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6 Things I Have Learned From the Emotional Toll of Fibromyalgia

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I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia after almost two decades of trying to navigate through unexplainable chronic pain and fatigue. Although there are a lot of lifestyle changes that will come with the territory, you will also experience a lot of emotional ones, too. Here are some of the things I have learned along the way.

1. You May Be Unfairly Judged and/or Discriminated Against

From doctors, your workplace, family and even closest of friends, you might find yourself being made to feel like you are a liar, seeking attention or not trying hard enough to be healthy. It’s hard for some people to understand or be empathetic about things they truly do not understand or have a realm of experience to draw from. People with invisible chronic illness have encountered an endless array of naysayers along the way. You are not alone.

2. You May Lose Relationships With Friends and Possibly Family Members

Regardless whether you choose to explain to people what you are going through or spare them the details, altogether your friends and family will likely continue to expect you to be present in their lives and their special events and occasions along the way. They may not understand the pushback you experience from forcing yourself to be present in their lives. They may not understand your lack of presence does not mean you love them less or simply do not care. They may not understand how difficult it is for you to face each new day in your life and how hard you fight to not lose hope.

3. Your Marriage and Family Relationship May Be Strained At Times

Having a spouse or parent living with a chronic illness may take its toll on your family. Your spouse could be forced to take on the weight of being both parents to your children and the responsibilities that may have at one time been divided up between spouses. It might be difficult for young children to understand why one parent can be active and present in their lives and the other parent is not.

4. You Must Learn to Stop Feeling Guilty

Your friends, family and co-workers may tell you that because you are no longer dependable and usually absent, you have caused unfair hardship to them and others. They may not understand or know what you go through each day, what is going on with your health or why you can no longer function normally anymore. As your health and life begin to unravel and you can no longer lead a normal lifestyle, be part of the workforce, attend church regularly or be present at special events and occasions, people may become insensitive and accusatory towards you before altogether distancing themselves from you. It can happen with even those closest to you and the best thing you can do for yourself is to stop feeling guilty for what you cannot control and continue to love them and cheer for them from a distance, even if they do not know you do.

5. You Must Love Yourself

The emotional toll that living with a chronic illness can have on you after the initial onset can be devastating to some. As my health deteriorated rapidly and seemed to spiral out of control, it became difficult for me to want to live. If you begin to question whether or not your life is worth living anymore or if things will be better if you simply don’t wake up anymore, you need to seek help immediately. Not only are you worthy of love, you are worthy of life and need to learn how to live the best life possible despite what you are going through.

6. You Are Not Alone

Even though isolation does come with the territory when you are dealing with a chronic illness, you are not the only person in this entire world who is going through what you are going through. You may think you are, but it simply isn’t true. There are other warriors out there – you just haven’t come across them yet.

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 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Image via Thinkstock.

Originally published: January 13, 2017
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