In an online survey of more than 6,000 people diagnosed with fibromyalgia:
- Half of respondents said illness-related damage to their marriage or serious relationship was mild to moderate, or had contributed to a break up;
- Half said they were unsatisfied with their spouse/partner, at least in part because of severe symptoms in general, or because of the mood disturbance that is frequently a symptom;
- Fewer than half, but a "substantial minority," said their illness had damaged relationships with their children and close friends as well.
What Can We Do About It?
Many of us have seen these problems first hand. It's hard on everyone when illness - any illness - intrudes on a relationship. It's even harder when some people refuse to accept that our illness is real and we can't produce a blood test or scan to prove it to them.
Adding to the problem is how one day we're quite functional and the next we're balled up on the couch twitching in pain and unable to form a sentence. Some of the people in our lives just can't make sense of it, and a portion of them, quite frankly, don't care enough to try.
In my opinion, all we can do is try to educate the people around us who do care enough. Take your significant other to your doctor's appointments. Show research to the people closest to you. Let them know what's considered "normal" for people with fibromyalgia so they can see that, while your illness may appear bizarre, it's an experience shared by millions of people.
Here's some information to help you get started:
- A Simple Explanation of Fibromyalgia
- When Someone You Love has Fibromyalgia
- Is Fibromyalgia a Real Disease?
What has fibromyalgia done to your relationships? Have you been able to rebuild them? What has helped you get through some of the difficult times? Leave your comments below!
Photo © Medioimages/Photodisc/Getty Images