I am 36 and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia last year, but I’ve had the severe symptoms for about 3 years. My husband has been supportive, but my parents don’t believe I really have this illness and if I do I should just take the medicine they see on the commercials and get on with life.
I love them and want to still have some kind of relationship with them, but it is causing stress on my marriage too, because my husband can’t bear to see me hurt by them any more. -Sherry
I’m sorry you’re hurting. Sometimes it can be very difficult for others to understand or to accept the reality of a chronic illness. Often times, they don’t realize that the debilitating affects of an illness like Fibromyalgia vary from patient to patient and that, for many, it just isn‘t as easy as “pushing ourselves“ or “taking a pill” in order to maintain the life we once led. And, unfortunately, ads from pharmaceutical companies are aimed at selling a product and don’t adequately present the varied symptoms of such a complex disorder.
I recommend a couple of resources that may help your parents gain a better understanding of how your illness affects you. One article is titled, “What’s Going On? A Simple Explanation of Fibromyalgia- Making Sense of a Complex Disorder, For Those Who Don’t Have It”. It is one of the best I’ve found and really describes how FM affects the body in simple, easy to understand terms. I hope it helps.
Beyond that, it is important for you to do whatever is needed to reduce the stress your relationship with your parents is placing on both yourself and your marriage. I know it’s heart-breaking to consider limiting the amount of contact between you. And I, myself, understand how painful it can be not to have the support of those dearest to you, especially when facing an illness.
It can feel like a dagger through the heart sometimes. But, in order to improve and maintain your health as much as possible, it is crucial to address both your physical and emotional needs. Since we know that stress exacerbates the symptoms of FM, it’s important to limit stressful situations as much as possible and to maintain positive, supportive relationships in your life.
I’m so happy to hear that your husband is understanding and supportive! That is truly a blessing! And it may be that, one day, your parents will come to be supportive, as well. I would encourage you to share these articles with them. If you haven’t already done so, you might also try writing them a letter, expressing your feelings.
Explain to them what a typical day, living with your symptoms, is like for you. If you have done all you can do to try to help them understand, and they still fail to be supportive, then it may be necessary to distance yourself from them for a time. Focus on doing all you can to have a positive emotional outlook and this will help you immensely, both in managing your FM and in dealing with your parents.
Sherry, I encourage you to continue to pray for your parents’ understanding. And, at the same time, ask God to give you strength to change the things you can and peace to accept the things you can not. He can ease your hurt and help you learn to, once again, lead a joyful, productive life, even while managing the effects of your illness!
In Christian Love and Service,
Angela Dobbins is a Christian life coach in McKinney, TX. She lives daily with the effects of Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Complex, and various sensitivities. Angela’s passion is to share God’s love with others and to assist them toward becoming all He created them to be, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.