Most everyone with fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome knows that they must pace their activities and avoid overexertion, even on a good day. Yet, this philosophy that is so essential for living with these syndromes also requires your family to work harder to make up for your limitations, which may cause feelings of guilt.
“The issue of excessive guilt is so universal,” says Connie O’Reilly, Ph.D., a therapist in Oregon who counsels many patients with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. Although many people struggle with feelings of guilt, O’Reilly adds, “This issue happens to be particularly poignant when one has a chronic illness.” Why? You are forced to witness the people you love working overtime to do extra household chores and take over many roles in the home that were once your responsibility.
You should be comforted by the following comments made by Thomas Fuller, Ph.D., of Grand Rapids, MI: “Guilt is a sign that you have a conscience, and it is letting you know it is there. People with little conscience act selfishly, and without concern for their impact on others … If you feel guilty about your impact on others, then you are psychologically more healthy, actually.” The trick is to better understand the sources of your guilt and develop ways to control these feelings so that they do not become destructive.
Hopefully, the statements above by the two counselors will help ease your struggle with this difficult emotion of guilt. In addition, there are many methods you can use to gain control over these feelings.