I hope you are all well and have had a good week. My blog post today is something I have never done before and didn’t expect to ever do. I was approached by NewLifeOutlook, which is an online community that gives valuable tips and information on living with certain conditions, like Fibromyalgia and Lupus.
They approached me on Twitter and asked if I would like to publish a guest post on my blog. I chose this one because I found this to be the one that related to me the most.
How Do I Tell You I’m Sick?
How do I tell you I’m sick? Whether it’s a new friend, a family member, a new boss or your partner, it’s always difficult to know what to say, how to say it, and whether or not you should say anything at all.
I’m 31 and, having had fibromyalgia for seven years, there have been many occasions when I’ve had to contemplate when and how to tell someone that I have an invisible illness. I’ve told different people and tried different approaches.
I recently took all of these experiences and created a fibromyalgia toolkit — a blog post with links to my 10 favourite articles that help explain fibromyalgia to the various people in your life.
In general the feedback from my readers was really positive, but one person contacted me to say the post was unhelpful because, as she put it, “No one has any business knowing about your health, you should keep that information to yourself.” Now, I put my entire life online, so those words are kind of lost on me. But I took her point.
So, when should you tell people, when should you stay quiet and, if you choose to speak, what should you say?
Firstly, there are no rules here. Whether you choose to tell people about your health condition is entirely up to you. Don’t feel bullied in to keeping quiet, and don’t feel forced into revealing more than you’re comfortable with. It’s up to you, and only you.
If you have an invisible illness, it’s likely that people misunderstand your condition or, in the case of fibromyalgia, have never even heard of it. So if you’re going to tell people, work out what you’re going to say first. How will you (briefly) describe your illness? What are the defining symptoms?
I tend to say something like, “I have a chronic pain condition that affects my ability to walk long distances, stand for long periods of time, and carry heavy things.” It works for me, but your approach might be slightly different.
Sometimes the people we tell about our condition want to learn more about it. Either they want to verify what you’ve said or, hopefully, they’re looking for ways to educate themselves and help you. Sadly, the internet is full of websites that doubt the legitimacy of fibromyalgia, so why not guide the people you care about to the websites you trust and recommend.
It’s Still Personal
It’s one thing to read the facts, definitions and medical articles, but it’s quite another to understand how a condition actually affects a person. When you decide to tell someone about your condition, tell them how it impacts you and your life.
When I told my boss about my health I gave her the facts and the resources and told her about my bad days — but I also told her about my good days. I wanted her to understand me at my worst, as well as know I was more than capable of doing my job.
How Can They Help?
If you’re telling a new friend or partner about your health, then we can safely assume they love you and want to help you. It’s important that when you give them the facts and the side-effects, you also tell them how they can help. You don’t need to give them a shopping list of demands, but saying things like, “Heat makes a big difference so, if you have a spare hot water bottle…” can help them to feel useful.
Good luck! In my opinion, being honest and telling people about your health can only improve your relationships with them, as well as your ability to cope with your pain. But every situation is unique and each of us copes in our own way, so whatever you do — do what feels right.
Here is a little bit about the author who wrote this. She has her own blog so feel free to go and have a look and check out out NewLifeOutlook|Fibromyalgiawebsite for more information.
Sarah Borien lives in South London, UK, with her partner and cats. She has had fibromyalgia since 2009 and is passionate about finding and sharing new coping strategies. By day she works in corporate responsibility and the rest of the time she writes for her blog, A Life Less Physical and for NewLifeOutlook|Fibromyalgia.
I hope you all enjoyed this blog. It’s something different to what I would normally do and something I would definitely try again. As always feel free to leave any comments, likes and feel free to follow me on any social networking or on here.