How to help your loved one cope with a fibromyalgia diagnosis
The diagnosis of fibromyalgia may come as a shock to your loved one. In some cases, it may even be relieving to have some clarity about the causes of their suffering.
To start, because this disease is often referred to as the “invisible disease” its symptoms are not usually physically apparent. This means that when individuals complain that they are in pain oftentimes their loved ones don’t believe them or are not as receptive to the suffering because it doesn’t seem like the individuals are actually in evident distress.
It can oftentimes take years to get an official, medical diagnosis!
That said, maintaining open communication with the fibromyalgia sufferer in your life can be essential to help them validate their feelings. Sometimes the greatest relief you can provide is simply the ability to listen.
Tips and Strategies for Helping Your Loved One Deal With a Fibromyalgia Diagnosis
Here are some tips and strategies you can use to help a loved one cope with the pain of fibromyalgia as well as a recent diagnosis of the disease.
Tips & Strategies
- Listen to them. As we already mentioned, it’s important to listen to your loved one and be receptive to however they choose to express their distress.
- After a diagnosis, there may be a period of denial which eventually yields to grief, as they begin to accept their diagnosis and the inevitable difficulties living with fibromyalgia entails.
- It’s important to give the individual time and space as they grieve. Everybody grieves in their own way, so it’s best just to sit back a bit and observe how they react to the diagnosis. You’ll understand how to respond, as long as you do so with compassion and empathy.
- The grieving process may last for a long time. It’s important to remember not to get impatient with your loved one if it takes them weeks or months to become fully acclimated to their new situation. If their grieving continues for an inordinate amount of time, it may be necessary to have your loved ones speak to a licensed medical health professional.
- A psychologist or psychiatrist can provide coping strategies for an individual suffering from fibromyalgia.
- Do your own research. Become more familiar with fibromyalgia, its symptoms, and the best treatment options. This way, you will be better able to understand what your loved one is going through. You’ll also be able to assist them more effectively when you go to doctors appointments with them.
- Try not to stress them out. Stress is known to aggravate the symptoms of fibromyalgia, causing flare-ups. Try not to let your own anxieties and concerns about their condition worry them. Try to remain upbeat and positive.
- Try not to pressure them. Especially because the symptoms of fibromyalgia are so difficult to discern, you may forget yourself and try to encourage your loved one back into the swing of normal activities that you both used to enjoy before the onset of the illness. Individuals afflicted with fibromyalgia often experience a lack of energy. They generally only have a limited amount of energy that they can use in the day.
- Be mindful of their limitations and the changes in lifestyle that are a result.
If your loved one has recently been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, it’s likely that they’ve been suffering from symptoms for a prolonged period of time.
A diagnosis establishes some certainty while also introducing a cause for grief. Empathize with your loved one, assure them that you will be there for them, listen to their concerns and complaints, and remain mindful of their limitations.
These are all ways that you can help your loved one deal with a recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia.