I was 31 when I was diagnosed with cervical spondylosis (which is a fancy way of saying arthritis in the neck) and fibromyalgia. Whenever I talked to anyone about it, the first thing they would say is, “but you’re so young,” or some variation thereof. I would be in excruciating pain, and, sure enough, someone would say, “You’re too young to be hurting like that”. Yet, here I am wanting to die. Thanks for the support.
The impact of fibromyalgia on daily life:
I have dealt with the pain, brain fog, and depression and fibromyalgia for more than a decade before I was diagnosed. I have lost friends, boyfriends, jobs because I was depressed and in massive amounts of pain. No one understood what was wrong with me, not even me. I was accused of faking it, being lazy, and just not caring. When I received the diagnosis, all of those accusations suddenly became, “but you’re so young,” or “You’re too young to be hurting like that,” or “Why you got to make stuff up?” That last one is a direct quote from a close family member. Apparently, she forgot that my mother was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at the age of thirty-five. Chronic pain conditions don’t give a damn how old you are, how active you are, or what you have going for you.
I don’t understand why people would accuse me of exaggerating my pain or refuse to believe me because of my age. Like, what does my age have to do with anything? I have heard of children as young as eleven being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and my sister was diagnosed with arthritis when she was eighteen.
The doubt I receive from people is stressful, hurtful, and confusing. These are people that claim to know me, yet, because of my age, they can’t seem to comprehend that I have legitimate chronic pain conditions. There is a bright side, though. When you suffer from chronic pain conditions, especially as a younger person, you learn who your real friends are. These people are treasures and should be held onto tightly.
Two years later, I am still dealing with the doubters, but they are happening less often. I cut off the people that flat out accused me of lying about my conditions, and told off the people that accused me of exaggerating my pain levels. Doing those two rather difficult things really helped with my stress level. Which, in turn, helped my pain levels. I know that I’m going to be dealing with these two chronic pain issues for the rest of my life, but I have built and continue to build fibromyalgia support groups .
The one thing that I would love for someone to say to me when I tell them about my pain is “I believe you.” So, to all my fellow chronic pain sufferers and my online Reachout friends,; I believe you.
For greater insight into interacting with fibromyalgia patients or if you would like to chat with others affected by fibromyalgia, I highly recommend joining the app, Reachout.