10 Do's and Don'ts When Your Loved One Has a Fibromyalgia Flare-Up

For those of us with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, “flare-up” is a familiar term. A flare-up is a sudden (or sometimes predictable) rise of multiple symptoms at once, causing extreme pain, physical and mental exhaustion. A flare-up can last hours, days, even months at a time.

The truth is, chronic pain bodies do what they want. A flare-up can be triggered by anything — a temperature shift, high stress levels, doing too much in a day, just getting dressed in the morning, taking a cab to work or just life itself… yup, it’s true.

As I discussed in my blog 25 Things You Should Know About People With Fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia can be really difficult to explain, but when a flare-up flares up, it’s a whole ‘nother animal.

The first time I had a flare-up I had no idea what was happening with my body. Every inch of me hurt. I couldn’t sit, stand or lay down without my entire body screaming in pain. From my eyelashes to my feet to my skin, to my muscles and joints, nothing felt right.

OMG! What the heck is going on? I thought. I was hospitalized right away and bedridden for eight days.

For me, a flare-up occurs most nights. This may be more frequent than average, but I keep a busy schedule.

Things can get pretty ugly during a flare-up, so I’ve started a list to raise awareness for how our loved ones and caretakers can flourish when a flare-up occurs. With your help, we can make this list even better.

Here is my list of 10 dos and don’ts that help me when I have a flare-up:

1. Don’t go into a catastrophic mindset. Keep a cool head. Your loved one will benefit from your calming energy. Yes, their body is retaliating; no, it won’t last forever.

2. Do let your loved one rest… a lot.

3. Do keep your loved one surrounded by heating pads and cool packs.

4. Don’t cook in the house until the flare-up is over — even if it’s your loved one’s favorite recipe, the smells can be nauseating.

5. Do spontaneously gift your loved one with nice, extra-comfy pajamas.

6. Do encourage your loved one to have their friends come over. Dress code: comfy pajamas.

7. Do help distract your loved one’s thoughts from their painful body by watching Netflix with them.

8. Do draw a bath for your loved one. Bonus if it’s infused with a clean scent like lavender or vanilla.

9. Don’t get into an argument with your loved one. Their short fuse just got shorter.

10. Do know that your loved one is so grateful for your compassion and tenderness.

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

A version of this post was originally published on The Huffington Post.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or mental illness. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Fibromyalgia

woman sitting on a rock with a river and skyline int he background

When People Expect Me to 'Get Over' My Fibromyalgia

The hardest thing I’ve had to deal with is the judgment and expectation of others. My journey started when I was 17 years old and I was not diagnosed with fibromyalgia until I was 21. Those four years were torture. I had no control over my body. It was as though I was trapped in [...]
woman riding bike in field

Why I'm Thankful the Doctor Embarrassed Me on My Diagnosis Day

It was the day I’d waited for. Finally an appointment with someone who may be able to help me understand the root of these endless migraines, the nausea and cramping, the burning muscles and debilitating lack of energy. The rooms were painted a sick off-white color and my chair scraped loudly as I sat down. [...]

To My Family On the Day I Feel Healthy Enough to Take Care of Them for a Change

It is a quiet Saturday morning in April. Rain falls softly outside, and the streets are covered with cherry blossom petals. Though all of you are sick with a virus, it is a good day. Today I am able to take care of you for a change. Today I feel OK. I have the strength [...]
Woman Rubbing Neck

25 Things You Should Know About People With Fibromyalgia

To honor National Fibromyalgia Awareness Day on May 12, I’ve been thinking about what aspects of the condition I could bring awareness to. What don’t people already know? The reality of fibromyalgia is not only that people tend to not know much about it unless they have it, but there are many who don’t even believe [...]