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Advice for Friendly Support

How do you  feel supported?  “I am too tired to figure it out!” “If they loved me, they would know how!” “The fog is too thick to know.”

Here is a great list of things that you can pick from to give to your loved ones. If you are a loved one, give this list and find out which ones would feel supportive to them.  I know that when I am in the midst of a flair up, it is difficult to know what I need.  The pain and fatigue is all consuming and it would be difficult, if not impossible for me to be this articulate.

When faced with suffering, it is natural to want to fix it, to stop it.  If you could, then I say great!  But since you probably can’t, otherwise everything would be “fixed” and you would not be reading this, these attempts discount and frustrate.  One of the difficulties of chronic pain is the isolation. I got my friends to agree to last minute cancelations that way I could still make plans and feel included and if I just couldn’t do it that day, I could cancel.  Depending on the plans, sometimes my friend(s) would just come over to watch television instead.

This list comes from an article on Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association Website By: Lisa Lorden

What ones resonate with you?

  • Educate yourself about fibromyalgia.  Read articles about personal experiences and coping.
  • Be patient and caring.  Reassure your friend of your love and support.
  • Acknowledge the seriousness of the illness.  Validate feelings of loss, sadness, anger, and hope.
  • Offer to help in practical and specific ways; such as grocery shopping, managing finances, running errands, or household chores.
  • Attend doctor’s appointments with your friend.  Show interest in their medical care and be there to provide moral support.
  • Most people with fibromyalgia both love and hate hearing “you look good.”  It’s okay to say it, but understand that looking good doesn’t necessarily mean your loved one feels good!
  • Spend time together, enjoying activities that can be modified if necessary.
  • Make plans flexible to accommodate unpredictable symptoms and fluctuating energy levels.  Be understanding when they must be changed or canceled at the last minute.
  • Be wary about giving advice.  Don’t attempt to “fix” the person with FM or provide a solution.
  • Realize that your loved one may seem “okay” while you’re together but then pay an enormous price later for the over-exertion.
  • Ask questions about things you don’t understand.
  • Enjoy low-energy activities together; such as watching movies, sitting outdoors, and eating meals together.
  • Express gratitude for what the person with FM still gives to you, even though they may not be able to do some of the things they could before.
  • Reassure them about how important they are in your life.
  • When you are not sure about how to be helpful, just ask.
  • Be aware of unpredictable mood swings.  Try not to take reactions personally that might seem illogical or over-emotional.
  • Talk about the changes in the person with FM and in your relationship together.
  • Listen while your friend expresses needs, emotions, and thoughts.
  • Express your admiration for your loved one’s strength in coping with illness so far.
  • Learn to be perceptive.  You don’t have to be a mind-reader, but you can watch for signs of how your loved one is feeling, or when they may need extra help and support.
  • Stay in touch and extend invitations, even when the person with FM may not be able to accept.

Most important to remember is that just being there and showing that you care means more than you could imagine.  Don’t give up–just keep asking, listening, learning and growing.  Although you may not be able to work magic, the little things you do to show you care can make all the difference.  “The hardest thing is not to be able to work magic for a friend.” – Maya Patel

For full article:   Some Friendly Advice