I recently read an article in The Mighty about a woman who wrote what her 5 worst symptoms of fibromyalgia are;
- Brain Fog
I do not disagree! These are all symptoms people experience with fibromyalgia and yes, they qualify as some of the worst. These happen to be hers. I see three symptoms on her list that can be overcome and two that can be managed.
Remember, these are ‘symptoms’, not personality traits. Guilt, grief, and anxiety are simply symptoms that are present in the stages you go through when you are in the early years of your disease. Fatigue and brain fog will be with you for a long time. They want to be your “besties”. Just say no.
Let’s address guilt. You feel guilty because you can no longer do the things you used to. The truth is you are a different person now. You must rethink and focus on what you CAN do. There are so many things that can bring purpose and joy to your life. Just look for them, seek them out and do them! What hobbies do you like but never had the time for? What books have you wanted to read but never had the time? What instrument have you always wanted to learn to play?
Grief is a variable time issue for those of us with Fibromyalgia. It is not linear, we visit grief many times. We grieve for our old lives. We grieve for our careers, lifestyle, maybe even loved ones who no longer understand us. We grieve for lost relationships and for the pain we know we will feel every single day. We must grieve to get to the next stage of our journey; acceptance. Be still and allow yourself to grieve. Grieve for it all and for as long as it takes because the old you is now gone.
Anxiety. Severe anxiety can be handled with medication. But regular old anxiety comes from the unknown… basically, that is what we face every day. We do not know how we will feel, if your mind will be clear, or if any appointments we made will be ‘just too much’ that day. Chronically ill individuals may live in a perpetual state of anxiety because we have so little control over our illness. So choose how to react to these uncertain circumstances. There is your power. When a situation arises that you haven’t planned for, choose your reaction. Choose not to react if at all possible.
Fatigue. The first few years while you are learning to manage your fibromyalgia your fatigue will be at its highest! Your body is always in pain, you are still pushing to ‘get everything done’. You have not learned to pace yourself. You may not be taking your medications or supplements on time. You feel overwhelmed by the enormous amount of information being thrown at you. Fatigue will let up, it won’t go away. Each person dealing with fatigue will come to know that it is a very individual journey.
Brain Fog. Here is another symptom of Fibromyalgia that will become less frequent once you have established a schedule for yourself, including scheduling a brain fog day so you have nothing to be anxious about! Pacing, making lists, placing notes for yourself to help you get through a brain fog day. Here again, planning for the worst but hoping for the best is where your power to manage your symptoms lie.
Take back your power over these symptoms.