Fibromyalgia Anxiety Warrior!

In response to the Fibromyalgia Blogger’s Directory Challenge,

I present this blog post!

imani-clovis-90059

The above has become my mantra. I suffer from severe anxiety. Anxiety is one of those co-existing conditions of fibromyalgia. If I take a moment to realize the fears that are leading to a full-blown panic attack are irrational, I can usually talk myself out of an attack. Usually. Even after 20 years of practice, this is not a given.

If you suffer from anxiety it is imperative you work on three things:

  • Knowledge.
  • Physical hygiene.
  • Mental hygiene.

Knowledge. Doctors, educational articles, and the internet are full of information!  Listen, read and learn. If you are reading informative articles that speak to you, print them out, put them in a binder! Keep a journal! (A journal will be handy when you want to keep track of your physical and mental hygiene progress as well.) Record in your journal the articles you found that day for your binder. What did those articles mean to you?

Physical hygiene. Sorry but yep, exercise. MODERATE exercise, we are not entering any bodybuilding competitions here. Walk. Just walk. Even 15 minutes a day will help you to clear your thoughts. There are days when I can only make it to the end of the block and back. But I go! I usually do shorter walks three times a day. Now, in Minnesota, incremental weather can keep you housebound. So have a backup plan. Pick out two of your favorite songs and just move! Have your own dance party and be silly! Is your pain too severe to move? Sit in a rocker and rock! Those calf muscles push the blood to your heart. While you rock just focus on your breathing, inhale pulling in your stomach slowly then exhale letting your stomach muscles relax. Record your walks, your dance parties, and/or your rocking chair minutes in your journal. Seeing the exercises you have completed will boost your momentum to continue to care for your physical hygiene that meets your needs.

Mental hygiene. What do you say to yourself on a daily basis? Are you your biggest cheerleader? No? Start cheering! Find ‘feel good’ quotes and put up around your house. Find your own personal mantra, learn it and repeat it to yourself often. You must get sleep. Use whatever you need to fall asleep. I listen to thunderstorms on my TV, but I put a blanket over the screen. I have used noise machines, and fans… try things and see what works for you. Tea, warm baths, do whatever routine you find to accomplish restful sleep. If you need medication to get to achieve restful sleep, go get some medication! Sleeping equals healing. Record what works for you in your journal.

Panic Attacks. Sometimes, the anxiety hits fast, and you are in panic attack mode. Stop everything and sit down. Breathe! Tell yourself you’ve been here before and you made it through. Go someplace else in your mind. Think of your favorite memory, a favorite vacation spot, maybe a place you envision in your dreams to be your safe place. Wherever or whatever it is, go there. Keep telling yourself you will make it through, you will make it through… record panic attacks in your journal and see if you can find a pattern.

Now let’s get real. I had a flare yesterday. Did I go out for a walk? No. I was physically unable. I did take medication for the pain, and I did take medication to help me sleep. Do I do everything I laid out in this blog? No. I do not always do everything. I do make an effort, an attempt. There are days when just surviving is a substantial momentous achievement. You must be proud of these days. Record them in your journal, “I made it through a rough day! I am a Warrior!”

IMG_0250~Kim

 

 

Fibromyalgia Anxiety Warrior!

 

imani-clovis-90059

The above has become my mantra. I suffer from severe anxiety. Anxiety is one of those co-existing conditions of fibromyalgia. If I take a moment to realize the fears that are leading to a full-blown panic attack are irrational, I can usually talk myself out of an attack. Usually. Even after 20 years of practice, this is not a given.

If you suffer from anxiety, you must work on three things:

  • Knowledge.
  • Physical hygiene.
  • Mental hygiene.

Knowledge. Doctors, educational articles, and the internet are full of information!  Listen, read, and learn. If you are reading informative articles that speak to you, print them out, put them in a binder! Keep a journal! (A journal will be handy when you want to keep track of your physical and mental hygiene progress as well.) Record in your journal the articles you found that day for your binder. What did those articles mean to you?

Physical hygiene. Sorry but yep, exercise. MODERATE exercise, we are not entering any bodybuilding competitions here. Walk. Just walk. Even 15 minutes a day will help you to clear your thoughts. There are days when I can only make it to the end of the block and back. But I go! I usually do shorter walks three times a day. Now, in Minnesota, incremental weather can keep you housebound. So have a backup plan. Pick out two of your favorite songs and just move! Have your own dance party and be silly! Is your pain too severe to move? Sit in a rocker and rock! Those calf muscles push the blood to your heart. While you rock, just focus on your breathing, inhale pulling in your stomach slowly, then exhale, letting your stomach muscles relax. Record your walks, your dance parties, and/or your rocking chair minutes in your journal. Seeing the exercises you have completed will boost your momentum to continue to care for your physical hygiene that meets your needs.

Mental hygiene. What do you say to yourself daily? Are you your biggest cheerleader? No? Start cheering! Find ‘feel good’ quotes and put up around your house. Find your own personal mantra, learn it, and repeat it to yourself often. You must get sleep. Use whatever you need to fall asleep. I listen to thunderstorms on my TV, but I put a blanket over the screen. I have used noise machines, and fans… try things and see what works for you. Tea, warm baths, do whatever routine you find to accomplish restful sleep. If you need medication to get to achieve restful sleep, go get some medication! Sleeping equals healing. Record what works for you in your journal.

Panic Attacks. Sometimes, the anxiety hits fast, and you are in panic attack mode. Stop everything and sit down. Breathe! Tell yourself you’ve been here before, and you made it through. Go someplace else in your mind. Think of your favorite memory, a favorite vacation spot, maybe a place you envision in your dreams to be your safe place. Wherever or whatever it is, go there. Keep telling yourself you will make it through, you will make it through… record panic attacks in your journal and see if you can find a pattern.

Now let’s get real. I had a flare yesterday. Did I go out for a walk? No. I was physically unable. I did take medication for the pain, and I did take medication to help me sleep. Do I do everything I laid out in this blog? No. I do not always do everything. I do make an effort, an attempt. There are days when just surviving is a substantial momentous achievement. You must be proud of these days. Record them in your journal, “I made it through a rough day! I am a Warrior!”

img_1722~Kim

See more: Acceptance? Here’s Your Ticket!

 

Let Them Open the Pickle Jar

Women are to a large extent completely capable of caring for themselves. We can figure out how to get those groceries, make a meal and get a load of clothes done  … even when we are in pain. (Men, I know you can figure it out, too!)

However, we need to add one more thing to our plate. Yes, one more something that doesn’t have to be done daily but should be done on a regular basis. Ask for help opening the pickle jar!

What?

Ask someone to help you open the pickle jar.

What are you talking about? 

Let me break it down, bear with me, I promise this will make sense…

When you love someone who is in pain, you want to stop their suffering. Those of us living with chronic pain cannot be fixed. Give that person who worries a task to do for you if they ask how they can help? The opening of the proverbial pickle jar.

There are moms and dads, husbands and wives, kids and siblings, aunts and uncles, cousins, and friends… many people in your life who feel helpless and they really want to help. They want to ‘fix’ your pain but we know they can not. So we put on a happy face and pretend all is right with the world.

Then they catch us grimace, or see us catch our breath as the pain sears through us, and eventually, we pull away. Then they pull away. They can’t help, and we are tired of explaining this to them. We are just so tired!

So for those who are still in your life, the ones who are honestly trying to help, give them a way to help. Come up with a few ideas to include them in your life instead of excluding them.

It would really help me out if you could…

  • Pick up a gallon of milk.
  • Carry the laundry basket into the bedroom.
  • Grab me a couple of notebooks the next time you are out.
  • Help me purchase items for (…a hobby.)
  • Send me some easy recipes for dinner.
  • Stop by with some coffee from Starbucks.
  • I need a few new puzzle books… color books… etc.

Think of things you can ask for when the people in your life want to help. Let them! Ask them! Show them that you do need their help. What are things you need? Ask for those things. Think about what you could use and be ready for requesting a task if you are asked.

When you are in a flare, it affects everyone in your household. How can you convey that although they cannot fix you, they can help? My husband knows when I flare to shave some ice cups for me and put them in the freezer. I may ask him to make some jello or do a load of clothes… sometimes just lower the blinds and bring me my pain pills! I could do all these things by myself, but he wants to help. So I ask him to help, and it feels nice to have him help me. AND … it just may help him to not feel so isolated when I am down with a flare.

If you have kids, and they want to help, convey they can by doing something for you. An errand, or a particular meal (or snack) that you have taught them to make. Same with close friends and loved ones, let them help in some way. It builds a bond and promotes inclusion into your world that can be so confusing to them, often isolating them from your life.

It took me so long to learn this lesson. Almost too long! I isolated myself for so many years I lost contact with many people who mean so much to me. I’m trying to rebuild bridges that I did not even know I had burned. Some will never be fixed. Some of those people I care about are forever lost to me now. If only I would have found a pickle jar for them to open, maybe they would still be in my life?

Ask for help, let them open the pickle jar.

IMG_4491~Kim

 

 

You Do Not Get a ‘Pain Pass’.

There are times when I am in a considerable amount of pain. My fibro flare is in full force, and the fog is pounding in my head. Every movement causes pain! My back feels as if it is coming apart at the spine, disc by disc… I should not be held accountable for my words or actions! This would be a ‘pain pass’ or something, right? WRONG.

We do not get a ‘pain pass’ to treat others poorly. EVER. Yes, we are in pain, and it may be an absurd amount of pain! We do not get to snap at whoever is closest because we are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Brain fog does not cause verbal abuse. Nope, never proven. Having a flare of pain with fog is not a ‘pain pass’ for our own nasty behavior. Having a depression flare doesn’t grant a pass for rudeness either. We decide how we engage with those around us.

When is the last time you asked someone how they were doing with sincerity? This means not leading the conversation with “how are you?” just so you can answer with a laundry list of your problems.

I’m sorry you have a chronic disease. I’m sorry I have a chronic disease. But the world does not revolve around us! We must live in it.

I am not claiming innocence! I spent time figuring out where I was on this learning curve.  I made up my mind to be present and aware of my interactions with others. This is a coping skill; learning to be prepared for those sick days. Saying ‘sorry’ when you need to because you messed up is acceptable, you own it. Eventually, when you are flaring, you engage with an upfront apology because you need to excuse yourself for some alone time to manage your flare.

You decide, when you interact with another person, what message you will send. You are representing a community. The chronically ill community. You can make the encounter pleasant or unbelievably uncomfortable.

Represent our community with grace.

 

From one who learned…

IMG_0173~Kim

 

 

I Feel My Disease (the rough days)

The syndrome that is fibromyalgia is complicated. I research, try different ‘treatments’ and hope for the best… it never comes. The Best. I cannot find it. I feel my disease. My body reminds me with every step, reach, and stumble. Disease. Painful disease.

I am angry right now. If it were not for Anger, I’d be a puddle, on the floor sobbing. I am angry at this disease today. It is not to be ‘noticed’ by an onlooker and keeps me from doing most things I love. Worse, is not being believed therefore estranged. Left mostly alone, with my disease.

My chest hurts. I think it is because my heart is breaking. But. It keeps beating, my heart. Silence is too loud. Noise is deafening. Is my disease getting stronger? So I find Angry again and convince myself not to feel. I turn on the music to escape the pain, if only for a song.

I have days when the disease wins, and that is just the way it is. It may have a day, maybe two, and sometimes more. Eventually, I fight my disease back in its box. I search again, hoping for The Best. Stepping carefully, reaching tentatively, facing pain still. I feel my disease.

The syndrome that is fibromyalgia is complicated.

~~~

Better days are coming I say to myself, imperfect is fine because I understand that lie. ~Kim

 

 

 

 

 

Did You Know About Depression Flares?

Depression. It is said the third week in January is the worst for depression. I believe it. Also, I think once you have depression, a debilitating depressed mood can move in on you at any time of the year. Sneaky little mind trap just waiting to pounce and pull you into blackness.

What does an increase in a depressive mood feel like?

Fatigue! Fatigue is an excellent indicator of an increased depressive mood as is lower back pain! Did anyone else know this? (I always have lower back pain when I am feeling depressed, I never thought it had anything to actually do with depression.) I just read an article on The Mighty where the author talked about back pain and/or neck pain accompanying an increased ‘flare’ of depression. The whole idea of a ‘depression flare’ struck me as well. A depression flare. Well! I know how to deal with flares!

If we experience flares from chronic pain conditions, why would we expect not to suffer depression flares? This makes so much sense to me! I have really been struggling for the last few days with an increase in my depression. Putting this into a flare mindset has helped me greatly!

A flare is an increase in symptoms that is temporary. The comfort in knowing that you are experiencing a flare is that you KNOW it will pass. You realize what is happening and you know if you can just endure it, it will subside. Do what you would do for a flare and just get through the depression flare! Just get through it… endure it and remind yourself this is temporary. 

Now, as with chronic pain flares, if a depression flare gets too bad, you need to go to the hospital to get help with getting through the very real emotional trauma and physical pain a flare can cause. If you can handle it on your own, safely, then get through it the best way you know how. Have your ‘toolbox’ ready. A toolbox is a few items set aside that will help you pass the time when you are unable to sleep. Sleep is our most significant healer, but there are times when we cannot sleep. We must occupy our time as best we can until we get through this temporary increase in a very uncomfortable state of mind and pain.

Be safe, know your limits, and remember you are very likely thinking irrationally during a depression flare. If at any time you feel unsafe, call 911 and get help. There is no shame! Depression is a very real, and severe invisible illness.

Did You Know About Depression Flares via I Tripped Over a Stone.

img_0487~Kim