By: Paige Wyant
Fibromyalgia is a chronic and incurable condition characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, chronic fatigue, brain fog and sleep disturbances that is estimated to affect between three and six percent of the global population. However, since fibromyalgia was formally recognized only a few decades ago, many people (including doctors) are still unfamiliar with the illness and the reality of how it can affect someone’s life.
We wanted to correct some of the misconceptions surrounding fibromyalgia, so we asked our Mighty community to share the “myths” they’ve heard that make it even harder to live with the condition. Breaking down these stigmas is not only an important part of promoting general understanding and awareness, but could eventually lead to more research and better treatment options for those with the illness.
Myth #1: Fibromyalgia affects everyone the same way.
“Just because they know someone who also has it doesn’t mean that our symptoms and issues are the same.” – Kyndra E.
Reality: Just as every person is unique, so is their experience with fibromyalgia. Different people may have different symptoms, different comorbidities and may respond differently to the challenges of their illness.
Myth #2: Fibromyalgia only affects older women.
“‘Only older people have it.’ Wrong! Young women and men have fibromyalgia and can be diagnosed even in early teen years.” – Kristin S.
“Some people seem to think I’m ‘too young’ to be this sick so it can’t be that bad. So if I just stop being lazy and exercise, eat right and, oh yeah, tell fibro I’m too young to be this ill, everything will be hunky dory.” – Bin T.
Reality: Although fibromyalgia is more common in women and most often gets diagnosed in people between the ages of 35-45, fibromyalgia can affect both men and women of any age.
Myth #3: If you’re able to go out and do something, you must be feeling better.
“Because I managed a trip to the store I ‘must be doing better.’ My family has to eat and I have a home to maintain; of course I have to do some shopping. Just because you see me at Kroger doesn’t mean I’m magically ‘healed’ of my fibro.” – Jessi E.
“Just because I do function means it ‘can’t be that bad’/’I can’t be in that much pain’/’I can’t be that utterly exhausted.’” – Liselle F.
Reality: Despite the often-debilitating symptoms, people with fibromyalgia still have lives and responsibilities. Just because you see them out running errands or getting coffee with a friend doesn’t mean they’re not still dealing with the symptoms and side effects of their illness.