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Adrienne Dellwo

Ending Relationships with Fibromyalgia & Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

By February 12, 2013

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When you have fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, you have to make sure you minimize the things in your life that can make your symptoms worse. Sometimes, as painful as it can be, that means eliminating people.

Some relationships can be just as toxic as chemicals or infectious agents. When a person runs you down, makes you feel bad about yourself, gives you a guilt trip about your illness, or otherwise drains your energy, you might have to consider whether it's worth having them in your life.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote about a traumatic event that had happened to me and my husband. At that time, we had to cut some people out of our lives. It was agonizing at first, but it wasn't long before we realized we were better off without them - they hadn't been worthy of our friendship to begin with.

Now I'm faced with this situation again. A close family member has become a big problem for me, constantly trying to undercut my confidence and getting in little digs at every opportunity. I live a few hundred miles away from this person, so the logistics are simple - I stop calling and don't answer calls. Done. Emotionally, it'll be a lot more difficult, but honestly it's a relief to think about not having to deal with this person. It'll create a ripple effect through the family, but I think I've come to terms with that. Most of them have made little or no effort to be a part of my life, anyway.

The silver lining of cutting toxic people out of my life is that now the people I am around are those who really matter and who truly care about me. It's relieved a lot of stress, and my social life no longer leaves me drained, frustrated and exhausted.

Get help dealing with toxic relationships, from some of my fellow About.com Health Guides:

Do you need to cut toxic people out of your life? Have you already? What has your experience been? Leave your comments below!


Photo Kim Steele/Getty Images

February 12, 2013 at 9:05 am
(1) kellystout says:

Good for you! I know that was hard, but we can’t pick our family, right? I have had to do the same, but not my family. Right now my mom and sister are the only ones that understand….my husband, not so much. Just gotta keep on keepin’ on, try not to sweat the small stuff and keep all the negative people out of our lives. It really does make a huge difference when we surround ourselves with positive people.

February 12, 2013 at 9:09 am
(2) Shawna says:

Been there, done that, kept my sanity!

I have explained my limitations to relatives and rather than accepting them, they just don’t bother with me any more.

The toxic people I had to cut out are busy being toxic to them so they can deal with the nastiness and I have PEACE.

I was lonely at first but then filled in the blanks with like-minded people that actually care about me. Thank science for the internet!!

February 12, 2013 at 10:18 am
(3) Paul says:

Good article. I’ve removed a few people who were basically a big drain on me emotionally, I can guarantee you will feel better for it.

Unfortunately it’s not always possible when illness leaves you financially vulnerable.

February 12, 2013 at 11:26 am
(4) Shakota says:

Wow Adrienne, your post couldn’t have come at a better time. I have had to speak very directly to a relative about our relationship. I realize that my speaking up and out about it will probably mean the end of it.

But I couldn’t put up with the guilt trips this person tries to put on me and the lack of understanding about my symptoms which she doesn’t believe in.She thinks that since I don’t work (I’m on disability) I should provide adult day care for her while she carries on her social life.

I have explained that I have a four hour day and I need the time to accomplish my errands. I have explained about fatigue and that I have trouble driving to her house.. I have explained and explained but she doesn’t even ask about my fibro. She simply keeps asking me to do things she herself could do and gets my sibling to ask me too.

She has tons of money and could hire someone. But she wants me for free and 3x a week and whenever she wants to stay the night at her girlfriend’s and she doesn’t work but socializes all week long and calls it “work”.

During a family business deal she was devious and oppositional, and she had all the power. It was unbearable. I realize that she has no real caring for me, and never did. Her values irk me and I realize that I cannot stand this person and I do not want to pretend that I like her and feel forced and manipulated even going to family holidays. She’s not interested in me as a person.

Sure, there is fallout. My siblings are either mad at me or suffering from the chill. My children may hate me for awhile. I don’t feel self-righteous or triumphant about this but the truth needed to be said. I have to be brave and gradually everyone will adjust and it will be yesterday’s news.. Already I feel lighter and better that I won’t have to be subject to her manipulation.

February 12, 2013 at 12:11 pm
(5) dfwmom says:

Congratulations. I hope this decision resolves the issues and brings you peace.

I also had to make this difficult choice. First, I raised the issues, and was very specific about what was needed if the relationship was to continue. When it was clear that nothing was going to be addressed, and nothing was going to change, I stopped visits and phone calls. Before cutting ties entirely, I tried for some time to preserve the relationship by refusing to discuss certain conversational topics, and leaving if the behavior was trending toward the undesirable, but the behavior still escalated, and I had to take further steps. It is difficult to get away from someone in a complex family environment. I found that I had to reduce contact with ALL my family, in order to restore a sense of peace and order to my life. It worked, and I do not regret my choice. Family members often seem to have trouble observing boundaries. They feel more comfortable making demands, and imposing their expectations on you. I am happier, and more comfortable in an environment with people who hesitate to intrude or make demands, and I try to reciprocate. In breaking the ties, it was essential to me that I wished the persons the greatest happiness in their lives. I just wished that they enjoy it at some distance from my own life.

It was a healthy choice for me. I hope that this choice will bring you peace, and also peace to the person with whom you will no longer be in contact. A troubled relationship is a strain on everyone involved,

Best Wishes and Peace Be With You.

February 12, 2013 at 2:13 pm
(6) Whatthejules says:

Congratulations on making such a tough choice. I know how hard it can be. I am currently going through a divorce over this very issue. The interesting thing? Now that the pressure of having to care for me has been removed, my future ex and I are better friends than we have been since I got ill. I will never be able to repair the relationships with his family.
My own family has made it clear in many ways that they don’t want to hear about it.
Like others have mentioned here, initially this leaves ones personal world rather lonely. You can, however begin to build up a chosen family, and group of friends that are a support system that you DESERVE.
We all deserve love and support regardless of our state of health. It’s sad that people who loved is well can’t love is the same way now that we are ill.
It says more about them than us. I’ve heard people say I talk about it “too much.”
I’ll talk about it less when you show you “get it”.
A chronically awesome high five to everyone brave enough to make this hard choice!

February 13, 2013 at 3:16 am
(7) Kris says:

I love this forum. It seems like every time I have an issue come up in my fibro life, the answer, support or places to research come to me like magic in my inbox. Adrienne, you’re my hero!

I’m dealing with this right now with a couple of “friends” at work that I’ve recently stopped socializing with. Same issue as everyone else here – too exhausting and draining. My circle gets smaller, but it’s tighter and more loving.

With my parents, I have the opposite, but almost as frustrating problem. Some weeks I have a lot of trouble walking because my feet get tender. For this latest flare up, my mom bought me slippers you can put in the microwave to provide heat. They felt great, but my mom was disappointed they didn’t “cure” my “problem”. She said, “Oh, I thought I was doing something good and you’re feet would be ok”. Then I have to go through AGAIN how it’s really nice that she cares, but this isn’t how fibro works. My dad wants me to take every weird supplement he reads about in the Enquirer and then takes it personally if I don’t want to try anything without talking to my doctor!. Love those two, but it takes a lot of work to try to get them to understand and I know they still don’t get it. But at least they believe me.

February 13, 2013 at 3:51 am
(8) Redswallow says:

I actually awoke in the middle of the night anxious about this very topic. My parents are elderly and desperately need care, which they want me to provide. They have the means to hire all the help they want, but want me to move in with them. I find this unacceptable.
My entire day is built around trying to be active and at peace while dealing with fibromyalgia/RA. Since my father doesn’t recognize fibro as “real,” he would not understand why I must attend warm water aerobics and/or yoga classes daily and rest frequently.
They are hundreds of miles away, but I visit them frequently. We go over this subject every time I visit. On the last visit, my father got very drunk and abusive about this, so I left and drove home by myself. It has taken me weeks to recover.
I love my parents and worry about my mother, who has Alzheimer’s, but honestly do not feel physically up to caring for them. My sister isn’t asked to be a fulltime caregiver because she is married.
Whew! It felt good to get that off my chest. I’m amazed that others are going through the same thing. I have an appointment with a therapist today to discuss possible solutions. I’m not seeing any at this time.
Fibromyalgia is bad enough. We don’t need to close outselves in a prison with people who don’t understand.

February 13, 2013 at 10:57 am
(9) Xenera says:

Wow, Good for you Adrienne. I did this with part of my family when I lived away. Now that I have had to move back to the ‘family’ to be here for my elderly father – well, I am struggling with how to best deal with the issues. I thought things had improved, and they have in some ways, but not totally unless I suppress who I am. It will be a balancing act but one that I am learning.

I congratulate you and all those that recognize how important the mental and emotional quality of our lives are to our illness. It is easy to forget some times, but it is always good to know we are not alone.

February 15, 2013 at 8:15 am
(10) Christina Gombar says:

Redswallow — I hear you!!!

This post really hit home for me as well — toxic digs at the holidays, some friendships lost — better off without.

But the eldercare issue! I was an unpaid eldercare drone for five years. Now that my aunt is gone I realize how much I was taken advantage of. I was able to use my marriage as somewhat of a boundary — but she never had any idea of how much time and energy she required — she even cost me money — I’d expend my limited energy doing her errands, fixing her computer — so would wind up hiring someone to do similar chores for my own household.

Don’t get me started! But I want to warn all you out there with a chronic condition — especially if you have no job or husband — don’t let yourself get abused like this. When I had to go out of town, I had to pay someone $95 an hour to do what I was doing for my aunt — internet and phone research, standing in line at agencies, dealing with nursing home staff. This is the going rate. Do your research and present your other family members with what it would cost to do what you do. If they want to pay you in kind — maybe you need the money. But if you could be working, you’d be working, right? Don’t be taken advantage of!


February 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm
(11) MACBaize says:

At a family get-together, I was referred to as “Debbie Downer” because I never feel like doing anything, always tired and I point out the negative things. (This person’s idea of me “pointing out the negative” had to do with me taking care of an elderly family member. It seems that having me tell the family member that maybe wearing flip-flops isn’t such a good idea for her…especially since she can barely walk when she’s wearing her orthopedic shoes. Or that I happen to point out things around the house that may hurt this person (i.e. rugs that she has tripped over, etc.) Yet I help take care of her, volunteer at a local Hosparus and TRY to work part-time…all while dealing with Fibro and CFS. I guess I’m complaining again. Just sign me…Debbie Downer.

February 15, 2013 at 2:55 pm
(12) bobkat says:

I’m unable to work to to sensory issues (very sensitive to artificial lights, noise and crappy music) and also because I have little stamina. A one-hour workout will leave me very fatigued. I also have fibro fog and menopause fog together, among other things. That’s why I had to quit my job and had to move in with my (still) spouse. We’d been separated, but now we’re forced to live together, which is very hard on me. He constantly belittles and denigrates me, second guesses everything I do or say and when I call him on it he denies it. It’s a toxic situation, but I can’t leave him, since I have no one else.

February 15, 2013 at 3:50 pm
(13) Annette says:

The toxic family/friend issue is so important to discuss mainly because others need to know how many are in this boat and how to deal with it. The guilt can be overwhelming when you know you have to cut someone out, permanently. And I did just that. My goddaughter’s mother beame abusive to me when I became ill. Demanding that I travel out of state to attend a graduation becasue she “had given me plenty of notice” to ge ready for it. I told her I was in a wheel chair and simply did not travel anymore. She was so angry that I “rained on her parade”. Then, she demanded that I provide visiting time with them when they drove out to my state. I told her I simply could not guarantee visiting because of my serious condition. Please do not come, I said. Lo and behold, she was benging on my front door. Needless to say, I never answered the door. What a monster. I just had to sip her out of my life. The peace I’ve enjoyed is magnificent. That was 19 years ago, and she, from what I’ve heard, never grew up. C’est la vie!

February 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm
(14) Pat says:

Unfortunately, the most toxic people in my life are those I work with. The rest of the company is full of great people, but the ones in the office are murder. I have less than a year until I can retire, and it can’t come soon enough.

February 15, 2013 at 4:10 pm
(15) Linda says:

My father passed away 14 years ago and I promised him that I would take care of my mother. Well since then I have been diagnosed with Fibro and most of everything that comes with it. Also during this time my mother was diagnosed with dementia. Her memory has gotten VERY bad I would say in the last year. I repeat things to her almost every day – sometimes five minutes apart. When I tell her things she is very adamant that that is not what she said. I am becoming very frustrated and I am afraid that I will have another heart attack. She is in an assisted living situation (thank goodness) or I could never handle it. My husband has been involved a lot more than he should be and now he is becoming very frustrated and we both sometimes get mad at her because she is not making sound decisions. I don’t mean large decisions (I am POA) but small decisions that affect us her caretakers. My sister and her husband live out of town so they are no help. I have thought of going to Alzheimer Society but my husband wouldn’t go and I don’t drive. Any suggestions??

February 15, 2013 at 4:55 pm
(16) Abot Bensussen says:

While suffering with fibro and aging issuees, I’ve been struck down with bronchitis and feel like hell. It’s been over a month now, and I don’t seem to get much better. Well, I can walk a block now, and back.

My husband is more concerned with his brother far away.Long talks on the phone with him and other family members while I had to go for xRays on my own. Wow, I guess I was jealous! funny.

His neice has been a thorn in my side and I just try to avoid her, her family and her problems. It’s been a great relief to cut ties. Husband can see her whenever without me. or/and talk on the phone and gossip about the family. Not my sort of thing.

I do better writing with friends and taking classes when I’m well. We must be positive and hang with positive people.

February 15, 2013 at 5:28 pm
(17) sue says:

I have been basically housebound for the last six month with alot of health issues and cfs/fibromyalgia is back again after 20 years. It’s sad but when I am not there for self-serving people, they aren’t either. It’s amazing how insensitive people are whether ill or not. I know I am more sensitive when I am this sick and fatigued and depressed and worried but I don’t burden others with my illnesses.

I have a friend who finally emailed me wondering where I have been. I replied with a simple email back that I wasn’t well and ill. She couldn’t even pick up the phone and sent me an unconcerned email back. I have known this friend for over 30 years. I was getting tired of the digs, and comments about my life that I couldn’t keep up with, and since she knows I have CFS and is even in the healthcare field, if she doesn’t have the time, I will not EVER have the time again.

This detachment gives me power and control over my own life although I am not an uncaring person and the loneliness hurts. I think we all find out what people are made of during difficult times and the fact is, the writing is always on the walls way beforehand.

I am better for not having insensitive people in my life and that seems difficult to avoid in Southern CA and I am trying to cope with the guilt but I need to remember to put myself first and take the little energy time I have to get stronger.

February 15, 2013 at 5:39 pm
(18) deborah says:

I am so glad you wrote this article about “toxic people” because I think many of us with FMS and other chronic illnesses have had to go through this. Why people can be so cruel is beyond me, but they can.

I have FMS, SLE, RA, and Diabetes….I don’t let these things control my life, I don’t talk about them, and I live the best I can with-in my limitations. Unfortunately, some people think I should still be running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off going here and going there when I just can’t!

I am fortunate to have a very supportive and loving dh of almost 30 yrs. who WON”T let me overdo and steps in for me when someone tries to bully me into doing more than I can.

I say…cut them loose and count your blessings no matter who is the “Toxin” in your life. ;-)

February 15, 2013 at 6:34 pm
(19) C says:

This is so VERY VERY true. Yes, I have had to do this and it can be hard at first but it is worth it in the long run. I can be a rather caring person and integrity is very important to me so I try to make things work but I have to have my boundaries especially with this illness. Some people do not understand or respect boundaries and this isn’t healthy for anyone…regardless of chronically ill or not. It was hard at first because even though one does not care for me as they should / they are unhealthy, I can still care about them so it can be difficult at first and tempting to break my own boundaries. I have realized ‘the hard way’ that my boundaries keep me safe and I have to just stay away from certain people and personality types. It can also be hard because it can seem like the characteristics I’m looking for for close friends are very rare but there are people with integrity, emotional awareness, maturity and kindness out there. They are worth searching for and waiting for. Much better than toxic people. God bless you all and thanks for sharing this article.

February 15, 2013 at 6:41 pm
(20) C says:

I should also add, that some of the people I’ve had to eliminate from my life have had very pivotal roles in my life. E.G. certain family members. This may sound harsh but even if this is the case, especially if they are abusive, it just isn’t healthy for them to be involved in my life. I just wanted to let others know they aren’t alone. Abuse should not be tolerated even from people who are physically healthy. God bless! :)

February 15, 2013 at 7:18 pm
(21) Shannon says:

It is truly sad how many people with chronic pain I have met over the years that feel it necessary to cut emotional vampire family members out of their life. It’s sometimes worse than losing a friend even. Family is family and no matter how gently one may broach the subject, eventually someone else in the family will hear another version and then the real fun begins.

Emotional vampires, regardless of your health, are *those* types of people one must avoid at all costs. No matter how long you’ve known them or how much you otherwise may like them, they will drag you down and drain you because it is in their nature.

Since being diagnosed with Fibro, I’ve learned to pick my battles. Let the rest fall by the wayside. One quickly finds out who their true friends are, when you become chronically ill. No doubt about it. That’s fine, keep the ones that matter close. The rest simply don’t matter.

Light and love <3

February 15, 2013 at 8:14 pm
(22) Jenny says:

Wow Your story couldn’t have come at better time. This is going to sound terrible but my mom causes me ssoooooo much stress. Yes, it is all on purpose. This has been going on for years. The last stunt she pulled was my final straw. Unfortunately, except for one sister, we live within 15 miles of each other, so distance is not an option. My husband has been very supportive and wants me to cut ties (and so do I) but my sister(s) basically think I need to look over the things she does. Easy for them to say-she doesn’t do any of these things to them. I have basically begged my husband to find a job far away to get me away from this. As we all know, the constant stress causes havoc on FM. Help!!

February 15, 2013 at 9:11 pm
(23) claire says:

This i have done it took me 2 years because it was my sister, she has 4 kids and she excepts everyone to help her at the drop of a hat.
she would tell me to get over it or snap out of it, one xmas i had a muscle
spasms in my back all my muscles cramped up it was nasty, my sister had made a xmas lunch plan that involved me doing all the cooking , when i called her and told her waht had happend and that i was bed bound and could not move all she cared about was herself and how was she going to do it on her own not once did she ask if i need anything , i had to send my then 14 year old son to the chemist with a list , i was in bed for 4 days my son went shopping for me and took care fo the house , my sister did nothing i stoped answering the constant calls from her in the end i changed my phone number , it was hard but it was worht it.

February 16, 2013 at 12:52 am
(24) Dana says:

Yes, since getting sick, I have had to cut people out of my life and am at that crossroads again. It’s hard to do because, at times, I feel like I have no one on my side supporting me, who understands what I am going through but I know I’m better off without those people who were never really a support to begin with.

February 16, 2013 at 10:09 am
(25) Maria says:

I have a sister who is totally narcissistic and somewhat paranoid (seriously). She has always been this way (we are in our 50s) and nothing changed when I was diagnosed with chronic severe migraines at first, and then CFIDS almost 18 years ago, and then depression and anxiety when I was going through menopause 12 years ago. She would call me and talk nonstop for an hour about how everyone at her job,in her neighborhood, etc, hated her. She said at one point that if my other sister (who also has CFIDS and FM) would cook the meal and come to her house, we could have Christmas dinner there!
She finally sent me a list of “rules and regulations” for what I had to do in order to be in a relationship with her. It was my perfect out. I have not spoken to her in at least 5 years. It has been such a relief. I used to dread the holidays because it meant I would have to see her. Some people have said to me,”But she’s familly.” If someone is abusive or cruel to you, the fact that they are family is meaningless. They are toxic and should be eliminated from your life.

February 16, 2013 at 11:39 am
(26) adrienne says:

Hi, I had to make a really bad change in my life. And it hurt and still does. That was my sister and niece. Our lives are much better sad to say. I just couldn’t take the comments anymore. I have given all of my family anything that is worth reading to help them understand. My mom has been crappy at times but I only see her once a year. So, that is my story and I am sticking to it. Have a Great Fibro Weekend!

February 16, 2013 at 4:44 pm
(27) Romona says:

It isn’t and easy decision to cut off “toxic” relationships, I know, as I came to this conclusion a few years ago when I was trying to cope with my own illness as well as taking care of my mom who had just been through radiation and chemo for cancer. If I feel even more drained after taking or being with someone, I have to cut that person off. We need to be energized by those around us. Good luck with your latest “cut.” Many, if not most, people don’t get us and our illness; I have explained to my friends and family,”You don’t have to understand what we suffer, just acknowledge it and respect us.”

February 16, 2013 at 5:52 pm
(28) david says:

Unfortunately, spouses selfishly use our illness as excuses to cut us out of their lives. Wedding Vows are carelessly recited with little understanding when said, for better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. Some get it, others don’t. We become despised, financial prisoners. And having young kids keeps you prisoner from just ending it all. All too often, flares come and quietly rip the life right out of your soul. And the term “flares” does not adequately describe the deeply devastating fatigue that leaves us so useless and devoid of energy and life. We become a shell, with nothing to give. Fortunatly, flares come and go in time. And when you learn how to better pace yourself they can somewhat be managed. Unfortunately pacing means less of everything we once were able to do with so much enjoyment, enthusiasm, pleasure, and vitality. Thus the adventure of fibromyalgia continues, for better or for worse. And having healthy, positive, understanding people in our lives can often be life saving. I know I have that in my 2 young sons. They are my life preservers.

February 18, 2013 at 8:23 am
(29) Julie says:

Hi, I have a very toxic relationship with my mum and dad. They both don’t understand my illnesses. I have had M.E for 9 yrs, I also now have Lupus, fibromyalgia, Osteo arthritis and type 2 diabetes. My mum constantly tells me there’s nothing wrong with me, that I’m lazy and just don’t want to work. She’s also constantly saying that I’m obviously fine as I look so well. I would love to have the strength to cut them out of my life, but the guilt is overwhelming. End of moan lol

February 18, 2013 at 10:00 pm
(30) CSB says:

What if it is your spouse?
I feel, this is what I am finding out. Very little, if any support of any kind. I still do the majority of the housework, etc. I makes me sad.
I do get a disability, but try to work some to help with the finances.
It wears me out, but I am still expected to carry the load.
This is my second marriage. My first marriage, I also carried the load of things.

February 19, 2013 at 7:58 am
(31) Anne Marie says:

I have had to do this over so many years already.
The problem is that in the end I am left with only my husband and even he has problems sometimes with coping with my situation.

Life is becoming very lonely now…

February 26, 2013 at 2:25 pm
(32) linda burrell swartzen says:

I have come to realize my only child, my daughter, just can’t relate. She is a user, only there when she needs something, just can’t seem to make time for me unless she needs to unload (for hrs on end) about a horrible seemingly unfixable situation w/ my 16 yr old grandson (<3) and his Dad & step Mom. It just stresses me so bad & I become depressed or anxious. We had an argument – again because I am to listen only – not offer advise, give my opinion or try to help in any way. (We parted several years ago for 1 year – the day my mother died). She again blocked me on FB & on my grandson's phone. It kills me being away from him, but she uses this to "punish" me or make her point, or to hurt me because I hurt her. After we parted this time, after a few days of sadness, depression & crying, I found I felt such a relief, such an unloading of a major burden. Just as before, I was sad & missed them, but the stress, anxiety & depression lifted immensely. I am so torn. I have no other family as I had to cut ties w/ my siblings also – having always been the "white sheep" of the family anyways. My counselor thinks we should all meet to try to fix this…I just don't know if I want to, but don't want to take on the "load again or regret not trying once again.

February 28, 2013 at 5:41 am
(33) marsha says:

Oh, how my heart breaks for some of you…my “toxic” people are my Mother and my younger sister. It is a complicated situation, in that I have an older sister, as well…the older one and I have both had Fibromyalgia/CFS for many years now, and my younger sister…like I said…she saw the affection my Mother gave my older sister {the “white sheep”} so she hopped on board the train, so to speak. Interestingly, though, when I was diagnosed, my Mother would just say, “but you look so well” or “you just need some sleep” knowing full well I’ve NEVER been a good sleeper {she used to safety-pin me to the bed so I wouldn’t bother her dinner parties…} It wasn’t until I realized she was calling BOTH sisters EVERY DAY to ask how they were, yet not calling me at all…insisting I should be calling HER. After all, she’s my “mother”, right? Yeah, well, there are differing definitions of that word.

The final straw came when my younger sister, a never-practising nurse, who has been an addict and hypochondriac her entire life, had been stealing my meds for over two years…and my mother blamed ME for having them in my OWN home. I’d had enough of them both.

I see them now ONLY at Christmas and Thanksgiving, and usually their birthdays, if I can, and I’m up to it, but my husband and I have been married for almost 30 years, not bad for The Black Sheep, and we have 3 wonderful boys. THEY are my family, my rocks, my life. I am sad that I was never able to make my relationship with my own mother work, but it made me tough, and with these diseases, you need to be.

March 11, 2013 at 12:22 pm
(34) Michaelann says:

I have had to do this many times, even before I was ever sick. It’s important for everyoen I think, to surround themselves with positive, healthy, supportive rlationships. Toxic people are of no use to anyone.

March 19, 2013 at 7:38 am
(35) Tina Gordon says:

I ended a relationship with someone who wanted me to understand his illness (fibromyalgia) without even looking into mine (I suffer with PTSD, severe anxiety, somatoform disorder and chronic fatigue syndrome)… Although he sent me references to read up about his symptoms he seemed to completely ignore that CFS has many similarities… I also pass out/fit when my brain becomes overwhelmed due to PTSD…. Sadly I found the relationship became very one-sided… I had to travel an hour on the train to visit him, which, with severe anxiety, was very difficult…. If I couldn’t make it he started guilt tripping me or making false accusations if I saw a male friend… Things went further downhill after he was saying how I didn’t understand his illness and his was worse than mine as I, apparently, “only pass out” with mine!!! I finally decided to walk away after I had managed to go out for a drink with some friends, after a week of being severely ill due to a huge amount of stress and many fits and because I hadn’t jumped on the train to see him (as I was obviously well enough because I was in a pub) he accused me of cheating…. The constant guilt trips were horrendous, his comment about his illness being worse than mine was disgusting (oh when I ‘just’ pass out i’ve fallen down the stairs, ended up with concussion and ended up in hospital before) and in the end, for both my physical and my mental health, ending the relationship was my only option…. Toxic relationships are incredibly draining… It may hurt to walk away, but it is far more damaging to stay in one!

March 20, 2013 at 8:54 am
(36) Ali xx says:

PART 1. I recently had to do this with a partner, we had been engaged He understood more of me than I ever thought was possible actually a lot of the time, having fibro and psoriatic and osteo arthritis pretty much from head to toe. When I was flaring badly with fibro he was awesome, when my PsA was flaring he would refill the hot water bottles, and be wonderful. I had a bilateral tmj replacement due to a damaged joint and the PsA got to it. It was quite serious surgery and he was at my bedside 18 hours a day. So in some ways he was wonderful and caring. When it came to my emotions though, different story. I understand he didnt want me to be sick but didnt get it that you have to face it. So if I tried to discuss my fears for PsA long term, he would tell me I was being silly. I have major problems with sleep and 6 night a week am up till 3, 4, 5, 6 am. Every night he would get out of bed and get cranky and tell me I should be asleep. Dont be on the computer its keeping you awake etc. He also doesnt like waiting rooms, great in the office but while we were waiting, if I spoke he would snarl at me. I wished he wasnt there. If it was something important like when I was getting my jaw done, of course I was nervous and things, he would still be the same, snarly. PART 2 BELOW

March 20, 2013 at 8:55 am
(37) Ali xx says:

PART 2. With temper one time he said our sex life was f………d and had been for some time, then another time says “its ok I can manage and understand if you are in too much pain” So there was a constant up and down in our relationship, lots of stress. Eventually I finished it , I ended up feeling he wasnt happy and I couldnt live up to his expectations. I very much felt like he didnt consider my feelings, being cranky every night I was awake, yet he knows the doctor and I have been working our way through all the sleeping pills to try and get me some sleep. I average 3-4 hours a night. I just couldnt take the ups and downs anymore and lost my self confidence and strength which I very much need to get through with my fibro and arthritis. Its been over about 2 weeks now. He desperately wants me back, but there is no way. I have felt so much relief since he is gone. Yes I miss him a little, but at 3am I dont have to worry he will wake up. When I go to the docs, yes I will go in alone, but wont have him being horrid while we are waiting. I think some time in the future I will find someone who is happy with their life but would like an occasional dinner date, or weekend together. I plan on enjoying life as much as I can, sorry for the long story, good luck to you all. Hugs! Ali xx

August 8, 2013 at 6:20 am
(38) c says:

Interesting reading some of the comments. I suppose I was the toxic partner to some degree. Though our problems ranged far beyond partner having CFS/ME.

But what I picked up on in the time we were a couple, it was always expected that I should understand how the person was feeling, which is difficult on something so vague and unspecific, but never felt they understood how challenging it could sometimes be to live with someone suffering constant illness.

Getting told I never showed I cared, but never given the chance to, when was being told constantly how they felt.

Once I tried opening up and expressing that it sometimes was frustrating, and I was made to feel I had no right to feel anything. After all, it was them going through all this not me.

Every time I felt sick, tired or down, it was always turned into a comparison – “Well, imagine how I feel”. So when I felt rubbish, I tried to keep it to myself.

I’m not saying some people here didn’t have valid cause for breaking off those relationships, and some people sounded downright horrid, but perhaps some don’t realise how much pressure they put on their partners.

As much support as you need, they need some to. They need an outlet. They need your encouragement to get out and do stuff without you if you don’t feel up to it, without any guilt attached. They need you to give them some space, and a chance to ask “How are you?”, without unloading on them.

If they have a stressful job to go to, try to imagine how little relief they get. Straight from stressful job, home to ill partner.

It’s all fine and well, saying in sickness and in health, and assuming that because you are ill, it’s up to them to be the supportive party, but in truth, that support and understanding needs to run both ways.

November 30, 2013 at 12:16 am
(39) Mary says:

Had fibro for 20 years- you’d think my husband and 2 children would have some understanding and consideration….NO- NOT AT ALL!!! They’re cruel, hurtful and constantly in their way remind me that I’m inferior. Hope none of you are dealing with this. It’s just horrible. No-one wants to be around a person with such a problem. Absolutely no compassion- EVER.

December 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm
(40) RockinME says:

@c, As the caretaker, you made valid points in your comment above. It made me feel better to read what your wrote because, as the sick one, I am doing what you say we should, and I agree it’s the best way for us to act.

My supportive husband is happy all the time in spite of being my caretaker and I’m pretty sure it’s because I always acknowledge all he does. I tell him how grateful I am for him every chance I get, I encourage him to go out and do things and take trips, I ask him how his day is, I get him things and take care of his needs when I’m up to it. Yeah. But, I know I’m lucky, because he is awesome and I know darn well that doing all that with someone who is resentful or cruel wouldn’t work. In your case, c, I think you’re the one being mistreated, and I’m sorry to hear that’s happening to you.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to cut off my siblings and I’ve lost almost all of my friends. My brain still likes to blame me, especially when I’m feeling horrible, but I know I’m doing the best I can, and I can’t change other people. It hurts like hell to be in this position because I can’t make the changes in my life that I want to. I can’t just go and meet new people as I’m too bedridden and I’m operating with 1/8s of teaspoons. Every expenditure of energy makes me worse. Even being around positive people causes me more pain and illness, ditto with phone calls.

I’m grateful to everyone here for sharing their stories, and their emotional pain regarding this issue. It helps so much for me to know that I really am not to blame and that, sad as it is, many people in this world just cannot be here for us in the way I think they should; or in the way I would hope I would be if the tables were turned.

Hang in there everyone. I wish you all peaceful holidays.

February 4, 2014 at 11:22 am
(41) Vickie Clarke says:

I was excised from someone’s life who was suffering from ME, and he had no regard whatsoever at the pain which he caused me. He just cut me off, leaving me crying and in pain. I never really got an explanation from him, he had been very selfish and saw me as a scapegoat. It has been nine months now and I still cry over him and blame myself. If you have to jettison people, please be kind, not brutal and callous.
They might end up suffering more than you.

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