We are strong in many ways. How we persevere. How we have adapted and coped with chronic illness. I know this for a fact, logically in my brain when I think about it. But emotionally is another story altogether.

Self-imposed stigma- weak

Society often compels us to push through the pain in order to function normally. We should pace. We should moderate. We should stay within our limits. We do need accommodation. But we also have to function in our lives so there is a balance we strive to maintain. Then there are bad days that ruin everything we work so hard for. Or other symptom flares like my bout of vertigo recently that just messed me right up.

When I fall…

Every time I fail to attain my own standards of what I should be I feel weak. I feel like I should be able to push through the pain, like people think I should be able to. And the guilt of that makes me feel substantially worse. I feel like I must be fundamentally flawed that I cannot handle this pain. When clearly I should be able to. I feel mentally and emotionally and physically weak. Like this is an inner flaw of mine not just a physical problem of mine.

No matter how many times my psychologist pointed out to me that no one else dealt with chronic pain or 24/7 migraines and fibromyalgia. That I was doing pretty damn good when you think about it. Along with dealing with the depression associated with that. Pretty damn good just wasn’t good enough for me. Because it wasn’t normal. It wasn’t perfect. It wasn’t where I wanted to be. Where my brain said I should be. Where society said I should be.

Fighting your body and striving to be something and failing is about the worst feeling a person can have.

And then I think ‘I’ll fix that.’

Like I am going to my doc to go on progesterone for the menstrual migraines. They are a problem. So ‘I’ll fix that’ I think. The dizziness and vertigo are clearly becoming an issue from the severe bout I had and three months of recurrent dizzy spells. And I think ‘I’ll fix that’ by asking my doc to up my meds. I go in next week. And I hope it works.

But if it helps… I won’t be perfect. Nothing will eliminate the pain or symptoms.

I’ll still have the same chronic migraine with auras. They will not poof out of existence. Still have the fibromyalgia. Still have the depression, that is being well treated, but still present to a lesser extent. I cannot achieve perfection. And every time I fail to do so. I am WEAK. I miss a plan. WEAK. I can’t get into work from that damned vertigo making me unable to walk or drive. WEAK. I feel depressed about it. Definitely WEAK.

And it is definitely a self-imposed stigma. Because it is the perception of those around us and society as a whole that have this stigma.

Why don’t you just push though the pain?

Why could you come in one day but not the other… just get in and do it!

You’re just hurting yourself by not coming in.

Everyone gets sad, sad isn’t a reason not to handle things.

You’re in pain all the time you should be able to just deal with it by now.

It is weak to take meds for depression, just treat it yourself

Only weak people get fibromyalgia/migraines/depression

Only people who cannot handle stress get fibromyalgia/migraines/depression

We internalize it and we feel weak for being unable to cope sometimes. And give ourselves NO CREDIT for all the days we cope well, or cope moderately well or feel horrid but do things anyway. No credit at all. But one missed step, and we feel that we are the worst person ever.

In another sense, I feel weak because I don’t feel strong. I feel like I am barely holding on. Coping the best I can day by day. But just barely scraping by.

I have to constantly remind myself I am improving in the right direction and that is a good thing. Maybe I’ll never be ‘normal’ levels of perfect. But I will be slowly improved pain management and that is the best that I can do.

See more about stigma

Mental illness: Stigma thoughts

When confronted with the lazy stigma

Self-stigma: The story we tell about ourselves is not true

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