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When People Doubt Your Abilities Because You Have Fibromyalgia

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Until recently, nobody has ever tried to stop me from participating in an activity due to fibromyalgia. I can understand why anyone would be concerned. Fibromyalgia is unpredictable; however, I know what I am capable of.

Everyone reacts differently when they find out I have fibromyalgia. There are no visual signs that there is anything wrong with me, so sometimes people will be surprised. When people question my fibromyalgia, they do so because it is invisible. That’s the sort of reaction I expect sometimes, understandably. On the other hand, there are people who will accept it almost instantly and respond empathetically, even though they will never be able to fully relate themselves. Or sometimes, there are people who seem to brush it off, as though it makes no difference at all.

I only mention my fibromyalgia if I think it’s necessary. Most of the time, it’s because someone has asked me why I seem to be in pain, or why I have so many health problems. I always answer these questions with honesty, because I think it’s important to raise awareness. However, I don’t tell everyone I have fibromyalgia. I might mention I’m in pain, but I won’t go into detail unless I think it’s necessary.

Sometimes my honesty can be mistaken for complaining. When I’m honest about how I’m feeling, it’s usually because I want the people around me to understand why I might not seem as energetic as usual. Honesty and complaining are not the same thing. Complaining involves expressing dissatisfaction, or grievance with something. When I say, “I have a headache,” it’s not a complaint. On the contrary, it’s just a fact. Sometimes it’s necessary to mention these things. Obviously pain can be associated with negativity, however, it’s not negativity when it’s simply true. I’ve accepted pain as a part of my life, because it’s going to be there whether I like it or not.

There are many people like me who feel like they are too sick to be healthy, but too healthy to be sick. I still have physical capabilities. I’m still able to complete daily tasks, despite the pain. I have good days and bad days like anyone else… but I’m still able to function. Since I’ve come to accept my diagnosis, I’ve found it easier to cope with the pain. The pain is still there, no doubt, in fact probably more than it used to be. I have just become stronger and wiser for it.

It was quite an unpredictable turn of events, really. Usually I get to decide whether or not I will participate in an activity, as I am my own best advocate. I wasn’t prepared for anyone to doubt my abilities. It almost makes me feel like I can’t be honest with other people about my fibromyalgia. I have never given anyone a reason to be concerned for my safety at work. I have many management techniques to cope with the pain.

I have a demanding job to do. It was a lot to take on, I’ll admit, but I knew what I was getting myself into. Sometimes there is physical work involved. I knew what I signed up for. As a matter of fact, I’ve been doing really well so far. There is still a lot more work to do. There are many more experiences I still want to have. I may not be the healthiest person for the job, but it’s my job. I know what I’m capable of. I know I can handle it.

Fibromyalgia affects every aspect of my life, but I know I can do this. I made a choice to do this job, and that’s exactly what I plan on doing. Pain is a part of my daily life, regardless of what I do. It’s important to me to participate in activities while I’m still able to. I get to decide whether or not I am capable of doing anything.

Originally published: October 21, 2018
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