If you know someone with Fibromyalgia, you may be wondering what on earth you can do to help and support them. Friendships are incredibly important and being able to maintain those relationships can make a massive difference to someone with Fibromyalgia.
Unfortunately for me and many people with Fibromyalgia, friendships have slowly but surely reduced in size over the years. The constant refusal of invites, short notice let downs, forgetting of birthdays or lack of enthusiasm when out and about can put even the best friendships under pressure. Often I just cannot find the energy to make the effort to get out of the house, there is a fear of feeling ill, being in pain, not getting to the toilet in time and many other reasons to not go out that play around in my head. Eventually, I convince myself everyone would be better off if I stayed at home. With the advent of Facebook and other social media sites, seeing your friends out and about living their life and having fun, while you remain in the safety of your own home leaves even the strongest person feeling alone, isolated and ultimately, unloved.
If you want to give your friend with Fibromyalgia the support, compassion and friendship they so desperately need, here are 5 ways, I know they will appreciate.
There are loads of resources about Fibromyalgia available online so read up about the condition and try to understand it as best you can. Understanding more about what Fibromyalgia is and how it affects people will help you to adapt your actions around your friend, help you understand their limitations and be more able to provide educated advice and support instead of dismissing their concerns or complaints.
Offer To Help Out
Often the simplest tasks cost someone with Fibromyalgia their energy stores for the rest of the day. When you pop round to visit your friend, offer to help with folding washing, making the bed or whipping the vacuum around. Something simple that takes you 10 minutes, could save your friend a day of fatigue or pain or give them the energy to play with their child or take a walk in the park.
Don’t Take Cancellations Personally
I often accept invitations because I want to go or be involved in things, but then chronic pain and fatigue kicks in and I realise I just cannot manage it. There are times when I push myself to go along and I end up broken for days afterward. It’s vital that you don’t stop inviting your friend to do things, even if you half expect a no or a cancellation. Knowing that people still care and still want to spend time with you removes some of the isolation and loneliness so often felt when you have Fibromyalgia. Your friend is not trying to hurt or upset you, they are just struggling to cope.
Keep Bringing The Small Stuff
It might seem silly, but even the smallest act of kindness can make the world of difference to someone with Fibromyalgia. As already covered, going out is sometimes too much and so to still see each other and spend time together, something smaller is in order. Maybe pop round with a board game, pick them up in the car and take them for a drive in the countryside, grab them a coffee and a cake to eat out in the garden on a sunny day with you or phone them out of the blue for a chat. You have no idea how much something so simple would mean.
Be Supportive and Sensitive
Friendships can be fragile and when your friend has Fibromyalgia it can be frustrating and upsetting for you too. You may miss the way the friendship used to be, you may not always understand what is happening or why they are acting a certain way, you might just be fed up of constantly being let down by them. Try to remember that stress and conflict can cause flares and increased pain so if you do need to resolve a frustration or deal with an issue, try to do so in a supportive and sensitive manner.
Do you have Fibromyalgia and feel alone or isolated? Have your friends slowly vanished from your life? Maybe you have a friend with Fibromyalgia? What do you do to be there for your friend?