Understanding Fibromyalgia Stigma
Fibromyalgia is a challenging condition to grasp since it presents a list of symptoms that are difficult to identify and harder to describe.
Now, imagine trying to understanding fibro if you have never had it. You hear about a wide range of symptoms and a lack of accurate testing to diagnosis the condition with certainty.
You also hear about the strong relationship between fibro and mental health concerns — those having higher levels of anxiety and depression with fibromyalgia can have aggravated fibro symptoms. All of this information could lead others towards a flawed conclusion of the condition and its relationship with mental health concerns.
Then there is the information that has no grounding in reality. There are people who believe this misinformation and stigmatize people with fibro.
Stigma is a powerful force. Put simply, stigma is a negative, unwanted, and invalid label put on a person or a group of people based on a trait they possess.
At times, the stigma can be a very general idea, like “fibromyalgia is a fake condition.” It can also be very specific, like “people with fibro are liars and they are abusing the system to stay sick.”
Rather than being confronted with one stigma, many groups have multiple stigmas to contend with. Obviously, this leads to a more complicated battle to correct the distorted ways of thinking.
As if the physical and psychological burdens of fibro were not enough, now you have the stigma to manage as well.
If you think the fight against stigmatization does not include you, think again. Everyone with fibro will encounter some negative experiences due to the stigma surrounding it at some point.
From family and friends to doctors and other professionals, stigmas exist in all areas. Being active and preventative allows you to gain more power and control over the circumstances and the stigmas.