Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and People (A series on surviving Chronic Pain)
If you have Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and/or Chronic Illness you know it! If you don’t have it you probably know someone who does or you have at least heard of it. If you are like me, some people in your life believe you and are supportive, some have no idea what Fibromyalgia or Invisible Illness is and want more information, some have seen the commercials that say, “I took this pill and now my life is back to normal”, that’s inevitably followed by, “why don’t you get your doctor to give you that?”. There are the ones who think it’s all in your head and are quick to advise you, “if you would just get out more”, “you just need a job, so you don’t have so much time to focus on yourself”, or “if you would just exercise, eat right, loss weight, or so on and so on! 🙄 We spend almost all our time educating; ourselves, our doctors, and others and it’s exhausting! It’s not a wonder with all that explaining and educating we have no energy left for anything else. So I want to encourage you to stop trying to explain and educate, refer all those “well wishers” to sites like this for education, and start taking care of YOU!
Having had Chronic Fatigue, Fibromyalgia, Invisible Illness, and Chronic Pain for at least 17 years; I’ve spent my fair share of time trying to get others to understand, except, and educate themselves and I’ve finally figured out if they want to know and understand they will put in some time into finding out. And if they just want me to educate them or listen to their uneducated and, might I add, unsolicited advice they really don’t have a desire to help, usually just judge and it’s not worth my time and energy to try and make them understand. I have me to take care of and it’s high time I started putting me and my wellbeing first. Let them think what they want, say what they may, or advise away; I have two ears, so it goes in one ear and out of the other. Most of the time with a healthy eye roll added in 🙄🙄!
The first thing I have learned, most people sincerely want to know, understand, and help. However, most can’t or won’t ever understand or try to. I’m thankful that most will never understand, because to truly understand, you have to live Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Invisible Illness, and/or Chronic Pain and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, ever! It’s a lot to bear, daily, day in and day out. To see the life you’ve built to disintegrate, slowly or like me in a matter of seconds, right in front of your eyes. It’s heartbreaking and one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done and I’ve had many difficult things to deal with in my life. That’s true for most of us with Chronic Pain and Illness, life seems to have extra twist and turns for us. Most of us have been the victim of abuse, be it physical, mental, or emotional. Everyone I’ve talked to and everything I’ve read seems to point to an earlier trigger that set us up for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Invisible Illness and/or Chronic Pain. Whether it’s childhood abuse, like mine, or an abusive relationship in adulthood it seems like a prerequisite. I can’t think of anyone living with this invisible monster that hasn’t had some type of trigger earlier in their life. If that’s not your experience please leave me a comment or send me an email and tell me your experience, I would love to hear about it and I won’t share without your permission.
So number one on Surviving Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, Invisible Illness, and/orChronic Pain, take care of YOU! This is probably one of the hardest parts, since we all appear to be caregivers and not much into self-care. I don’t think it’s that we don’t want to take care of ourselves, but it’s foreign to us. Taking care of others comes naturally and self-care seems, well selfish to us. But it’s NOT selfish at all! That’s a point I can’t drive home enough and something I didn’t learn until I found myself at a crossroads, almost to mental and emotional breakdown, before I learned it was okay to go for a walk, get a massage, or go for a drive by myself, for myself! I spent thirty odd years feeling responsible for everyone and everything. I don’t know if this is a personality trait, a learned behavior, or a coping mechanism; but it’s for sure something we all seem to have in common. And something we all have to get past, if we ever want to get better!
I learned through the longgggg process, not only to take a walk, get a massage, go for a drive, but that if I need extra sleep, I sleep. If I need to lay on the couch and watch movies, I do. If I need to sit in a hot bath for hours on end, then I sit in the bath, or better yet the hot tub! If I want to escape life for a while, I read, just because and it gives my brain an escape to another world or another time and I no longer care who approves or disapproves of what I’m reading or doing! It’s about me, NOT them! Take some time to find out what your body, mind, and spirit are asking for and give it to yourself! It’s a gift I promise you will not regret and vital if you ever want your life back! Am I saying you will ever get back where you were before, NO. Once your out of there, why in the world would you ever want to go back? I don’t want to ever feel responsible for how everyone feels, what they think, or why they act the way they do or say the things they do. Being responsible for yourself is freeing and I for one will not go back into that bondage ever again! If you can just do that, you are already on the road to healing. And when you set that cornerstone it is the first in the course for rebuilding your life.
This is the first of a weekly series of articles on Living Well With Chronic Illness. Some articles will be based on my personal experience, some on the best exercises I’ve found, how to lose weight with Chronic Pain and Illness, overcoming depression and anxiety, medication and supplements, self care, and a whole host of topics to help you live well with Chronic Illness.
Next week: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Pain and Exercise (A series on surviving Chronic Pain)