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14 'Normal' Things That Are Difficult When You Live With Fibromyalgia

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Do you ever struggle with brushing your hair? Cooking dinner? Doing laundry? These “normal” tasks your friends and family do easily can be difficult if you live with fibromyalgia. While something like walking up the stairs might be an easy task for someone else if you live with fibromyalgia, those flights may feel like climbing Mt. Everest.

Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain, as well as symptoms like fatigue and cognitive issues, sometimes referred to as “fibro fog.” All of these symptoms can make a relatively simple task much more difficult to accomplish. Fibro can make even showering complicated. The water pressure might cause pain or fatigue may set in if you are standing too long. No matter which task fibro makes difficult for you, know that it’s OK to listen to your body and take things at your own pace.

We wanted to ask our community what “normal” things they struggle to accomplish because of fibromyalgia. If the items on this list are difficult or overwhelming for you, you are not alone.

Here’s what The Mighty’s fibromyalgia community shared:

1. Cleaning

“The absolutely huge one for me is cleaning the house. I used to be a neat-freak. You’d find me cleaning weekly, if not more often. Now it’s a crap-shoot as to when or if I’ll get around to it. I try to space rooms out but if I get a flare, that room is put off to another day and it piles up. It’s overwhelming and I feel there’s no getting it back to the way I like it. I’ve tried so hard to get used to this new normal, but I cannot and I hate feeling like I live in squalor.” – Molly D.

“Cleaning. Cleaning is so hard. I literally have to sit in the floor and work a tiny corner at a time in order to attempt to get anything clean. If I work that day? It’s almost impossible to get the energy to try to clean a tiny portion of my room. Even washing clothes is hard. I can start a load but by time it’s time to put it in the dryer I’m already so tired. Sometimes even just brushing my hair during a flare is extricating.” – Madison M.

If cleaning is tough for you, check out these cleaning tips recommended by the Mighty community:

2. Getting Dressed

“Putting on socks! I don’t wear them half the time because it’s just impossible to do without being in pain.” – Dianne B.

Check out how these Mighty contributors handle getting dressed when chronic illness makes it difficult:

3. Driving

“Driving. I never dreamed that one day I would have to give it up, but I haven’t driven much in three years because of my symptoms. I feel incredibly guilty because of how this impacts my family.” – Sarah J.

Here are some tips if driving or riding in a car is a struggle for you:  

4. Walking

“Walking which involves basically most of normal activities such as grocery shopping, going to a mall to have a good time with friends, going to parties. Even walking my dogs is hell sometimes. (I’m a canine behavior specialist. Imagine how awful that is.)” – Caro A.

“Walking. If I’m on my feet for too long, my hips will hurt so bad I won’t be able to walk the next day.” – Barbara C.

“Walking. I get such bad pain in my feet from fibro, I can’t stand up sometimes.” – Gemma C.

If finding the energy to walk is a struggle for you, read these takes by Mighty contributors:

5. Showering

“Showering/washing my hair in the morning before work. I do it in the evening and then stay upstairs the rest of the evening. I don’t have the energy to do anything after a shower.” – Danielle C.

“Showering and washing my hair. I’m lucky if I wash my hair more than once a week. Shaving also! My sister has had to wax me and my mom has shaved me before. I hate it, but the last time I shaved I was in bed for two weeks.” – Meena N.

“Washing my hair! I go to a cheap salon down the street every Sunday morning for a shampoo/blow-dry so I don’t have to spend four hours laying on my bed after washing it myself.” – Kristen E.

If showering is a struggle for you, here are some relatable articles:

6. Cooking

“Cooking. “I struggle to lift anything now. It’s all done as best as I can by sitting down.” – Claire H.

If your relationship with food and cooking has changed due to living with fibromyalgia, read these stories by some Mighty contributors:

7. Grocery Shopping

“Grocery shopping is so difficult now! I often end up putting it off until I’m having a ‘better’ day or until my husband and daughter can help.” – Lori A.

“Grocery shopping. It usually takes me about an hour to shop, but after just five minutes, I’m having trouble walking and moving. It’s so painful. I could order online I guess, but I like to look down every aisle just to make sure I’m not forgetting anything.” – Joni W.

“Shopping. Just going around a small supermarket is too much at times. I always have someone with me now. I can’t remember the last time I did it alone.” – Bernie L.

If grocery shopping is a struggle for you, here are some relatable articles:

8. Using the Stairs

“Climbing up or down stairs. I get to the point where I need to start going up or down and I have to give myself a pep talk and muster up the energy I have left before I start.” – Kylie M.

If finding the energy to do things like climbing the stairs isn’t easy, read these takes from Mighty contributors:

9. Maintaining Relationships

“Making or maintaining friendships. It becomes too hard to make them understand your limitations. And you end up always explaining your condition all the time, so you just give up on having relationships with people that don’t believe you.” – Brandi J.

“I struggle with having a social life. Working full time and doing my best around the house really takes it out of me. I can barely make it sometimes.” – Chauntayna M.

If you need help balancing relationships and fibromyalgia, check out these articles:

10. Using the Restroom

“[It’s] gross, but going to the loo for a number two. It feels like you have to be some kind of contortionist trying to get clean! Then when you finally manage, you leave looking red-faced, sweaty and in pain.” – Dianne B.

If using the bathroom takes a toll on you, look to these articles for insight:

11. Yard Work

“Any sort of yard work. I struggle to mow the lawn, trim bushes, etc. Anything that a ‘normal’ person should be able to do to upkeep their home.” – Chelsea L.

“Yard work and house cleaning. I can never finish before the pain and fatigue sets in. It’s a never-ending battle.” – Lori M.

If you want to connect with nature in a way that won’t use up all of your energy, check out these suggestions: 

12. Sleeping

“Sleeping. I wake up several times a night because I just HURT.” – Mary Kate W.

If sleeping with fibromyalgia is difficult, check out these tips:

13. Communicating

“Talking. I often stumble over words, forget words, phrases, etc. [I] forget how to say a word or I’ll try to speak, but what comes out is jumbled salad or no sound at all. It can take a lot of effort to get a three-word sentence out even sometimes.” – Cai H.

If fibro fog causes you to struggle with speech, here are some articles you might relate to: 

14. General Hygiene

“Daily self-care can be a challenge. There are days when I don’t have the energy to take a shower, brush my teeth, even brush my hair. I think I have two to three days a week (on a good week) when I can do all three, but most of them aren’t ‘good’ weeks.” – Stephanie O.

“Brushing my teeth. Some days I just can’t hold my arms up long enough to do it. Have cried before as so want them to be clean.” – Panda W.

Want to simplify your hygiene? Here are some hacks that can help you keep things quick and simple:

Though many of these things can be difficult if you live with fibromyalgia, please know that it’s OK to ask for help. If you are struggling, please reach out to someone you trust and let them know you may need some assistance from time to time. You can even show them this list to help them understand your challenges.

To learn more about living with fibromyalgia, check out the following stories:

Originally published: June 20, 2019
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