Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Trigger Happy

(There are a lot of aspects of friends and relationships to cover but today I'm going to stick with friends and short tempers and bad advice.)

A while ago, I talked with a friend of mine about the subject of befriending a Fibro Sufferer (or Fibromite as I've seen us called lately. Makes me giggle.) and what it means exactly.

She, being relatively healthy, and me being in a Fibro remission state but technically "unhealthy", it was a good conversation where no one threw a single punch! It was awesome. It was also good for the soul.

I joke about not throwing a punch because if there is one thing I've noticed about Fibro Patients is that we are notoriously trigger happy. And by that I mean that we snap at the silliest and most innocent comments that someone makes about us or our condition.

Now, as a Fibro Patient who has had to carefully reel in her anger tendencies, I'm well aware of just how many times in a day I am close to biting someone's arm off and beating them with it. I'll be honest with you my friends, I have gone after many a man or woman who did not deserve my violent attentions and in hindsight I realize that its very possible my fibro might have played a role in getting me past the boiling point and jumping in the fire.

Even now, as much as I would love to pretend I'm above such things, there are day where I have to take long showers and walks outside...and the gods help anyone I meet on the street that looks at me funny.

I'm not the only one like this. I've seen it for many years. Not all of us, but a good portion of us are a bunch of short-fused bombs.

Throw in a little bit of bad advice? And friends who were at one time close with us...can sadly be lost.

That isn't to say we're wrong every time we get mad. If someone who knows better than to suggest to us to take a couple of advil or rub Icy Hot on our legs and back, still suggests it in a manner that is insulting by all means punch 'em! (Just kidding!) Actually, those who mock your pain are not friends. Those who tell you every day that you need a few pills and you'll be right as rain every time you try to talk to them about how you're feeling?? They need to step down the ladder from friend to someone you talk to when you run into them and nothing more.

However, it is important that while we're talking about bad advice that we keep something in mind. We're hot heads. We sometimes don't realize we expect everyone to just shut up and listen to our list of aches and pains and how horrible things are for us today...this week...this month...this year. This is a slight exaggeration on my part...but can be how our friends view us.

But be careful. The need to constantly bend the ears of our friends may make them just as quick to snap over all the negativity as we are when they tell us we should take some aspirin and get a massage.

Sometimes our friends really are trying to help. For example: As mine said to me months ago... "Maybe you should try some advil."

My response?

"Advil? You're kidding right? Yeah.. I'll get right on that, and while the overdosing of advil chews away at my stomach and makes me run to the bathroom every time I eat something heavier than broth, I can think about how glad I am that I took something that can't possibly do anything for me and is keeping me from taking a legitimate pill because I broke the first "newb" rule of treating Fibro which is don't take advice about pain from someone who doesn't know pain!"

Okay that isn't verbatim but I hit all the "high" points of my rant. Needless to say the silence that followed made me wanna swallow my tongue. Hence the conversation about what is helpful and what isn't.

My friend told me this: "I know I don't know what you're going through, and I have no idea how to help you but to sit here and just nod my head makes me feel weak. You tell me you're in pain and how can I just say nothing? It's like when your spouse stands up from the dinner table and to use the bathroom and you ask them 'where you going?'. It's a stupid question but you say it anyway. I'm sick of feeling helpless when you sound like you're giving up or having a bad day. I have to say something!"

So, here I am, the Queen B*tch, sitting on my throne sucking on lemons.

When did I get so bitter? It was another deciding factor in my effort to get positive and keep my life moving forward into the light instead of the darkness of depression.

We had a better understanding of each other and now *I* have a few guidelines I use for friends I have or will make:

-I always make sure everyone I meet knows that I have Fibromyalgia. Some people look at me weird for "sharing" intimate knowledge but it's all in how you do it. "I'm sorry, I have a condition that makes me a little foggy sometimes. You may have to remind me of your name once or twice." Simple, without making the other person uncomfortable by saying "I have fibromyalgia, I hurt all the time so standing here talking to you is taxing and I probably won't remember your name either." LOL.. It took me a bit of practice to be diplomatic and not blunt.

-I promise not to break engagements over every little bit of pain I experience but when I'm really hurting...all plans are broken without attitude!

-I don't complain about pain in front of my friends unless I can't move or need assistance. It's okay to unleash but the more we do the more helpless our friends feel. Some friends don't mind... complain away but remember...some friends will also say they don't mind if you rant to them but over months or years start to distance themselves. As my sister constantly reminds me about one of her friends "He's never happy when I talk to him. I want to be there for him but its too much. I get depressed just talking to him anymore." Make sure this isn't you.

-I make a huge effort not to take advantage of anyone who listens well and I refuse to get into a pain debate (point counter-point style). You know the type. You say you're in pain and they have an answer for how you can fix it, you mention you have a headache too and they talk about how massages in the neck are "scientifically proven" to make a difference.. etc. Don't do it! lol.. It'll bring out the beast!

-I make sure that I ask how all of my friends are doing and what they are up to. When in pain and depressed it is really hard to remember that your friends might have something going on in their life too that they won't mention to you. They might feel as if it is inconsequential compared to your pain or that you'll view it that way and they'll stop thinking of you as a friend that they can turn to.

Again these are MY personal guidelines and everyone needs to make their own. Find out where your short-comings might be and save yourself from losing a few friends by making changes or amends. Know the difference between condescending jerks, a frustrated "feeling helpless" friend.

And most of all...easy on the trigger!! This goes double for me. :)
My best wishes for 98% days,

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