Healthy Living

How to Deal with Family and Friends Who Don't Understand Fibromyalgia

Who Don't Understand Fibromyalgia: Use comparisons

Use comparisons

Think back to your high school Language Arts class when you went over similes and metaphors. We learned that authors use them because it helps to convey the precise point, or sight, or feeling to an audience that would otherwise be hard to do. When Humber Humbert in Nabokov’s Lolita writes “Elderly American ladies leaning on their canes listed towards me like towers of Pisa,” because that image, that feeling is very different than the one you would get if he wrote “Elderly American ladies leaned on their canes listed towards me.”

Similarly, saying that you are in pain or that you have fibromyalgia is not going to be specific enough for some people. You need to think like an author, and use a comparison to get your point across. (And you thought you would never use 10th grade English class again!) You can tell people that it feels a bit like having the flu every single day, including feeling fatigued, achy, and foggy.

For the less empathetic of your family members, maybe an electrician’s example will work. Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, MD, who is the medical director of the Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, Inc., suggests to explain to family members that with fibromyalgia, “you’ve gotten to the point where you’ve blown a fuse.” In other words, there is a shortage. You use more energy than your body is able to make.