A United Front: Finding the Right Support System for Fibromyalgia
Everyone needs a circle of supportive family members and friends. In fact, maintaining healthy relationships contributes to an overall sense of well-being. When a chronic illness, specifically fibromyalgia, is part of the equation, an encouraging group is absolutely vital. At the same time, boundaries for discussions and even disagreements have to be set.
This is definitely easier said than done. At some point, people with fibromyalgia face challenges when dealing with their peers. People who are not educated about fibromyalgia might think that the condition is exaggerated in order to get out of completing tasks or attending social engagements. We know this is not the case.
Proceed with Caution
Joining a support group (either online or in-person) can be helpful when conducted in a productive and compassionate environment. Other fibromyalgia sufferers can empathize and even offer valuable insight and advice, but there are times when even fellow comrades need to be reminded about the Golden Rule and how to carry themselves in an actual meeting or on an online forum.
There may be situations when pain and fatigue can bring out the ugly in the best of people. However, everyone still has to curb the tongue (or the keyboard) and not take out their frustration on other folks who are in a similar situation. This behavior is only counterproductive for all who are involved.
The “Trolling” to watch out for
As one blogger, Carrie Anton, noted, “lately, it seems as if animosity and divisiveness” are becoming more prevalent in the comments that follow an article. Ironically, these harsh remarks are coming from fellow fibro patients. Again, this situation does not reinforce the purpose, which is to lend support for those who already deal with the obstacles posed by the chronic condition.
For instance, one of the comments that have appeared on the site Fibromyalgia News Today call into question whether or not a participant actually has the illness since this person mentions physical activity, such as exercising and hiking. Some respondents claim that this person cannot actually have fibromyalgia and still be able to remain active—it just doesn’t seem possible. Such statements do not take into account the varying levels of pain, tolerance, or energy, much less the differences in effects of medications, treatment plans, and of course, other underlying factors. Basically, the illness affects people differently.
Also, the mentioning of loneliness or not having a supportive group of friends or family can be met with suggestions for that person to “look within” himself or herself as if that individual has been the direct cause of his or her own plight. Again, a participant who responds in such a manner needs to remember that everyone’s situation is different. What if this fibro patient just barely moved to a different location or lives in a rural, less populous area?
Additionally, there are also responses asking the person who is venting to quit “whining” or “to get a life.” Everyone, for whatever reason or another, needs to let off some steam before moving on. Sometimes, the release of frustration is what helps a person to ponder the current dilemma more clearly. When coping with a chronic illness, you typically need that outlet because keeping emotions bottled up is not healthy to begin with.