Coping When You Have Fibromyalgia and You're Told Nothing's Wrong

...When You KNOW Something's Wrong!

How many times has a doctor said, "Nothing is wrong with you," after looking at blood-test results or scans?

Older woman reading brochure with younger man and doctor
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It's common for those of us with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome to hear that, since these illnesses aren't diagnosed by blood work or imaging but are instead diagnoses of exclusion.

Most people think all those negative results are good news. However, when you know something is wrong, when it's disrupting your life, when you're worried that it won't go away or – worse – could be something fatal, the last thing you want to hear is, "Everything looks fine."

In the face of that, it can be hard to keep pushing your doctor to figure out what's going on. However, many of us find that it's important to do exactly that, because it's what leads to a diagnosis and treatment.

When it Comes From Friends or Family

We can run into a real problem when family members or friends adopt the "nothing is wrong with you" attitude. This often happens because they have a hard time believing in something when there's no proof that they can see. People want to be able to look at something and say, "There's the problem, right there."

With these conditions (and many others), that's just not possible. On top of that, our symptoms tend to fluctuate. When how you feel, and therefore how you behave, is inconsistent, it adds to their doubts.

If you're faced with a situation like this, you might want to consider a couple of options. Education may help, including articles that explain the illness or having them accompany you to a doctor's appointment.

If it's a primary relationship in your life (spouse, parent, child, romantic partner), you may want to get couples or family counseling to help them better understand the situation.

If it's a less significant relationship and education isn't effective, think about whether that relationship is necessary. Toxic relationships can do a lot of harm, and sometimes we may be better off without a particular person in our lives.

When it comes to some people, such as co-workers, we have no control over their presence in our lives and it's just not appropriate to try educating them about your health problems. In those instances, you may have to decide whether going to a supervisor or human resources person would be beneficial.

Regardless of other people's opinions on your condition(s), rest assured that these are real, physiological illnesses with decades of research behind them. You have good company in the millions of people around the world who share your diagnosis as well as your symptoms and your fears. It's important to try to find support where you can.

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