Helping Friends and Family Understand Fibromyalgia
When you have a chronic illness, you are grateful for the support and help you receive from your family and friends. However, over the long-term, family and friends may suffer burn-out after giving so much of themselves. They may feel angry, overwhelmed, depressed or experience guilt after watching you endure this terrible affliction for many years.
Fibromyalgia sufferers need to be aware how their illness is affecting their family and friends. It is important to keep the lines of communication open between you and your loved ones. Oftentimes, conflicts or difficulties erupt because people are not communicating clearly to one another. By being open and honest, those near to you can better understand how you are feeling while you can be sympathetic towards them.
How to Communicate with Fibromyalgia
If you suffer from fibromyalgia, here are some relationship tips you can follow:
- Be considerate of your partner’s feeling. Ask your partner how they are doing on a daily basis and set aside time to talk about their health and well-being.
- Plan some fun time. Write down a list of fun activities that you and a family member can enjoy together. This is a chance to reconnect with a loved one and let them know how much they mean to you.
- Be a good listener. One of the most important things you can do to strengthen any relationship is to listen well and be perceptive.
- Allow your partner to have her own leisure time. If you and your partner used to enjoy a sports activity together but you can no longer participate because of fibromyalgia, allow your partner to get out and partake in the activity.
- Maintain a positive attitude. A positive attitude will reflect well on you and make your partner feel better about herself.
- Keep a journal. If you suffer from fibromyalgia, keep track of your moods in a journal, note your symptoms and if any specific incident led to your mood change. This way you can become aware of how your moods change and what you are feeling about them.
- Consider joining a fibromyalgia support group. By joining such a group, you can share your frustration with the syndrome and also share future hopes and goals.
- Rethink your sleeping arrangements. If you and your partner are on different sleep schedules, you may want to consider getting separate beds. Lack of sleep is debilitating for every person especially for those suffering from fibromyalgia.
- Sign up for a class. Join a yoga or meditation class with a family member or close friend. It would be a great way to relax, relieve pain and bond at the same time.
- Explain your symptoms to your loved ones. Fibromyalgia patients often have memory loss. Explain to your loved ones that you care about what they tell you but that you have trouble remembering details.
Helping Those with Fibromyalgia
Here is some advice to keep in mind when someone close to you has fibromyalgia:
- Become educated about fibromyalgia. If someone in your family suffers from fibromyalgia you may think you know everything there is to know about it, but there may be more information out there than you think.
- Lend a helping hand. If you want to be helpful to someone with fibromyalgia, just ask what you can do.
- Be flexible with invitations and plans that you have made. Understand that sometimes the pain of fibromyalgia is overwhelming for your loved one.
- Be active. Accompany your loved one to a doctor’s appointment and take an active interest in their treatment. You can take notes at the doctor’s office and then review your notes together at home.
- Don't take things personally. Some people with fibromyalgia suffer from sudden mood changes. Try not to take these mood swings personally as they are part of the syndrome.
- Journaling. If you have a child with fibromyalgia, encourage them to keep a symptom and mood journal as well. This will give them an outlet when they are feeling frustrated and angry about the illness.