An estimated 3 million to 6 million Americans suffer from Fibromyalgia(FM), whose symptoms include chronic wide-spread pain, fatigue, depression, chronic headaches, joint pain, and cognitive and memory problems. Because medical tests can’t find anything wrong, people are sometimes told it’s all in their head.
‘You look OK but you don’t feel OK’
FM is very hard to understand for people who do not have the condition. One day you could be fine, the next day you can hardly get out of bed. This makes it very hard on a marriage when your partner sees you one minute out with the girls going shopping, then the next minute complaining you can hardly move because you are in so much pain.
You used to be this vibrant person always entertaining guests or going out to dinner. Now you are so tired you don’t even want to make dinner.
This does cause a strain on any relationship. Either 1. they do not understand and get upset because they think you are just getting lazy. 2. they try to sympathize with you but this doesn’t help because in the end they get tired of you always being ‘sick’ 3. they go and read everything there is to know on the internet about FM and try to cure you themselves which just makes you upset. Or there is 4. they will actually listen to what you have to say.
There was a study done recently on the effects of FM on marriages. Here is an excerpt from the study:
Fibromyalgia Affects Mental Health of Those Diagnosed and Their Spouses, Study Finds
ScienceDaily (Apr. 30, 2010) — Fibromyalgia is a condition that causes chronic, widespread pain throughout the body. In a new study, University of Missouri researchers are examining how the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia can affect marriages. Initial findings reveal that diagnosed spouses have considerably higher levels of depressive symptoms and pain and report more marital instability and anger than their spouses. For both spouses, the symptoms can trigger increased emotional withdrawal and mental strain.
“Preliminary research suggests that fibromyalgia is very hard on both spouses because their lives are changed dramatically,” said Christine Proulx, assistant professor of human development and family studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. “There appears to be a strong link between fibromyalgia and feelings of depression and fatigue, which can be debilitating for those diagnosed and their marriages. The mental strain felt by both spouses can negatively affect marital quality.”
Proulx found that individuals with fibromyalgia were almost three-times more depressed than their spouses. The diagnosed spouses reported higher levels of marital instability and more marital anger, indicating they were more likely to consider divorce than their spouses. The healthy spouses reported that it was difficult to watch their spouses experience pain.
“Both spouses are put in difficult positions when one partner is diagnosed with fibromyalgia,” Proulx said. “Spouses must balance the presence of the disease, which can produce hostility or withdrawn behavior in the marriage, with the difficulty of being sick or being supportive to the spouse who is sick. These factors can create a cycle that can be very negative if it can’t be broken.”
In the study, Proulx is studying the interactions of married couples that include one spouse who has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia or chronic widespread pain. The spouses record diary entries about their marital interactions and personal feelings. Proulx is examining the associations between marital quality, daily interactions, social support and the spouses’ personal well-being.
Fibromyalgia is controversial because there is no consensus on the cause of the chronic pain symptoms it causes, Proulx said. It has no cure, so many of the couples who participated in the study reported that they were constantly trying different treatments to manage the symptoms.
Findings from the pilot study, “Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain, and Marriage: A Daily Diary Pilot Study,” were presented last November at the National Council of Family Relations Conference.
In any situation open communication is the key. The problem with FM is the brain fog. If you are diagnosed with FM, start writing down everything in a journal. That way you won’t lose pieces of paper like I did. However, the most important thing is to write everything down because you won’t remember all the information. This way you will have it for reference afterwards.
Have a great Day!!