‘…It’s not good news…’ – what your diagnosis actually means

Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Pain Management

Hands up who heard this or something similar when being diagnosed with fibromyalgia? Hands up who also wanted to roll their eyes when they heard it?

Look, as chronic pain sufferers, we knew it wasn’t going to be great news. The constant pain with no clear explanation was a bit of a giveaway. Good old Doctor Google had already thrown up a fair few ‘this is it’ moments (we’ve all done it), so we were already resigned to the fact that our diagnosis wasn’t going to be the best news we’d ever heard.

But it always gets me thinking. How much does that initial diagnosis impact the way we cope with our condition going forwards? And how can we interpret ‘not good news’ more positively?

Interpreting your Diagnosis

I’m not here to give you an English lesson, so I’ll keep this bit short and sweet (honest!). Language and perception are irrevocably linked. We’ve all heard the saying ‘It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it’ plenty of times before. You may have even said it (shouted it?) yourself on the odd occasion. But it does hold a lot of truth.

The way things are said can have a significant impact on how they’re perceived. Take a look at the examples below, they’re all things we may have heard about our condition. Taken at face value, they’re usually perceived in a pretty negative way. But there are plenty of ways to look at our diagnosis differently:

1. There’s no cure 

Initially perceived as: Great, I’m stuffed.

Interpreted positively: There’s no cure, but there are plenty of things I can do to manage my condition and live a happy life.

2. You won’t be able to do certain things 

Initially perceived as: Great, I’m even more stuffed.

Interpreted positively: I may not be able to do certain activities, but there are plenty of things I can still enjoy. I may even pick up some new hobbies and activities that I previously wouldn’t have considered.

3. You just have to live with the pain 

Initially perceived as: Just when I thought I couldn’t be more stuffed…

Interpreted positively: Pain may feature in my life, but it doesn’t control it.

What I’m saying here is receiving a diagnosis for fibromyalgia is bloody hard. It can feel incredibly unsettling. It can feel frustrating, hopeless, daunting, confusing. All of the above.

Even the language attached to our condition is negative. No cure. Pain. Fatigue. It’s no wonder we perceive our condition this way when everything associated with it seems so – for want of a better word – shit.

But taking our diagnosis, accepting it and interpreting it in a way that isn’t quite so frightening can have a considerable impact on the way we’re able to deal with it.

As a fellow fibro warrior, it’s a lesson I’ve learnt over the years and while I won’t lie and say living with fibromyalgia is easy, it certainly isn’t the end of the world.

If you’re struggling to come to terms with your diagnosis and would like some support in managing your pain (or just a chat!), please do not hesitate to get in touch.

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