I was just reading an article that mentioned Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a treatment for Fibromyalgia. The part that caught my attention was:
In this study, similarly, CBT sessions were designed to help the sufferers deal with their fear of pain and boost their daily activities.
Stress is a major issue for those suffering from Fibromyalgia and what I’ve learned is that stress is a circular issue, at least for me. Pain causes stress and as more and more things cause me to experience pain I begin to fear doing things, out of worry that they will cause me pain. The fear causes stress as I worry whether or not something I do is going to make me hurt (whether now or later). The stress causes more pain (whether the activity did or not). This is something I’m working very hard to deal with both through physical therapy and on my own.
In order to work through anything, you have to realize it’s an issue. Most of the situations I’ve realized have caused me major stress out of fear of pain have because of past experience with those or similar situations. For example, I know that two years ago when I had braces put on the first time I experienced the worst pain I’ve ever felt in my life, so the few months leading up to going into braces this time were very stressful as I worried about what kind of pain I might be in this time around. It’s good to be aware of what might be so that I can be ready and deal with the pain before it gets too bad (something I wasn’t able to do the first time because I was being told my pain was normal – it wasn’t), but worrying about the potential of something that is days, weeks or months away only creates more stress and anxiety, and therefore pain that doesn’t need to be there.
Physical Therapy was another thing that gave me a lot of stress. My past two experiences with PT (both at the same place) were very painful. I would (more) often leave PT feeling worse than I did when I arrived. For that reason, I wasn’t looking forward to yet another session of PT. However, I knew that this was a different place and a different type of physical therapy for a different issue. So, I was able to tell myself that it could (and hopefully would) be different. I was honest with my new therapists about the issues I’d dealt with in the past with PT. Through my honesty they were able to work with me in ways that decreased my stress and anxiety. At the same time, they were able to find ways that helped ease my pains and taught me new ways to deal with the pain & anxiety.
I’m still afraid of what may come with my braces. I still worry about things that I do that may cause me pain, but the truth is that I know what things I do that are likely to cause me pain, so it’s up to me to not do those things or to find new ways to do those things to avoid potential pains and flares, rather than allowing them to occur. We all know the right things to do and the things to avoid, but cognitive behavioral therapy is about learning to do what we know and changing our habits.