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.
Now, for me, when sensory sensitivity comes along, loud noises can be difficult, really difficult, but man, smells... smells are the hardest to deal with. I mentioned already that I have chronic nausea as one of my main Fibromyalgia symptoms, but when my symptoms flare up, that's when sensory overload kicks in (and the nausea inevitably gets worse as the flare goes on). When I'm in that state, if I catch a whiff of an overwhelming smell I usually get physically sick- and no one enjoys that experience.
I'm lucky in that, for me, sensory overload usually only comes up during a flare and isn't one of my main symptoms, because it really does overcome you; it's all encompassing and terrible. Not to mention suggestions for easing the symptoms are usually avoiding triggers if possible and sterile environments for recovery- nice dark quiet rooms that smell only of fresh air and nothing else. Unfortunately there is no pill for this; no suggested dietary or work-out regimen, just rest.
When you're managing a chronic syndrome like Fibromyalgia, I think it's important to be honest with yourself and be honest with others. If I'm experiencing more pain than usual, I may still be able to do things, but if my senses are more sensitive than usual, I almost definitely won't. Managing the ebbs and flows of chronic illness is difficult, but I think adding the nuance of which symptom(s) is/are easier to manage on top of that can help you and those close to you better understand your needs when your difficult symptom(s) pop up versus when a fairly manageable one does.
So let's add some more nuance to our conversations. Let's identify what we need (more) help managing, because unless we do that, we won't be able to get to the next step of learning more ways to help us manage. So I'll leave you with that, and I'm going to google some management tips- if you have any you'd like to share, please leave them in the comments below.
Heather, Fabulous Fibro-Fighter and FSC Founder