Learning to Manage My Fibromyalgia and Practice Self-Care
As a person living with fibromyalgia, peripheral neuropathy and degenerative disc disease, it is imperative I take certain steps in my life to manage my illnesses. I have been officially diagnosed with fibromyalgia for four years, and there is a lot of scary “new crap” that comes with it – costochondritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), anxiety, depression, etc.
In the beginning, I was terrified and practically unable to do anything, but I wasn’t going to go down without a fight – I overdid almost everything. I
was determined to hold on to my previous life. I miss the life I had, but I have embraced this new life and there are many opportunities to be the best person I can be to myself, my family and to others who struggle.
I had to learn how to pace myself, balance, move slower, eat better, think better, take care of myself better, adapt and adjust. The hardest part was, and still is, having my mind and my body on the same channel. I think many of us struggle to maintain our independence, our strength and our dignity.
I had to learn about self-care as if I was hearing these words for the first time. How I felt about myself, took care of myself and reclaimed a sense of order. It has enabled me to move forward with a sense of future and how to live better with these illnesses – an important component of all-around wellness.
I have tried many types of medication, physical therapy, doctors, treatments, etc. and I feel I will forever be evolving into the best version of me I can be. It seems like I look for new approaches every day. I will never stop fighting.
I have learned how to set boundaries for myself with my family and friends. I have overcommitted myself and suffered later. Back again to the mind-body connection. I can honestly say no, thank you for thinking of me, but I cannot. It does not always have to be all or nothing – there are times when I can compromise and go for a little while.
My biggest challenge has been how I view myself. I sometimes still think I am a shadow of who I used to be. Therefore, I have learned – and am still learning – ways to value myself instead of valuing the things I used to be able to do. I have challenged myself to learn new things – crochet, which is so relaxing, new cooking ideas – all gluten-free, quiet walks in the parks or woods, helping others – the homeless, children in hospitals, etc. An advocate for the Fibromyalgia Care Society of America.
I manage my challenges and my triggers, and the difficult part is sometimes identifying them. I have a small but amazing support system of friends and family. I still to this day find that most people do not understand chronic illness and get upset that I cannot attend functions, or continue to tell me how I should be managing my illness.
I have new strength, determination, focus and gratitude. When I am hurting, or having difficulties, I get quiet, have some anxiety, depression and ride it out for whatever amount of time it takes…but I come out the other side grateful and more resilient.
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Thinkstock photo via Purestock.