Change Your Words, Change Your Worth is the mantra used by Adam Braun, founder of Pencils for Promise. His story is about the language of business and how he found a creative way to engage with other prominent entrepreneurs and not lose them the moment he began discussing his non-profit organization. Braun realized very early on that the terminology he used could make or break the connections he formed in the business world. Those of us living in the world of Fibromyalgia have also found this same issue regarding the discussions we have about our health.
It's just a word
When we tell someone we have Fibromyalgia they tend to look confused because they have no idea what that is or bored because they don't believe it's a real medical issue. We see the blank stares and disbelief, whether we're talking to friends, family or our own doctors, we know we won't see any support or understanding from them.
Now, it you were to say you had MS or cancer you'd probably get a very different reaction. We all experience many of the same symptoms; depression, anxiety, migraines, extreme chronic fatigue, debilitating widespread pain and horrible bout's of nausea from the medications we need to take. MS and cancer however, are taken more seriously by the medical field and receive more media coverage and public awareness. There are also medical tests that can tell us if we do or do not have MS or cancer, we're still working in this area for Fibromyalgia.
Most medical conditions that do not have visible symptoms to those without the condition and a definitive medical test to prove its presence in the body have had to go through this process. Fibromyalgia is in its medical infancy. More research and education is needed before it is globally recognized. We'll eventually get there but it's immensely frustrating to those of us who need help now.
Changing your words
This isn't so easy with doctors because they know exactly what Fibromyalgia is and have a very distinct opinion about it but you can change your words to better communicate your needs. Educating yourself on your symptoms and the various treatments and therapies available will help increase your confidence when discussing your condition with doctors. Visualizing a positive outcome rather than expecting the worst when you enter a doctor's office will also help put you in a better state of mind before any appointment.
Most importantly, we must remember that doctors are human beings and human beings are not perfect. We all make mistakes and poor judgment calls in our lives. Doctors are no exception; they are only 'practicing' medicine after all. We cannot expect absolute perfection from them. So if we find ourselves in the office of an unsympathetic doctor, we just need to move on. It's all we can do. Our job is to find the right doctor, not concentrate on those who are not right for us.
With friends and family, we can change our words to make the realization of our conditions more of a reality to those in our lives who cannot understand what we go through. I tell people I have a chronic pain condition rather than just telling them I have Fibromyalgia and then having to take the time to explain what that means. I tend to get a more sympathetic reaction and don't feel like I'm trying to 'sell' my condition to my friends and family.
Simplicity seems to be the key when discussing Fibromyalgia with anyone other than doctors. If friends, family or colleagues ask for more information I'll explain that I have Fibromyalgia which is a neurological condition where my brain tells all parts of my body that I'm in pain. It's like getting hit everywhere and your brain never shutting off the pain nerves. The amount of pain can fluctuate in various areas but it never goes away which makes it impossible for me to carry on a normal life, this is why I don't work and have to rest so often. I leave it at that.
Keeping your needs in perspective
You should never feel obligated to convince others of the reality of your condition. If they need convincing, it is a waste of your valuable time and energy. We need to keep those who take us at our word close and those who can't at arms length. Our health is the most important and precious gift we have in our lives, we need to take care of ourselves first and consider others opinions second (if they're worth considering at all). By educating ourselves, practicing mindfulness and positive visualization and finding the words and language that works for each of us we gain the confidence and perspective we each need to be a true advocate for our own health.
It isn't about changing your words in order to change your worth in the eyes of others but changing your worth for your own eyes. This can bring about the changes in your health that you want to see and experience. Educate yourself, change your words and find your true self-worth.