Chances are you know someone with Fibromyalgia, or at least someone who has Fibro symptoms. It’s common for it to be diagnosed these days in a number of situations, which is the first step in finding a way to cope with the extreme ups and downs of the disease.
If your loved one is suffering, I know you probably want to make it better, right? This is especially true if this person is your spouse, your daughter, your best friend. Those that matter to us most having incapacitating pain is awful for everyone involved.
Since not everyone is familiar with chronic pain, you might be looking for some guidance on how to help someone with fibromyalgia. You’re in luck! As someone who suffers from the disease myself, I can definitely lend you a couple of tips. Keep in mind that everyone is different though so when in doubt, ask your person. They probably have some suggestions for you, even if they don’t volunteer them outright.
Learn About the Disease
The number one thing you can do for those of us who suffer from these chronic pain illnesses is to simply acknowledge and understand our issues. We can complain all we want, but unless you really look into how we’re suffering, it might be hard for you to understand what we need. So the first thing? Learn about it. It’s more than just ‘body pain’ or ‘bad memory’, unfortunately.
If you choose to learn about Fibro for no other reason, know that it’ll help you support us in the long run – we feel more comfortable talking to people who have even just a small idea of what we’re going through and trust that we aren’t making it up (oh yes, this is a thing). We need people who will just listen and not offer a bunch of solutions; sometimes we just need to be upset.
National Fibromyalgia Association
National Fibromyaglia and Chronic Pain Association
The Mayo Clinic
The American College of Rheumatology
The ever-dependable WebMD
and I’m always available to help, too
This is where I started my OWN journey on learning about what my body was going through, so I feel confident that some of these resources might help you help someone with fibromyalgia.
Be a Voice of Reason
We’re human, which means we feel like we should be doing human things. This doesn’t sound unreasonable, right? And while everyone gets some slack, people with chronic pain issues have to not only accept slack from others, but give themselves a LOT of grace.
Sometimes the pain gets so bad that getting up to shower is impossible.
Sometimes a ‘good day’ is just good enough to eat something and curl up on the couch for the rest of the time.
Sometimes on days where we suddenly feel normal, we overdo it. We push ourselves to get everything done that we didn’t get done the week before and we cause some issues when we do that, because nothing is free and that applies to energy, too.
And then we feel useless again because it hurts, or we can’t move, or everything sucks.
This is probably an issue a lot of people have, and just like everyone who has this kind of issue, we need someone to check us. We need someone that understands and can say we’re doing a great job and that everything is okay.
Be the voice of reason! Sometimes we can’t be for ourselves.
Help Someone with Fibromyaglia by Helping Yourself
And the number one thing I want you to remember today is that you can’t pour from an empty glass, friends! You have to be recharged, too. If you can’t stand up by yourself, how do you expect to help someone with Fibromyalgia? It’ll be impossible, or so hard that you’ll resent us.
And let me let you in on a little secret: we are also often resented. Having our best and most cherished friends resent us for something we can’t control will hurt more than the disease itself. Fibro causes severe emotional sensitivity and sometimes even depression and anxiety, which means we can be less than pleasant sometimes (just like everyone else!). We still need you.
So even if you have to take some time away, go to therapy, or join a Fibromyalgia support group, enabling yourself to help us as much as you can will do everyone good. I promise. The more of a friend you can be, the better.
Final Thoughts on Figuring Out How to Help Someone with Fibromyalgia
Fibro is just not something easy to tango with, and when you’re suddenly forced to contend with it, it can be incredibly stressful and difficult to figure out how to navigate the rough waters of chronic illness. However, with a little knowledge and a lot of patience from both sides, there can be calm seas ahead.