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The Truth About 'Superwoman Days' When Living With Fibromyalgia

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Somedays, I feel like Superwoman.

Now, to be clear, a Superwoman day for someone with fibro might seem like a pretty typical day for someone without a chronic illness. But for me, knowing that I fought through pain and fatigue to accomplish something makes me feel like I am Superwoman. Throwing my son a birthday party, attending a multi-day conference for work, taking the family on a weekend getaway — it takes nothing short of Superwoman strength and will to accomplish these things, to push the pain aside and pretend your body is healthy, even if just for a day. On these days, I give myself a pat on the back for overcoming the disease, and I allow myself a moment to tell myself that maybe it’s not so bad after all. Or, maybe it is, but it’s OK because today I am Superwoman.

But here are a few truths I’ve learned over the past year about Superwoman days:

1. The emotional high of feeling like I’ve gotten the upper hand on this disease for a day or two is always followed by the deep emotional pain of realizing that this is a fight I am always going to lose in the long run. Superwoman days are always the result of having pushed myself too far and too hard, which means that the following few days will be filled with intense pain and fatigue. This inevitable reminder that my body is failing me always hits harder after I’ve allowed myself the false comfort of pretending that everything is OK on a Superwoman day.

2. On Superwoman days, I tend to make too many promises, to both myself and others, that I can’t possibly fulfill. On these days, I allow myself to pretend like maybe I can keep dreaming my big dreams and that maybe I can keep living my life the way I had always planned. On a Superwoman day, I’ll RSVP yes to that party or take on a new project at work. I might even whisper to myself, “see, you can still do all the things you had planned, you just need to push yourself a little harder.” I might even smile and believe it for a moment, thinking of ways I’ll keep myself more “motivated” and “inspired” to keep up this pace of life. And then, just like every time before, the next flare-up will hit, usually even harder than last time, and my body will feel like its moving through mud, and my brain will feel like its swimming in a haze. Again, I’ll find myself spiraling down the emotional rollercoaster and kicking myself for allowing that one good day to give me such false hope for what life might actually be like all the time.

So the question I continue to wrestle with is, how can I learn to enjoy those Superwoman days, the euphoria of feeling accomplished, the pride in being the mom my children deserve, without also setting myself up for the emotional and physical pain that follows.

Part of me feels like I need to learn to keep things as balanced as possible. And that even on the Superwoman days, I need to keep a clear focus on my reality, so that I don’t overexert myself and coming crashing down afterward. But, there is also a part of me that longs to feel healthy again, longs to dream about the possibilities of what the future holds, and so desperately just wants to be able to believe I am Superwoman, even if it’s only for one day.

Getty image by Treemouse

Originally published: September 18, 2018
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