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How I Cope When Both My Fibromyalgia and Anxiety Flare

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I love being around people. I love going out and adventuring and trying new things. I love having fun. Just give me a couple days after to recover physically and mentally from the toll it takes on my body and my illnesses.

As someone who struggles with anxiety, running one errand by myself can be enough to make me want to lay in bed for the rest of the day recovering. Hanging out with friends is fun while it lasts but sometimes I can reach my mental limit pretty quickly. Sometimes I don’t even realize I have hit my limit and then I am knocked on my butt for the next few days trying to recover. My favorite thing I am told during this time is “If you had enough energy to hang out with your friends, you have enough energy to (insert chore or errand here)” when in all actuality, I used all my energy and then some on hanging out with my friends. I don’t have an endless supply and I can run out very easily depending on the day and/or the activity.

As someone who struggles with fibromyalgia, I can be in pain all the time or it can just show up at random times in random places and cause me to cancel plans or lay in bed all day after planning to spend that day cleaning and being productive. I can be in a flare for seemingly no reason at all and even though I am sitting on my bed watching TV or playing on my phone, I am not choosing to do that. It’s what my body can handle. Sometimes, I will go out with friends and have to take a day or two after that to recover from how stiff and sore my body is – even if all we did was go out to dinner or go to the beach and lay in the sand.

Because I struggle with both of these things, it’s even harder for me to get out of bed and be productive every single day. If I do too much, I can overwork my body and my mind and be out of it for several days. My parents can ask me to do the dishes and I will wait a long time before getting them done. It’s not because I am lazy and would rather be in bed. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I adore my bed and might even marry it if I wasn’t already engaged to an actual person. But I would rather be productive than lay in bed all the time. At this point after already doing what my body considers “a lot,” I am just too overwhelmed physically and mentally to stand for the amount of time required to do the dishes. I am too stiff to bend over to grab the plates and pans on the bottom rack. My head hurts too much to listen to dishes clanking together as I put them away. I want to get that done when I am asked. I just know that I am not done recovering from the last thing I did.

Whenever I have something emotionally triggering happen to or around me, I get worked up and then after it’s all over, I get extremely exhausted. This can also cause my physical problems to worsen. I can develop a migraine from being so worked up or stressed out, or my pain level in my body can go up and my back or something else can hurt out of nowhere. Likewise, if I am in a fibromyalgia flare, my anxiety gets worse and I become more irritable and I cry a lot and panic even more than usual. I begin thinking I am just in the way at work because I can’t move as fast as the other people and I start to think that everyone is just counting down the days until I leave. My anxiety tells me all these awful things about myself when I am in a flare and it’s extremely hard to get out of it.

Some things that have helped me with these seemingly endless and completely exhausting flares are:

1. Talking on the phone with my friends – people I know actually care for me and like being around me.

2. Watching “Friends” for a good laugh. (Or whatever show you love that always makes you smile.)

3. Retail therapy! This probably isn’t always the best way to cope since my bank account gets sad every time it happens, but I think every once in a while is totally fine!

4. Reading. I absolutely love to read. I get so lost in my books that I can forget which life is real and I start daydreaming about the world in my book while I am at work.

5. Pinterest! I may have only tried four out of the thousands of pins I have made, but it is still so much fun to go on there and just pin things to boards that may inspire you now or later on. Occasionally, I will actually try something I have pinned and doing that makes me super happy because it makes me feel productive. Plus, you either get a super yummy food out of it or a fun lil craft.

6. Taking a nap. Nothing fights being sick or being in a flare better than taking a good nap and getting some quality rest.

These methods may not work for everyone, and they may not work every single time either, but they have helped me a lot with coping with flares and trying to calm myself down. It can be really hard to stay calm when your body and mind feel like they are falling apart and fighting with each other. I am still working on that myself. I hope some of these methods work for you. They have definitely helped me so far.

Originally published: August 19, 2018
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