While there may have been a traumatic event that triggered your fibromyalgia, it is NOT your fault. You didn’t bring it on yourself. Your body may have been predisposed to FM, which probably is why you were symptomatic long before your diagnosis. Feeling guilty and thinking you may have been able to do something to avoid it is futile, and a waste of your valuable energy.
You may feel guilty because you’re unable to do even the simplest things for yourself or your family. Perhaps the guilt comes from no longer being able to hold down a job.
A few things that can cause guilt with FM
Working: Whether you are the sole provider, or help to contribute to the family financially, there’s a lot of guilt and grief when you no longer can work. Your friends and family may not really understand why you can’t work and that may contribute to your guilt feelings. Let it go.
Cooking and cleaning: As a woman, I feel this especially when we’re no longer able to keep up with cleaning and laundry. Cooking becomes a dreaded activity, instead of a normal activity, in your day. When I’m particularly fatigued I always opt for what’s easy: Sandwiches, pizza delivered, frozen meals, or even cereal. FM takes away so much.
Parenting: If you have young or school-aged children, the guilt can become paralyzing. We can’t play like we’d like to, or take our kids to the park or museums. We feel guilty if we spend a lot of time in bed or on the sofa, not to mention that kids come with an innate ability to make us parents feel guilty. Remind yourself this is not your fault, and you’re doing the best you can. Your children probably will be more compassionate than their peers because of your FM.
I think one way to combat all this guilt is to change the way we talk to ourselves. What we say about ourselves, and to ourselves, greatly impacts our reality.
Here are some examples of how I have changed the way I talk to myself, or about myself, in an effort to be more compassionate.
When I lay down or take a nap, I’m not being lazy, I’m doing what my body needs.
I didn’t ask for FM, so I shouldn’t feel guilt that it keeps me from doing some things.
I may not be able to do a lot of things with my kids, but I’m here and always available to talk.
It’s really about setting aside the guilt, and embracing the challenges in a more positive way. Guilt impacts our mental and physical health negatively, so we need to find and then accentuate the positive. I know it’s not necessarily easy, especially on those bad FM days, but it should be our goal.