Fibromyalgia Fatigue: Helping Friends and Family Understand

For those who suffer from fibromyalgia fatigue, the symptoms are all too familiar. But many partners, friends and family don’t fully understand how difficult it all can be. A difficult disease to diagnose, many patients already feel as though they are crazy, and family members can already be a bit burned out by the chronic fatigue that their loved ones seems to suffer from. They don’t understand that fibromyalgia is in itself a chronic disease, and that sufferers don’t like feeling tired all the time. Their bodies are literally fighting against them, and it’s a fight that wears them out.
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Many people don’t grasp the legitimate tiredness that accompanies fibromyalgia. Below are some symptoms specific to fatigue, and how they affect the patient.

* Even after good nights sleep, your loved one still seems very tired. Fibromyalgia causes sleep disturbances in many ways that don’t necessarily awaken the person. Sometimes sore muscles will awaken a patient, or more severe pain will keep them awake. General over the counter remedies don’t often work for these people, and many take stronger sleep aids. Sensitivity to these sleep aids can also cause the sense that although they slept, they did not rest. It’s an ugly catch 22 for many.

* Sleeplessness. Many sufferers are unable to get a good night’s sleep due to pain. Knotted muscles, tender skin bruising, and even “aching hair” can keep patients awake for many nights. They are often able to nap during the day, but never fully get the rest they need.

* Medication. Fibromyalgia sufferers usually go through a variety of cocktails (mixture of various meds) before finding one that works for them. Unfortunately, the ONLY way to figure out what works is through trial and error. Some medications cause sleeplessness. Some cause “amplified” dreams which makes the person feel as though they were running a race through their night season. Some medications cause excessive sleepiness, which seems should be a solution, but really is not. The extreme sleepiness causes the patient to sleep a lot, which actually contributes to the fatigue.

Family members have to understand that their loved ones do not choose to be this way. No one likes feeling worn out and tired all the time, but for many sufferers, that’s exactly how they feel. They aren’t able to participate in family outings, aren’t able to do the things they once loved, and don’t have the energy for many other things like shopping, vacations, and even employment.

Those who suffer from fatigue brought on by fibromyalgia often feel as though they are trapped in a body that doesn’t belong to them. While their brain says one thing, their bodies simply refuse to listen and/or comply. Understanding why a fibro patient is tired is the first step in learning how to help them. Don’t question them if they say they’re tired.

Don’t accuse them of being “depressed” (even though many do suffer from depression) when they’re sleeping a lot. Be encouraging. Help them by doing things that might tire them out ordinarily. Spend time with them, and above all else, be understanding. Fibromyalgia fatigue is a real symptom of a very real disease.


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