Fibromyalgia is a disorder which causes widespread pain and heightens response to pressure in many different areas of the body. Those who suffer from this disease can experience sleep disturbance, joint stiffness and extreme fatigue. The disorder is related to abnormalities in how pain signals are processed within the central nervous system.
If you have a friend or a family member who is suffering from fibromyalgia, you can be a wonderful source of support in their life when they are going through this painful disorder. For someone with fibromyalgia, it can be difficult sometimes just getting through the day. Many people who have this disorder appreciate the support and help of their friends and family, especially when dealing with fatigue, chronic pain, sleep deprivation and much more. The things that you do for them really mean a lot and can make a big difference in their life.
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How can you be supportive and kind to your loved one with this disorder? Here are some tips on how you can help someone you care about who has fibromyalgia:
- Offer to help them out with their grocery shopping or pick up some basics for them when you are at the store.
- Help them around the house in little ways, such as doing the dishes for them. Small tasks such as this can cause fibromyalgia sufferers a lot of pain.
- Make them dinner and clean up the kitchen afterward, they will appreciate it immensely.
- If they have children, offer to babysit or take their kids out for the day – so that they can have a rest and a much needed break.
- When you visit them, smile and be positive. Make them laugh to take their mind off the pain.
- Ask them how they are feeling and really take the time to listen to what they say. The support of a caring friend who listens can really mean a lot.
- Sometimes fibromyalgia sufferers can be hurt by the attitudes of friends and family who say that they are not really sick and they are “making excuses”. It will mean a lot if you can simply say “I understand,” and listen to what your friend has to say.
- Avoid trying to “one-up” your loved one with stories about your own health. You don’t need to compare health – unless it is relevant to the conversation.
- Don’t take it personally or guilt trip your friend or family member if they have to cancel a lunch date or other social engagement with you at the last minute. They are likely experiencing a flare-up of pain and it has nothing to do with whether they like to spend time with you. Show empathy and understanding and reschedule.
- Bring a funny movie or a DVD of your favourite stand-up comedian. Laughter really can be the best medicine.
- Don’t try to tell your loved one what they should do or how they should feel. They are the ones living in their body and experiencing their symptoms, so show them respect and listen to what they have to say.
- Do a little bit of research into fibromyalgia as well as pain management and injury relief so you can learn about what the disorder is and how it works. This will give you a better understanding of what your loved one is going through.
- Be patient with your friend or family member and don’t get annoyed with them based on the limitations of their illness.
- Don’t assume that just because your friend isn’t talking about being in pain, that they aren’t feeling it at the moment. Many fibromyalgia sufferers are in chronic pain, but they choose not to talk about it.
- Avoid bringing them sugary snacks as gifts, as these can lead to flare ups in pain. Also sugar will elevate insulin levels which will lead to blood sugar plummets later on, which will have a negative effect on mood.
- Be careful when being physical with your loved one, such as giving hugs or play wrestling. Their joints are very sensitive and you could cause them added unnecessary pain.
These are just a few of the ways that you can help to support your friend or family member with fibromyalgia. Your thoughtful gestures will be truly appreciated and will make a big difference in their world.
About the author:
Marty Parkins is a freelance writer and blogger. His mother has Fibromyalgia and he likes to cook her a meal on the weekends when he visits.