Having a chronic illness is hard. We do things at a pain level that would keep most people in bed, and we do it every. Single. Day. In addition to Fibromyalgia, I also battle Depression and Anxiety, and there are times when it feels like managing everything is an insurmountable task. There are times when it feels like I'm Sisyphus and my job/to-do list/goals/dreams/responsibilities are the rock I have to push uphill everyday, and my symptoms/illness/etc. is the reason it rolls back down to the bottom of the hill every day; and I just never seem to get get that rock to the top of that hill.
Like I said, living with a chronic illness is hard. Working this hard every day for a prolonged period of time and seeing little results as far as how you feel, never seeming to get better, and considering there is no cure in sight- it's hard both physically and emotionally. It's also easy to go to what I call "the dark and swirly place," which is not a state of mind you want to be in, trust me. Living with that kind of demoralizing existence every day is exhausting in every way- it's really, really hard, and sometimes in order to keep going and keep fighting, you have to stop and rest.
I'm not just talking about physically resting when you're in physical pain (and are basically bedridden and therefore forced to rest)- but I mean taking a mental rest when you need it as well. It's so important to remember to regularly practice self-care so you stay as healthy, both mentally and physically, for as long as possible- but it's also important that when the time comes that you need to take a real break, you recognize it, and you take it. Unapologetically.
Maybe you need some serious physical rest. Maybe you need some serious mental rest. It doesn't matter. The time to stop and rest comes for us all, every human on the planet, because life is hard, and every once in a while, you just need it! Now, for those of us who have chronic illnesses, that time may come more often that it does for people that don't. People may not understand why you need the break. That's okay. Take the break anyway.
It doesn't help that this world tells us to validate ourselves by our output. By how busy we are. It tells us to feel shame when we're resting and to work through the pain and to be as busy as possible and take on as many projects as possible, and if you're not running in circles you're not doing enough.
Don’t listen to the messaging the world is selling you, listen to yourself, and if you need to rest, allow yourself to rest so you can keep going. So you can show up as the best version of yourself. Take the space you need to heal so you can come back swinging. There are benches along paths for a reason- so you can take a break and rest, to heal or to take a moment to enjoy life, and then continue along your path.
I recently had to take a rest, and I'm slowing coming back into myself, and that's okay. Our pace is our pace, and that's okay. I needed a break so I could keep going, and I'm taking it. And it feels great.
Wishing you the time and space you need to be your best self,
FSC Founder and Fabulous Fibro-Fighter
IT'S OUR DAY! May 12, 2019 is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day and to celebrate we're rolling out some BRAND NEW CUSTOM RESOURCES!
You already know that we added some new playlists to our FSC Spotify channel this week, but now we've got some brand new downloadable resources for you to enjoy!
Head over to our Resources page to see all the tools and resources we've compiled, and be sure to enjoy our publicly available resources today!
Free Custom Downloads from The FSC:
Bullet Journal Template Downloads
Fibro-Strong Quotes: The Affirmations Edition
Fibro-Strong Quotes: The "Gentle Reminder" Edition
Fibro-Strong Quotes: The Inspirational Edition
Fibro-Strong Quotes: The Warrior Edition
To get access to even more downloadable resources, be sure to JOIN THE FSC (or check your inbox), and let us know how you're celebrating Fibromyalgia Awareness Day in the comments below!
-FSC Founder and Fabulous Fibro-Fighter-
This week, there was a great member discussion about what weather is best for Fibro-Fighters that really stuck with me that I want to talk about.
It all started because, while I live in the Bay area of California (Northern California) now, I used to live in Orange County, California (Southern California), and last weekend I went back for a baby shower- and man did my body feel different when I got there! I knew that the cold wet winter that lingered until early this week in the Bay area (we're finally getting some good weather this weekend!) has added to my aches and pains, but it was so nice to go to a hot, dry place for a weekend because I definitely felt a little better!
And that got me thinking, did any other Spoonies have a climate they felt best in? So I asked the question in our Mighty Network, then expanded the discussion to our other Social Sites as from the responses, it really did seem like Spoonies did feel better in a certain type of weather!
The importance of rest days can not be understated. After going out last night, giving myself the gift of recovery the next day is crucial. Sitting in uncomfortable seats, walking more than usual- these are things that probably wouldn't wipe out a fully-abled person, but can and do wipe you out when you have a chronic illness like Fibromyalgia. The need for rest after doing even the most basic of chores or after a low-key night out is common, and therefore the need for rest and recovery frequent, and important to maintaining your health.
Sensory overload is a common symptom of Fibromyalgia, and for me, sensory overload is worse than my chronic pain. I mean, being in pain all the time sucks, but frankly I think being completely overcome by your senses is worse, even if it doesn't happen to me as often. Hell, just being overwhelmed by one sensory system sucks let alone more than one at the same time!
Now most people with Fibromyalgia have multiple symptoms, and while I think there is a lot of discussion out there about how difficult it is to manage many symptoms, I don't think I've hard anyone say that they struggle with certain symptoms more than others, and I think it's time to add some nuance to the conversation- so I'd like to say that out of my many symptoms, I think I struggle with my chronic nausea and sensory overload the most- specifically when it comes to noise and smells.
Like a lot of people, I traveled to see family for the Thanksgiving holiday. I flew from the rain and fires in California to the cold and possibility of snow in Detroit, Michigan.
This is required some preparation as I don’t don’t do well in cold, but so far wearing four layers seems to be working- but it’s supposed to snow on the day I leave so keep your fingers crossed for me!
As much as I love to travel, it isn’t easy with Fibromyalgia. Being cramped in a plane and sleeping on air mattresses or sofas or lumpy hotel beds isn’t exactly ideal. Plus, there’s activities and lots of action you don’t want to miss out on, so you try to force yourself to do more than you generally would, but don’t want to overdo it because you have to get back to work and life after the vacation is over and don’t want to work yourself into a flare- it’s a difficult rope to walk.
As a follow-up to last week's blog about the things we use to manage our Fibromyalgia symptoms, I wanted to share some of the things I use to help me with my chronic pain.
Lots of people with chronic illnesses like Fibromyalgia use modifiers to help make their lives easier day-to-day. Some use canes, wheelchairs, or other mobility assistance options, and lots of us have purchased items modified to make life easier, like laundry baskets with wheels, easy-open bottles, things like that. And more often than not, even our rooms are modified or set up in such a way as to be as helpful or comfortable as possible- like, pillows with arms and lap desks so you can use your computer in bed comfortably should you be stuck in bed for long periods of time.
I personally have done this a lot (as in, all examples above except the mobility aids are things I have or I’ve done, as you’ll see), and I’m curious about what ways or tools or things others may use to help make life a little easier.
I personally, have used acupuncture in the past, and it did help lower the severity of my Fibromyalgia symptoms, so this is the next thing I want to discuss in our ongoing 'Ways to Manage Your Fibromyalgia' series.
Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicinal treatment in which long, thin needles are inserted in strategic acupuncture points at various depths long the meridians or pathways of the human body to restore balance to our Qi (pronounced "chi") and allow the body to heal itself.
Now I personally, have a HUGE fear of needles, but there is so much information out there about the benefits of acupuncture for any number of illnesses, and I liked the fact that it allowed the body to heal itself rather than introduced something new into my body to attempt to mask a symptom rather than treat it, so I tried it- and I have to tell you, the first time did not go well.
In continuing our managing Fibromyalgia series, our next tip is using essential oils/aroma therapy to help manage your Fibromyalgia symptoms. I'm obviously not a doctor, and any new treatment method should be discussed with a medical professional, but there are more than 17,000 medical studies on essential oils that prove their therapeutic benefits for a number of health concerns—among these are chronic pain, depression, and stress, so it's worth discussing. Because each essential oil is different, you can customize your experience and combine specific oils to maximize the healing medicinal properties that you need to help battle the symptoms that you have.
Essential oils are essentially plant extracts, and contain the essence of an herb or plant. It is the healing properties of these plants that are infused into these oils, and it’s not the scent that can make you feel better- it's the herbal/healing components that you take in. Chemicals from the herb get absorbed, these chemicals eventually reach your limbic system — the network of nerves in your brain that controls your instincts and emotions- so using essential oils can alter your perception of pain and potentially improve your mood. After using, you can feel the affects in as little as 30 minutes, and the affects can last hours and can be easily reapplied as needed.