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To the Therapist Who Told Me I Had 'Given Up' Because of My Fibromyalgia

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Thank you for taking the time to meet with me. Unfortunately, I don’t think we are a good match for a therapeutic relationship.

I debated the point of sending this letter. Would it do any good?? But by some miracle it makes you treat the next fibro patient you deal with a little kinder, it will be worth it.

I don’t claim to know everything about fibromyalgia, however after living with this disease for years, I feel I do know quite a bit more than most people – including many healthcare professionals who have not had the “joy” of this experience.

When I contacted you, my reasons for therapy was to

1. Get my motivation back.

2. To have someone who could be understanding of my daily struggles.

3. To help me come to terms with the me I am now – even if I had to pay for that support.

It was pretty clear early on this probably wasn’t going to work. One red flag, “I know people that have fibro…” Most conversations that start like this don’t end very well. “My cousin’s friend’s sister has fibro and she…” Everyone has a story like this. I’ve heard thousands.

First and foremost, fibro – even though there are millions of people living with the condition– is a very personal experience. My fibro is my own. My symptoms and stressors could be similar or vastly different from the person that you “know” – and did you know that fibro has a large variety of symptoms? I also have to wonder how well you “know” this person?

I hide my symptoms from my family, friends, and co-workers every day. When they ask how I’m doing, I say “fine,” “good” and “you know how it goes.” They don’t see me struggling to get out of bed or crying in the shower when it’s all too much. Do you know as much as you think you do?

The advice you gave me on diet, exercise and sleeping better – now where have I heard that before? Could it be from my general physician, the rheumatologist, neurologist, back specialist, cardiovascular specialist, physical therapists, and pain management doctors I’ve seen in the last few years? What they didn’t tell me was how to sleep when the pain was so great I couldn’t get comfortable, or how to exercise when the pain and fatigue was overwhelming.

What sealed the deal for me was when you told me I had given up! Given up?!?! Fibro has taken me from a vibrant, energetic, healthy person and turned me into a mess. The cold makes me hurt, the heat makes me hurt, taking a shower drains my energy. I forget more than most people ever knew and I lose words I learned in the first grade. And which pain is greater – emotional or physical – when my child hugs me and it hurts? Fibro has robbed me of so much. But have I given up? This disease beats you up inside and out, physically and mentally, day and night. But have I given up? Yes, I’m tired. Yes, I cry. Yes, I want to throw in the towel. But have I given up? Never! That is not an option.

If I had given up, I wouldn’t have taken the chance to meet with you. I did that for me. So no I have not given up. I may stumble and I may fall, but I will not give up. I hope the next time someone looks to you for help, you are a little more compassionate and understanding. You may think you know, but you truly have no idea. Fibro warriors fight for every inch of their lives, every day.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

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Getty image by  KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Originally published: February 13, 2018
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