don’t know the person that well, or are just dealing with too many symptoms to feel up to launching into an explanation – and that’s OK, too.

However you decide to respond, it may be helpful to have a few lines prepared ahead of time so you’re not caught off-guard. We asked our Mighty community to share their favorite responses or “comebacks” to people saying that fibromyalgia isn’t a “real” or “serious” illness that can help correct, inform or “shut down” any judgment. Let us know how you respond to this statement in the comments below.

Here’s what our community shared with us:

  1. “‘I did not realize you had a medical degree.’” – Lakshmi R.
  2. I say, ‘All people live in their own dream, in their own minds, and you are in a completely different world from the one I live in and that’s OK. You don’t understand but I do.’” – Tiffany T.
  3. “‘Are you my doctor?’” – Kirst F.
  4. Tie some weights to your appendages, contract the flu, go about your daily life for three days, then come back and say that again.” – Melissa M.
  5. “‘Thank you, Dr. (fill in the name). I appreciate you sharing your expertise.’” – Sarah N.
  6. “‘I didn’t realize you had the ability to feel the pain of others, but thanks for the assumption!’” – Lola L.
  7. “‘My body and doctor say differently.’” – Meena N.
  8. “‘OK. Let’s swap. I’ll gladly take your working normal pain-free body and then we’ll see how long it takes you to change your opinion.’” – Michelle U.
  9. I just don’t even need to justify my life to others who have no idea what I battle daily. I’d just stay silent and walk away.” – Allison M.
  10. “‘Live with fibromyalgia for a week, you might reconsider.’” – Jill C.
  11. “‘How do you define serious? Wouldn’t you think others define ‘serious’ differently too? If so, then why does one person’s opinion of how you define a serious illness affect what actually is a serious illness?’ (Let them know if they’d like some neat articles and to research this more there are many websites and stuff too!) I don’t like attacking people because if I don’t like them doing it to me, I wouldn’t want to do it to them. I don’t have fibromyalgia myself, but I have friends that do.” – Tyler N.J.
  12. “‘My brain totes agrees with you – this can’t be my real life, but my body hasn’t listened once.’” – Melissa C.
  13. “‘It’s seriously underestimated.’” – Carrie B.
  14. My orthopedic consultant told me it wasn’t a real illness. ‘Perhaps,’ I said, ‘but seeing as there are thousands of people across the world currently sharing the same symptoms, isn’t it great we can at least give it a name, so that [when] we meet with consultants like yourself, you have some idea of what’s going on [with] us symptomatically?’ He physically stepped back when I said this.” – Alexia M.
  15. “‘You obviously don’t have it then.’” – Tessierrose N.
  16. My former cardiologist said fibro is a ‘bullshit diagnosis.’ When I told my rheumatologist, he said, ‘He should stick to the heart.’” – Tracy B.S.
  17. I tell people it’s like being one giant bruise all the time with electrical pain and skin so sensitive you feel like you have a burn all the time, and that is just some of what I live with.” – Olivia P.
  18. I ignore them actually. There are days I barely have the energy to put my socks on so I’m not wasting valuable energy on a person’s opinion that has no value to me.” – Mackenzie P.
  19. “‘No, it’s hilarious, hilariously awful and all-consuming. Here’s the list of the 200+ symptoms and codependent conditions and all the type of specialists I have to see for this ‘not so serious’ condition. Next time educate yourself with facts before running your mouth when it concerns me, please.’” – Megan S.
  20. “‘Tell that to my five specialists who have confirmed it.’” – Lani W.
  21. “‘Get the flu, then light your skin on fire. Then you end up with migraines so bad it feels like your head is in a vice. Add digestive issues to the mix and everything your skin touches hurts like you are peeling it off. Deal with all of that on a daily basis and then tell me it’s not real.’” – Gelcys C.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Originally published: May 8, 2018
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