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My 12 Commandments for Facing the New Year With Fibromyalgia

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It’s the second week of the new year and I am pottering around the house. I have decided to move things around just to make my lounge area different. I have a new dining table, and I am overjoyed as it’s the one thing I have missed in my house. I am in the process of removing my clutter. Lord knows the unopened mail and other paperwork need to go away. I have had extended periods of depression and my mail is collected and thrown at the nearest empty space. Anyone out there like that?

I am not one to make New Year’s resolutions or declare this is my year of this or the other. I have become weary of the month of January as I have always been diagnosed with something or the other. Every year I tried to declare “new year, new things,” the last five years things got worse. As we speak I have a breast screening due to the swelling of my armpit that is affecting my breast side. This is after a tough stance with my doctor about the pain and it being relegated always to fibro. I think I should be sent to the lymphedema clinic, but she argues. I am calm and at peace and sure I will be discharged to the team I have suggested. I tend to use January to clean my house, and set my house in order. I have two houses – my physical house and my spirit house. It means further withdrawing from people and finding a place to be centered to take on the year. 31 days of quiet.

Goals are another thing I don’t do. I have a general plan of what I want to achieve, usually two or three things divided into my passion writing, building myself up and relationships. I don’t deal with them in any particular order, given the variance of symptoms. I choose to wake up every day in a state of peace and geared to a productive day, even if it is just having a meal and a shower. One thing I quickly figured was the way I choose to think of my illness greatly helps my day. Some things are out of my control, I can only learn to swim and stand in them. The pain will not go away.

There is something about facing your own mortality and fibromyalgia that makes you want to keep things simple. The rat race has already taken me out of work and winter is tough on all of us. My priority is my health, managing my pain and flares and avoiding cabin fever. Depression is  something I am working on, to try and keep myself occupied so I don’t slip into those weeks that disappear and suddenly it is March. I then freak out and my inner critic starts a dance in my head. I have discovered opening my mouth and saying something shuts the pitchforked mini me.

My best friend and I had a conversation around Christmas time, and I explained to her, “I can accept fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, but depression I struggle with.” Fortunately she has gone down the road before me. She smiled at me and said, “Just because you have depression does not mean you are always sad and do not smile.”  Aha – in one sentence she relegates my strange belief into my recycle bin. Life has thrown everything at me and I am still here with a few ICD10 code numbers, courtesy of the diagnostic tool.

The New Year comes with hopes and dreams but we have to live in our reality. So what is my plan? The plan is:

1. Put yourself first

2. Learn to pace yourself

3. Forgive and be kind to  yourself

4. Work with your body as best you can

5. On pain days, just take a break

6. Have a plan

7. Write the plan and be flexible

8. Work it piece by piece

9. Live minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day

10. The future is uncertain and unpredictable, don’t be afraid to dream again

11. Find a time in the day just for yourself

12. Journal when you can – one day you will look back and see how far you have come

Happy New Year and don’t forget, ask for help – there are a few genuinely good people out there. May your year be filled with expectation and hope. Just do you!

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Photo via humanmade on Getty Images

Originally published: January 10, 2018
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