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Finding the Silver Lining in Fibromyalgia's Playbook

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It is no secret that fibromyalgia patients have quite the dysfunctional relationship with short term memory. It is quite often like watching a Thursday night sitcom when we speak, and that’s only our first sentence of the conversation!

While there are plenty of other symptoms that plague patients like me, the one thing that I find personally challenging is finding a way to take the very real burden of feelings of embarrassment or guilt and not allowing them to control my life. Sure, it can be embarrassing when you forget the plot of the movie you saw last night that you couldn’t stop raving about. It isn’t always the most fun during a public speaking engagement to quote Foghorn Leghorn instead of Maya Angelou.

Something I had to come to realize was that even though these types of incidents really stunk, there was another side to them. With all the seriousness that is involved in living with a chronic illness, maybe there is somewhat of a silver lining. One of the parts of a sitcom that make it relatable is the presence of comic relief. The main character suffers a serious loss and the tenant across the hall pops up with his crazy hairdo and lets “the cat right out of the bag!” Suddenly the mood shifts and the entire situation becomes less detrimental overall.

For me I’ve come to see some of the faux pax that occur with the wonderful world of fibro fog as often humorous events. After all, each one of us is human and we all make these mistakes or mix ups whether we have an illness or not. The illness itself likes to sort of step in and demand we feel certain ways, but if we retake control and say, “You know what, that’s pretty funny” and realize the lightheartedness of the situation, we can move on from the incident and clear some of the fog with a laugh.

In my life, some of the most influential people are various comedians. I like to laugh. I firmly believe that while there’s a time to be serious, there’s also a time to laugh. And if we look close enough in the midst of the times to be serious, there’s even more reason to laugh. Many of the things we take so seriously in life, including the illness that has very real and serious sides to it, take more of a prominent place that we would often like because we give them power over us. It seems that sometimes we forget we are not the illness. Laughing at the illness in all of its dysfunction and mental hilarity allows us to take a step back and realize that even though we face so much every day with pain and other fog-related incidents, isn’t it nice that the illness, through all the changes it has demanded we make and all its effects on our daily living, at least allows us moments to get a little laugh in. Sometimes in the midst of the worst of days, a little laughter can go a long way.

Don’t believe me? I know a few Golden Girls who do. Every trial and tribulation was solved around a cheesecake, a true family of their very own, and each person’s ability to see the funny in all the moments they shared together. Wouldn’t life be that much better if we could all admit that we aren’t just like one of these girls, but that we embody a little bit of each of them? The fog rolls in and we face trials and we’re Dorothy for a moment. The fog gets thicker and we’re Rose stuck in a St. Olaf story. A little later we laugh so hard we pee… then we laugh at that and we’re Sophia. Before you know it we’re obsessing over our looks and what the illness limits us in that we want so much to do, and we’re Blanche dreaming in the mirror that we’ll fit into our clothes we bought eons ago.

If we could take a moment every day and allow ourselves to make positive change in our lives by simply seeing the funny in all of our situations and allowing ourselves to laugh at the ridiculousness or whatever it may be, I think we would all be much better off, as we refuse to be defined by an illness and remain our own true selves. That is where the funny truly lies.

Picture it! Sicily, 2016…

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Lead photo by Thinkstock Images

Originally published: December 19, 2016
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