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Dealing with dismissive attitude towards Fibromyalgia and CFS
Saturday 5 March 2011
Adrienne Dellwo discusses an unhelpfully common problem for many people with ME/CFS/Fibromyalgia:
Dealing With Dismissive Attitudes Toward Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Nearly all of us have heard it -- "I can't believe you're that sick when you look just fine." Ignorant, dismissive attitudes like that can haunt people with invisible, poorly understood illnesses like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.
I recently got an email (thanks, Anne!) about a woman she met online who has a brilliant way to strike back against those who dismiss our symptoms simply because they don't understand them – throw it right back at them. For example:
Healthy person: "I don't see anything wrong with you and I don't believe in chronic fatigue syndrome. You just need to get some exercise and you'll feel better."
You: "Didn't you say your mother is diabetic?"
Healthy: "Yes, she's really been struggling with it."
You: "I've seen your mother and she looks just fine to me. I think she's just whining and being lazy."
I have to say, I laughed out loud when I first read about this tactic! It almost makes me want someone to make a ridiculous statement to me about fibromyalgia.
I've said this before, but I think it's worth bringing up again: we need to be prepared for these conversations so we know what to say. Yes, brain fog may complicate your response, but the better you're prepared the more likely you are to come out with something worthwhile.
For example, if a health-care worker ever questions these illnesses to my face, I plan to ask, "Are you too lazy to keep up with the research or too incompetent to understand it?" I run it through my head before every encounter with a new doctor.
Have you come up with a way to deflect those unwelcome comments? What stupid, insulting things have people said to you? Have you thought of the perfect response too late to use it? Leave your comments below!
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The above, with many comments, originally appeared here.
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