The Image of Autoimmune or “Invisible” Diseases – Is The Media Hurting Us?


I follow a group on Facebook called Fibro Colors Fibromyalgia Awareness. Often, posts from other followers are asked of the group and, this week, a post struck a nerve with me.

Someone asked if we were tired of seeing the Lyrica commercial (and this question could be asked of all pharmaceutical company commercials for the major drugs typically used to treat many chronic conditions, such as Humira). And my answer is definitely YES, though probably not for the reasons you may think.

While I can understand the desire for companies to advertise their products and put them in a positive light, these companies, inadvertently, are hurting those of us diagnosed with these conditions. The hurt is not physical pain. It is not a side effect from the medications. Instead, it is a false sense of a pill or shot or any type of medication that will take everything away. A miracle cure in a bottle that will eliminate all my symptoms and take me right back to the person I used to be.

While these medications can help reduce many symptoms and do make life a little more bearable, they are not a cure. I am not going to be able to pop a pill and go out and ride in a bike race tomorrow. Unless I am good at faking a smile (which, at this point, many of us are), I am not going to be all smiles and full of energy and ready to take on the world just from one simple pill. Arthritic hands are not all of the sudden going to able to open a stuck jar lid.

While I tend to tune out these commercials now, many “normal” people see these commercials and assume that I can be fixed. How many of you have had someone say “Well if you took that pill they talk about in the commercial, you would be fine.?”

I must admit I got excited when my favorite golfer Phil Mickelson announced his psoriatic arthritis diagnosis and began the Humira commercials. I thought, well at least now we have a real Spoonie in the advertisements and people can really see what it is like. Unfortunately, while Phil does suffer from psoriatic arthritis, the commercials only focus on the good days and we don’t tend to hear about when Phil is not doing good.

I would rather see a commercial that shows the good days and the bad. One that shows that, yes, this medication does help, but that it is not a cure. And that while these medications may work for some, they do not do anything for others suffering from the same condition.

Invisible illnesses and chronic conditions are already foreign to most people. To advertise medications that make it look like they are a miracle cure just makes it much more difficult for those of us that actually LIVE with these conditions.

Fibromyalgia, pain, Lyrica, Humeria, medications

We already deal with friends and family telling us that if we ate better or exercised more, we wouldn’t have these problems. That positive thinking and more prayers will cure us. Having the pharmaceutical companies advertising that one of these pills will make it all go away, just doesn’t help.

And it isn’t fair to those newly diagnosed with a chronic condition. Someone receiving a new diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis might see a Humira commercial and think that it’s no big deal. There is a treatment that will make it go away. A new fibromyalgia diagnosis means nothing if Lyrica makes it all go away and returns them to their old life.

I don’t know about you, but I would rather see these commercials feature real patients that suffer from the condition. Let them share their REAL stories of how they were before and how they are now, sharing the good and the bad. Everyone talks about “truth in advertising.” I think it is the time that we actually have that truth when it comes to our medications. This would help us as patients, as well as giving a better understanding to those that do not suffer from chronic pain and illness.


One thought on “The Image of Autoimmune or “Invisible” Diseases – Is The Media Hurting Us?

  1. Ashley Sears

    Thanks for writing this. I find those commercial so annoying. A newly diagnosed spoonie myself, and having known through a complicated family history of spoonie conditions that there is no magical pill the glazing over and smiley faces on those ads really gets me. It’s so important to help others understand that we do the best we can, but just because we are smiling doesn’t mean we are in pain. On the flip side, just because we aren’t smiling doesn’t mean we need “fixing” we are just doing the best we can to find the balance in our lives.


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