Late the other night, I was awake and in pain and perusing ye olde Facebook in an attempt to find entertainment and, perhaps, something that would miraculously lull me to bed. Instead, I stumbled across something that both angered and hurt me. Here’s how it all went down:
I noticed that someone had posted something on the fibromyalgia support page. She was asking if anyone was familiar with the side effects of certain medications often prescribed to FM. It just so happened that I had tried all three of the prescriptions she mentioned, and went ahead and shared what I knew about Cymbalta, Lyrica and Savella. And then I saw it.
Amidst the many comments and questions was a woman who said that medications don’t work for things like fibromyalgia, and that really, all that the original poster needed to do was “breathe deep and will the pain away.”
Normally, I would have just dismissed the ignorant comment. But I was feeling particularly defeated, and something about her statement really hit me in the gut.
Here’s the thing, guys. When people make statements akin to “all you have to do is set your mind to it…” it implies that a person’s symptoms are all in their head. Or that they’re exaggerating. Or that they can simply will away their pain. Which would be awesome. I mean, if I could take a deep breath and suddenly not be in agony every time I move, I’d be all over it.
But I can’t.
Telling someone with a chronic condition to stop taking their medication and just will themselves better is not only insensitive, it’s downright dangerous. I’ve had people tell me I just need to get out more, or that a good night’s sleep is all it would take to make me right as rain. I’ve had people tell me that everyone feels achy sometimes and to stop being so dramatic about it all.
And every one of those statements is another tiny chip at my well built-up armor.
So here’s the thing, everyone. Before you assume that someone’s condition is all in their head, or that they are faking the extent of their symptoms, simply take a quick peek online. A little research, a peek at an online forum, even a gander at some Tweets will probably be all it takes to give you a better idea of what it’s like to live with something you are unfamiliar with.
You’d be surprised at how much it means to someone when you take a few minutes to try and see what they’re going through…