Slaying Fibro & Other Invisible Illnesses

Encouragement, Tips, and Ideas from One Slayer to Another

Hiding Chronic Illness (from Yourself)

Originally, I wanted to start a #365 project where I shared my life with chronic illness through a blog. I wanted to share the good days and the bad days. I didn’t last long in my plan because, at the time, there were more bad days than good.

 

Image by Alexander Shustov via Unsplash

To look at my drafts folder for blog posts is a bit depressing. I didn’t want to write it, so I didn’t want people to read it. I didn’t want to be that depressing chick on the internet.

So I took a break. A very long break. Instead of writing, I spent my time hiding my chronic illness.

I talked to my family and my closest spoonie friends but kept my struggles secret from the rest of the world. I lurked in groups on Facebook and read – but didn’t tweet – on Twitter. With each post and tweet, private message or conversation through tears, I felt loved as others listened to me and shared their struggles.

Then it hit me.

Why We Hide

I stopped blogging because I was embarrassed. I didn’t want to have to explain the details to those who didn’t know that I was sick. I wanted to be like everyone else in cyberspace sharing photos of dinner plates and Pinterest crafts. I didn’t want to be seen as different.

I stopped blogging because I wanted to be in denial. If I didn’t admit it, I didn’t have to face it. I could keep my bad days to myself so that others didn’t see. Eventually, if I could convince them that I was fine then maybe, just maybe, I could also convince myself of the same thing.

I stopped blogging because I was tired. I believed that because I didn’t have the energy reserves to do many of the things in my daily life it meant I didn’t need to spend energy on blogging. But how wrong I was! I need to write because I need to connect with others. I need to write because I need to process how I feel as a person living with chronic illness. I need to write because I need to do something that I can believe has meaning and merit.

But how wrong I was! I need to write because I need to connect with others. I need to write because I need to process how I feel as a person living with chronic illness. I need to write because I need to do something that I can believe has meaning and merit.

Why We Need Others

Support from other spoonies helps us learn to shed that embarrassment. We can see that what we are going through really is more normal than we think. Others share our struggles and doubts, so we don’t need to be afraid to do the same. We also don’t need to have shame in our illness. It is part of us, but it doesn’t define us.

Our spoonie buddies help us remember that this is only one part of life. We see them rise above the challenges which, in turn, gives us the encouragement that we can do it, too. We help each other focus on the blessings that we have in our lives and the unique characteristics our struggles give our personality. We can become enriched as part of the community so that we see beyond our diagnoses.

When we connect with others, we can carry each other when rest is needed. There are many nights that I send a message to a spoonie friend because I am anxious over a symptom or have become depressed over the flare that wouldn’t end. It isn’t a replacement for your mental and physical healthcare team, but it is still a valuable tool that can get us through those times when we are too tired to think. We can lean on our friends when we don’t have the energy to stand on our own.

Try It

Reach out to others who are fighting similar battles as well as those slaying the same dragons you are in your life. Even if we are dealing with different chronic illnesses, we can understand and empathize with the struggle. Other spoonies get you without having to be you.

If you aren’t part of a community, become one today.

Here are some things to try:

  • Leave me a comment below. I’d love to be part of your support team.
  • Join communities, pages, and groups on sites such as Facebook to connect with others. I’d love to have you be part of Slaying Fibro and the related Seeking: Health and Wellness group.
  • Set up a Twitter account and start chatting with those of us who understand. There are so many wonderful people in the #chroniclife community. The beauty of social media is that we can connect via our smart phones and tablets from our beds if need be.

You are not alone. Together, we might not be physically stronger (because #fibrosucks) but we can be emotionally stronger.

 

About Stephanie Pitcher Fishman

Stephanie Pitcher Fishman is a writer of fiction and family stories who battles fibromyalgia and other invisible illnesses every day. She’s the author of Finding Eliza, The Widow Teal, and many genealogy guides in the Quick & Easy Guides for Genealogists series. You can find her author page at www.stephaniefishman.com. She writes about her experiences with fibromyalgia at www.slayingfibro.com.

Taking care of yourself is not optional.

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Slaying your dragon (aka your pain) takes a lot out of you. Those of us with chronic illness really need time to heal and care of not just our bodies but our mind and soul as well. Let me help by giving you my best tips and ideas in my eBook Self Care 10 Ways (When You Just Feel Like Lying in Bed)for FREE.