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When Grief and Emotional Stress Aggravate My Fibromyalgia Symptoms

I’ve been wanting to write this for a couple of weeks now, but have been in a massive flare and unable to do much at all. The reason? Grief.

It’s something we all experience and it affects each and every one of us differently. My aim here is to share with you how it feels to go through it with fibromyalgia. Of course, none of us are the same, even if we share a diagnosis, so this is simply a personal account that I hope will illustrate to non-chronics some of the reasons we fibro peeps may struggle so much with loss and emotional pain.

I want to clarify that although I’m discussing the effects of grief and fibro combined, this does not mean that I’m saying my grief or the grief of anyone with chronic illness is worse than that of a healthy person. It’s merely an observation about fibromyalgia and one of the many external factors that can have an effect.

Here it goes.

So, we recently had two family bereavements in the space of two days, which was completely awful. As well as dealing with my own feelings, I am seeing some of those that I love most in the world hurting and suffering.
This is more than ever, a time when I want to be useful and to look after my family members who are in pain. However, fibromyalgia has other ideas.

The inevitable crying, stress, and tension that follows these tragic events aggravate all of my fibro symptoms.

So far, I’ve had endless migraines, tons of muscle spasms, extra nerve pain and panic attacks.

Stronger, negative emotions = increased physical pain of all kinds.

For a really long time, I had a problem with admitting how much emotional stress could affect my physical wellbeing.

Now that I have let go of that particular hang up, it is a little easier to talk about my mental health and how it is intrinsically connected to my physical health. This may not be the same for everyone, but I know that for me if I’m upset, my fibro will flare.

When my family is going through such an awful time, I do wish I felt better than this so that I can do more for all of them, but I guess I have to look after myself first. It almost feels selfish, but I am acutely aware that I don’t have much of a choice when every part of my body is seizing up or in agony.

I have written before about how I think fibromyalgia and hypersensitivity go hand in hand and I’m sure that contributes to the flares also. Sensory overload, plus picking up on the emotions of others is definitely a factor for me. When I’m around people who are experiencing powerful emotions, I tend to pick up on those and the weight of that on top of my own grief is overwhelming.

Unfortunately, there’s not much that we can do about it because grief is an unavoidable part of life. The only advice I could give to anyone reading this would be to rest as much as possible and try to relax at the end of the day. For me, that means listening to podcasts and my favorite music because when I’m in a flare I’m not able to concentrate.

I’d love to hear the things that you all do to help with flares caused by grief, and if you are in that situation at the moment, I’m sorry for your loss.

Take care of yourselves and thanks for reading.

Getty Image by pei wen cheah