1. People with chronic pain learn to hide their pain well. You are probably thinking – pain is not visible. Pain itself isn’t visible, but when my pain levels are so intense – it makes me drop e to the floor and all I can do is cry. That is visible! Just because I have a smile on my face, doesn’t mean I don’t have pain. I have pain everyday – the only thing that changes is the intensity levels of the pain. The pain does not go away.
2. I stay at home on my worst days. No one ever sees my worst days. I only tend to leave the house when I feel not too bad. Even doctors hardly ever see my bad days, yet alone friends. Since you only see me on my good days, you may think fibromyalgia isn’t as bad as it seems. If you take a few moments to speak to the people I live with – who witness my bad days head on, you may actually take a step back and realize how painful and life altering fibromyalgia can be.
3. I often pretend the pain I have isn’t there. I may have pain in my knees, but try to walk and carry myself as if the pain isn’t there. When you see me at the store and stop to talk, you won’t know I’m having that extreme knee pain nor will you find I mention pain at all. Unless others experience chronic pain themselves, they will never understand what it feels like. It is not your everyday pain – it is worse.
4. I use a lot of medications to drown out the pain so I can half function when I leave the house. I don’t mean just take a Tylenol. Tylenol doesn’t ease my levels of pain like it may ease your backpain. You should see the endless bottles of prescription medications I take daily. You may understand after seeing my “pharmacy” in the kitchen cupboard how I am able to half function. If I do not take these medications I can’t even get out of bed, yet alone function to leave the house.
5. I force myself to be okay when I am actually not. I may tell you I’m ok, but inside my body wants to just shut down and collapse to the ground. When you see me, I may want to actually lay down like a 2 year old kicking and screaming in a temper tantrum, from the frustration that goes along with any chronic illness – but instead I force a fake smile upon my face.
6. I often isolate myself from having to socialize with others. It is easier to stay home then explain to people why I do not work or why I have to leave a get together suddenly because I need to rest. I don’t like to explain to people why I don’t work and why I am not having an alcoholic beverage! To be honest socializing can become absolutely exhausting for people who deal with chronic pain 24/7.
7. I hide the emotional aspect of fibromyalgia, I used to be embarrassed about the mental toll fibromyalgia has had on me. Chronic illnesses can create anxiety, depression and panic attacks to form. I bet when you talk to me you would never know I actually have an extreme anxiety disorder. It is being managed, but circumstances and pain levels can trigger an anxiety attack to take place.
8. I usually give a short answer when Asked how Am I doing. It is too hard to actually explain how I am doing. I often say I am doing okay when I am not to avoid being told, ” I hope you feel better soon!” I have a chronic pain condition with no cure. Chronic means it will most likely not go away.
9. I tend to hide my pain behind humor. I may be in pain, but I still can joke. Might as well joke instead of cry.
10. When you see me you may think I dress the way I do to be comfortable. The truth is the baggy sweaters and sweat pants hide my bloated stomach. Many people with fibromyalgia also suffer from stomach issues. I am one of those “lucky” people.
11. People often ask why I don’t feel well. If I know they won’t be able to fully understand what fibromyalgia is I often say I must have a flu bug or a migraine. It is just easier then having to explain to people what fibromyalgia is and how it affects me.
12. I often forget what I am saying and lose my train of thought. It is part of fibro fog, but I often joke it must be “old age ” setting in, instead of explaining why my cognitive functioning is affected by fibromyalgia.