Invisible Illness as an Excuse?

20 Feb

“You use that as an excuse for everything,” she said. We were on the phone, and I was struggling to speak, stumbling and just getting words wrong. She teased me about it, and I told her it was because of my fibromyalgia.

No, I don’t remember what I was trying to say. My memory isn’t always great because of my fibromyalgia (see what I did there?). But I’ll never forget that sentence. Sure, I’ve heard it and similar before, and I’ll hear it again, but this time it especially stung because she’s someone I’m very close to.

Besides the hurtfulness of the teasing and the comment, there was something fundamentally wrong with what she said.

It wasn’t an excuse.

An excuse is what you use to not do something. I was talking. I wasn’t using fibro as an excuse not to. She would have been much more accurate in saying, “You use that as an explanation for everything.”

It certainly is an explanation for a lot. It explains why I stutter or slur or mix up words, or sometimes my brain freezes and words just won’t come out. It’s like a computer when it freezes. I have to stand there and wait for a reboot before I can start talking again. This is especially inconvenient when I’m working as a speaker, and downright mortifying when I’m performing stand-up comedy.

It explains why I stumble and stagger. (Oh, you thought that and the slurring was from something else??) It explains why I drop things. (Yep, I’ve got insurance on my cell phone!!)

It explains why I suddenly get very quiet during social gatherings, or leave early, or cancel.

It explains why even after I sleep in or take a nap I’m still a groggy mess.

It explains why my emotions are all over the place sometimes and no rationality can get a handle on them.

It explains why my novel isn’t finished yet.

It explains why I don’t walk around my house barefoot.

I think you get the picture. It explains a lot.

But it is not an excuse. Again, excuses are what we use to not do things. I decided to continue performing stand-up despite fibromyalgia making it immensely more difficult. I decided to become a professional speaker after the onset of my fibro and went on to quit my job to do so.


I decide to get out of bed, put on shoes, and get out into the world with my dog. I’m working on my novel.

She may say I use my fibromyalgia as an excuse for everything, but the truth is, I use it as an excuse for nothing. That’s a decision I’ve made. That’s one thing I absolutely can control.



2 thoughts on “Invisible Illness as an Excuse?

  1. That’s so true. Even I stumble over words, forget what I am saying /supposed to say. My sons have told me so many times that I never finish my sentence. Anyway, fast forward, after doing pilates for 10 years, I am close to getting my certification. I also use fibromyalgia as an excuse for nothing.

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