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How to Start a Conversation With Someone Who Doesn't Believe Your Fibromyalgia Pain Is Real

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As someone living with fibromyalgia, I have come across many people who have questioned whether my pain is real or imagined. Unfortunately, I have found that because there is still so much unknown about fibromyalgia, people tend to question its validity as a diagnosis and as an illness in general.

In these cases, it can be important that you take the time to try to describe how severe your pain is and how it impacts your life. I have found that comparing my pain to different things can be helpful in illustrating something that the other person can relate to. One thing that I often say is that my full body pain often feels like the pain you experience in your body when you have the flu. But what can be more important is first explaining to the other person how your pain is real, and that it is life-changing and can affect your daily life. We shouldn’t have to defend our pain, but sometimes it can be helpful to try to illustrate to others how our pain feels and how it affects our lives.

Other things that can be helpful are explaining factors that impact our pain, such as the cold, or temperature changes. Explaining the impacts of different factors on pain can help others to understand the severity of the pain in the first place, and how small factors play a part in our suffering. Unfortunately, we won’t always be able to get another person to believe or understand our pain and how severe it can be, but doing our best to define the pain can be helpful in feeling understood.

However, it is important that we try to understand that others may not always be willing to understand, or try to understand, but that shouldn’t make our pain any less valid. We are living with a debilitating and hard-to-treat condition that is still widely misunderstood. So many of us have to live with ways of managing our pain that we try to find through trial and error, and even then, many of us still end up having to live with our pain on a daily basis. Even describing this pain to others might help you to get others to understand how valid and severe fibromyalgia pain is, which can inspire understanding.

But what you should know is that whether you are able to get others to understand or at least acknowledge your pain doesn’t make it any less real. There are so many people living with fibromyalgia themselves who can help to validate your struggles while helping you to feel seen. We can help to spread awareness of what living with fibromyalgia is like by sharing our personal stories and hopefully gain awareness over time, but this is still slow going. Until more research can be conducted on fibromyalgia, we will have to share our own stories to gain awareness of what we are going through.

With that being said, if you feel that you need others to understand the pain you are going through, I would advise you to try to explain your pain to others through what the pain feels like to you. Comparing your pain to other things can help others to understand the level of your pain and have more awareness of what living with fibromyalgia can be like. My hope for you is just that you are able to find other ways to feel validated with your pain, and that you find support in places such as The Mighty by meeting with others who have fibromyalgia to help you feel validated and cared for. There is such a great community here to find support and understanding, and I hope that you can find a place for yourself in this community.

Getty image by Cecilie_Arcurs.

Originally published: June 28, 2022
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