How to talk to people about your fibromyalgia

By: Holly Case

Living with any type of chronic illness is not only difficult to experience, it’s also difficult to discuss with others. Showing weakness of any sort is not always acceptable in American society, and telling the wrong person about your illness could change how they treat you. Here are some thoughts to consider about when and how you should talk to people about your fibromyalgia.

Need-to-Know Basis

Telling people that you have fibromyalgia is often better when done on a need-to-know basis. People you live with, such as your significant other or your children, are more likely to see your symptoms for themselves and to be affected by them. Obviously, the healthcare providers who treat you should also be considered among the group that needs to know, particularly if your health affects how they may treat you. For example, your family physician, specialists such as rheumatologists, and even therapists should know about your fibromyalgia because your health conditions may be relevant to how they care for you. However, it may not be as necessary to tell your dentist, since teeth are not often affected by fibromyalgia.

Should You Tell your Boss?

If you are still working, the decision about whether or not to tell your boss about fibromyalgia can be difficult. It is hard to work during a fibro flare and not have it affect your performance, so it may help your boss to know that you have medical reasons affecting your job function. Telling your boss may also be necessary, along with your doctors, if you intend to leave your job and collect disability payments. To collect disability, you would likely need additional documentation from your employer showing that you are not able to meet the normal demands of your job.

Bias against Fibromyalgia

Most fibromyalgia sufferers already know that some people have a negative bias against fibromyalgia as an illness and feel the same toward those who have it. Some people even disbelieve that fibromyalgia is a valid illness. For this reason, it is unfortunately a good idea to use caution in deciding whom you tell about your illness. You may not only fail to get sympathy from them but could lead them to think less of your abilities.

Just the Facts, Ma’am

The key to telling people about your fibromyalgia depends on knowing whom you can really trust with the details. Some people are close confidantes that you can trust with telling them if you’re having a bad day or are experiencing a lot of pain. Support groups, many of which are online, are also good places to go for sympathy and advice, especially because the other participants have first-hand experience with dealing with similar challenges.

It is unfortunate but true that you may want to limit the amount of details about your physical symptoms that you share with casual acquaintances, coworkers, and people that you don’t know well. Many people are caring and do want to know how you’re feeling, and it’s more than okay to tell them when you’re not doing well. However, you may want to save more details about your symptoms for sympathetic ears.

Via- Fibro Treating

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