Today is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day (May 12, in case you are coming to this post later), and I thought it was an appropriate day to share a post on how I #defypain and how I’m Surviving Fibromyalgia.
Fibromyalgia is characterized by widespread chronic pain, and while I may look healthy, and perky, and not the least bit in pain most days, the truth is that I’m in pain almost every day. I just refuse to let it win. When I first got sick, I had no choice. I had no tools with which to cope with the chronic pain and fatigue of Fibromyalgia. I dropped my classes, I barely worked, and I suffered. But, over the last five years I’ve learned a few things, and now I survive and some days I even thrive.
- Diet – Diet was the first tool that I really found that assisted in decreasing my pain. By choosing what I eat wisely and eliminating certain foods from my diet altogether, I was able to drastically decrease my pain. I still have bad days, and sometimes I still have a craving for bad food. But, I’ve seen the effects of making good decisions and I know that it’s worth passing on the gluten and dairy. It’s just not worth it.
- Pacing – Pacing should have been the first tool I found. I’d heard the instructions enough time as my support group leader lead us through “Do it, Delegate it, or Dump it” at least once a year. But, I didn’t listen. I either did nothing or I tried to do everything. I remember one month in the early years when I was feeling a bit better and decided I was going to clean my house from top to bottom. In my defense I did try to “pace” myself creating a list of what I would do each day, but what I didn’t consider was that there would be days when I could do nothing. It took me a long time to be ok with what. These days, I don’t worry so much about how clean the house is, or if someone else will be upset if I don’t get to something. If I don’t get to it I don’t get to it. These days I make sure that instead of scheduling my task list, I expect downtime and accept it.
- Positive Attitude – This is one that a lot of people hate to hear as much as they hate to hear “diet choices”, but I really have found that doing my best to keep up a positive outlook makes a huge difference. Getting bogged down in negativity, only makes me feel worse. It adds depression to the chronic pain, it makes me want to curl up in a little ball and cry. And, quite honestly, when I get hit with negativity it adds stress, and stress increases my pain. So, I do my best to avoid stress and one of the best ways I’ve found to do that is to focus on the positive. Whether it’s the positive of what someone meant when they said something that may have hurt my feelings, or the positive of the day when I don’t want to get out of bed. Little things really do make a big difference.
Chronic pain sucks, and while we can’t necessarily make it go away, we can find ways to decrease it, and ways to focus on other things, beautiful things, around us. We can #defypain.