Dear Barb—Chronic Control

Dear Barb:

Hi, recently I’ve been diagnosed with fibromyalgia.  It was a total relief to finally put a name to what is wrong with me.  The problem I’ve been having is that most of my family and friends think my illness is all in my head.  Since fibromyalgia is one of those illnesses that are diagnosed through the process of elimination, it’s difficult for them to believe that I really am sick.  I am exhausted from trying to explain what fibromyalgia is, now I just tell everyone to Google it.  I know it shouldn’t bother me, but it does.  Unless you are in bed with a fever or puking your guts out, no one thinks you are sick! Why can’t people accept that someone is ill, even though they can’t see it? Do you have any suggestions on how I should handle this without getting upset? Help, Kristin.

Hi Kristin:

Unfortunately, it is difficult for people to believe something they can’t see, and they don’t know how it feels to be you.  There are many ways to handle this.  Your initial approach, that they Google fibromyalgia is an excellent start.  You could also offer to send them an email with a link that describes your illness and its effects.  Reactions will differ, you will encounter people who will offer advice on various ways to heal your illness.  They may suggest natural remedies, or a doctor who healed a friend with the same condition as you.  At this point mention that you have your own doctors and you are happy with them.  Thank them and change the subject.  If they persist, choose to politely leave their company.  There is a lot of information online about dealing with chronic illness.  The eBook 7 Stages of Grief of Chronic Illness by Katherine T.  Owen is available online for free and it contains most of the information you will need.  Best of luck Kristin.

Dear Barb:

I have a few people in my life who are very controlling and I’m having a difficult time dealing with them.  They are close family members who want me to live my life according to their rules.  My son, for instance does not like my ex boyfriend, so he wants me to remove all reminders of him from our house.  I don’t want to do that, I feel he was a part of our past and I’m fine with his pictures and other items are in our home.  My son has even given me an ultimatum that if I don’t remove the items he will move out.  I love my son and don’t want him to move out, but I don’t feel I should have to modify my life to suit him.  What do you think? Thanks, Katherine.

Hi Katherine:

I agree you do not have to modify your life to suit someone else.  It is your house and you can decorate it as you please.  When your son has his own home, he can decorate it however he likes.  Controlling people try to make others fit into their reality.  If you allow this to happen you will lose your own sense of reality.  As hard as it is to do, you need to set boundaries.  Don’t be afraid to say no to your son, if he chooses to move out, that is his choice and his reality.  He needs to respect you and the choices you make for your life, as much as you need to respect the choices he makes for his life.  So don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself.  The people who want to be a part of your life, will respect your right to be who you are.  Thanks for your letter.