“When I find certain thoughts recurring, I know it’s time to speak up.”02 February 2022
My name is Chris, I’m 21 and was diagnosed with fibromyalgia at 21. I also have hyperhidrosis and Gilbert’s syndrome.
Why is talking helpful for you?
When I find certain thoughts recurring, I know it’s time to speak up.
I find talking to my family and girlfriend extremely useful. My mum also has fibromyalgia, so there’s immediately a level of understanding which makes opening up feel very natural.
At work, there’s an open culture when it comes to mental health, and they encourage people to speak up.
If there’s anything I’m worried about, I know who I can speak to. There’s a culture to regularly check up on people.
For you, what are the challenges to opening up?
Opening up to male friends was more difficult, texting each other has always been fine, but face to face wasn’t always so easy.
Society puts a certain amount of pressure on young boys not to share their vulnerabilities. I went to an all-boys school where you were not encouraged to show your feelings or open up.
As I got older, this got easier and I’m very grateful for that.
What can be the benefits of talking to people?
- Speaking to others can help you to understand your condition and behaviour.
- The more conversations you have with people about how you’re feeling, and how your condition is affecting you mentally, the more people can understand you as a person.
- Even if they can’t make you feel better at that moment, they will have learnt something about how your condition makes you feel, and how to help in the future.
- People can surprise you. No-one can help you if you don’t give them a chance.
For anyone who is worried about opening up, what advice would you give?
- Take your time. It can be daunting or nerve-wracking at first, don’t worry if you’re feeling nervous.
- Go in with an open mind. Don't share with people expecting them to solve all your problems straight away. Listen to what they have to say and reflect on their advice.
- Seek a range of views. Talk to medical professionals, friends, family and use online forums. Everyone has different experiences in life, and these can help you develop a well-rounded support system.
- It’s a two-way street with friends and family. Consider how you can support others. Helping people can make you feel better about your problems. Particularly for people with chronic pain, sometimes you can feel like you aren’t useful to other people, but you can still be there for someone.
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