‘To thine own self be true’: great advice from The Bard for fibromyalgia sufferers


For the desert island that is fibromyalgia –  it’s a bit heavy, you may need a Man Friday.

In true fibro-style this post comes after the event: the 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. But only a few days after.

Missing this self-imposed deadline made those all too familiar feelings of failure and guilt threaten to spoil my days and probably ruin my week. Yet, ironically, this predicament was the complete opposite of the inspiration within the one quote I had planned to share.

This above all: to thine own self be true

Advice given by Polonius to his son Laertes in Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 3, Line 83

Written on a fridge magnet souvenir from a trip to Shakespeare’s Birth Place and as the motto of the secondary school where I trained to be an English teacher, those eight words with the power of iambic pentameter had seeped into my subconscious.

Back then I truly believed I was being true to myself; I could have it all: professional career, family, prospects… in reality, little bits of everything. I certainly quoted it often to my students, mostly the girls. The fictional guidance of father to son had become actual guidance from female teacher to female student. What power!

Once fibromyalgia had freed me from the shackles of employment and the ability to physically care for others the full power of this quote struck me.

As my fibro-self I fully live by this mantra each and every day.

To live well, when you have a chronic illness, you have to accept your situation and recognise your values. And because we have little time and energy we have to focus on what really matters – our ‘true’ values and put them ‘above all’. To our own selves we must be true:

  • We get to know our minds, bodies and souls profoundly
  • We listen to our bodies and learn to say NO to things that will overload us – we know the consequence of yes is PAIN
  • Through mourning what we can no longer do we learn what is most important to us

As the universal theory of literature, so derided in my university years, dictates: Shakespeare speaks to us all and especially to us, my fibro-friends.

So in celebration of 400 years since the great man’s death…

To your own self be true and positively live with fibromyalgia




2 thoughts on “‘To thine own self be true’: great advice from The Bard for fibromyalgia sufferers

  1. Barbara Marincel

    Oh, how I needed this today! Thank you for pointing out the positive aspect of the loss of dreams that comes with fibromyalgia…it’s so easy to forget that something so good can come out of something so painful.


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