When I started writing this blog I wrote a little piece about who I am and what I would be writing about. I wanted to discuss issues related to fibromyalgia from a male perspective. Aside from the symptoms that can solely be experienced by women there haven’t been many things I’ve experienced that are different for men.
Invisibility is a massive problem for everybody, male or female. I’d imagine all of us with fibromyalgia have gone to receive test results wishing that something, anything, is found that is not too serious but will allow us to scream to everybody, “SEE! I TOLD YOU IT’S F***IN’ REAL!”
One area that a difference may arise is through the psychological impacts of fibromyalgia. I’d love to say that I understand the female mind but years of friendships and relationships have brought me no further than the fact you are strange and wonderful creatures who continue to beguile me.
On the other side is there a stereotypical male mind-set? Does that exist? I never really considered this before but I suppose I wanted to point out with this blog that even though the ratio is 90:10, men still get fibromyalgia. Some people say that it only affects men who are overly sensitive but the truth is that fibromyalgia, as I’ve said many times, is an equal opportunities employer. Whether you work on the go all day as a builder, you work in an office from 9-5 or you do little or nothing all day it doesn’t matter; anybody can develop fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia has had many impacts on me. It has affected my health, my finances, my relationships but the biggest change has been psychologically. I was a confident (some may say overly confident) young man who trusted his intuition and had complete faith in his decision making. Take that young man out of work for over two years and where do I find myself? I’ve lost faith in my decision making to the point where getting dressed takes an age. I check with people to make sure I’m giving a good response to questions and I’ve been humbled to the point where I sometimes feel my opinions have no value.
For reasons unknown a feeling that I’m failing as a man has grown over the past two years. Somewhere deep inside me is the thought that everyone earns their keep with fair pay for a day’s work. I feel guilty for accepting hand outs from the government even though they are actually benefits I’m fully qualified to receive. I need that money to pay bills, buy food and every so often buy something from the ‘want’ rather than the ‘need’ list. I have to get these payments to live but they eat away at my sense of accomplishment and my self-worth.
I’ve beaten myself up for not working and earning my keep these past two years. I know I’m tiptoeing into dangerous old-fashioned gender divides and it needs a much bigger examination but I’m just starting the debate. This post is a form of talking out loud for me and if it doesn’t read as a beginning, a middle and an end, that is because I don’t know where this post will lead. I’d love to hear other people’s opinions.
Do many men read my blog? Do you continue to work with fibromyalgia? Do you struggle with self-worth while collecting state benefits? Let me know your thoughts and I’ll follow up on this topic based on those responses.