I am in numerous support groups and I frequently see people asking about how they can convince their family or friends that their diagnosis or some symptom of it is real.
The thing is that we don’t owe our friends or family any amount of our medical information. Even our spouses. They are entitled to exactly zero percent. That’s the first thing to keep in mind here. We should only be telling people the amount we are comfortable with and then state “I don’t want to talk about that.”
They don’t need to believe us about our medical problems or understand or even know what’s going on with us medically. That’s not a requirement for a healthy relationship. What is required is that they respect our boundaries.
Let’s look at this with an example. I personally cannot be around bleach because the fumes make it so I cannot breathe. What I tell most people is “I can’t be around bleach, please don’t use it while I’m here.” Respectful people don’t use bleach around me without me needing to give any further explanation. I have drawn a boundary, they accept it and that’s a healthy relationship.
We don’t need to convince our friends or family of anything. We don’t need to present them with medical evidence or research or anything like that. We need to draw a boundary. If they don’t respect it we need to decide how important that boundary is. Breathing is very important to me, so in this case I’m going to always choose to keep this boundary. This may mean we need to have difficult conversations with people about boundaries and respect. It may mean we give ultimatums.
Keep this question in mind: do you want this person in your life if they do not respect you enough to honor your boundaries? For many of us, these boundaries are about our safety. Even if they don’t understand, it should matter to them that what they are doing makes us feel unsafe. If they don’t care that you don’t feel safe, do you really want them in your life?