the gift of fibromyalgia

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Hello!

I can’t find the source for this hilariously true cartoon–but thanks to whomever drew and posted it!  It fits with the strategies listed at the bottom–stop overthinking and nip worry in the bud.

I’m taking an online class on Fibromyalgia (you can check it out here: http://www.cfidsselfhelp.org/online-courses).  This week’s topic is handling emotions, and these are the questions asked, and my responses.  I recommend the course.

What do you do to help yourself feel better when you’re feeling blue? 

-do something active like take a walk, get out of the house, lift weights (I have a little hand weight routine I started which seems to help–not too much exercise, but enough to get my heart going and change my mood up),

-I have a book called -The Mindful Way Through Depression- and reading a bit of that usually helps me remember that my thoughts and feelings are passing and are not my identity (if I don’t let them be)  Mindfulness is really helpful.

-prayer and meditation, relaxation recordings including affirmations and visualizations

-take a nap

-talk to someone

on the other hand

-drinking and smoking and hanging out, pretending not to be sick (this is maybe not the healthiest coping mechanism, so I’m not recommending it–just saying it’s the coping mechanism that my family of origin taught me and I haven’t quite unlearned it yet).  Also, swearing and making black humored jokes and stories helps sometimes.  I guess that inside, I still have that angry teenager and sometimes she needs to come out and have her say.

What strategies help you work through the losses brought by your illness?

I think I’m just realizing the losses now.  This class is kind of making me face up to what’s really going on.

I just resigned from my teaching job of 20 years.  I don’t know what’s coming next in terms of career, finances, purpose…I try to remind myself that I taught and helped lots and lots of kids already and I have nothing to be ashamed of for being burned out. I was a great teacher for many years and have lots of wonderful memories.

I’m also just realizing how much stuff I don’t remember.  My short term memory is shot.  I wonder if I should get an alzheimer’s test.  So I’m scared about my brain fog and apparent loss of intelligence and memory.  I’m only 46 but I feel like my brain is really tired.  Probably because I’ve been thinking too much for so long.  What was I talking about?

I already knew that I had lost a lot of my hopes and dreams because of my ongoing intermittent depression.  I’ve known for a long time that my sense of self waxes and wanes and that limits how ambitious I can be or have been with teaching, writing, or any other career.   I’ve been a good “actress” for many years, making sure that I did not appear depressed when I was.

Now I realize that maybe that “acting” is what wore me out and brought me to fibromyalgia–I don’t know.  So I guess I have to give up trying to project the image of not being depressed, tired, or in pain.

I just try to let go and figure that maybe I’m meant to just rest now.  I’ve had a hard life so far (see cartoon above!) and my sadness and fatigue are telling me to just relax and chill now.  I remind myself I have no choice but to give in and rest and relax.  Worrying is just going to make me hurt physically and emotionally.  So I try not to get stuck in that worry loop.

Maybe the gift of fibro is that I get to stop worrying and working so hard.  So here’s my strategy list: rest, relax, let myself off the hook, eschew ambition, stop overthinking, nip worry in the bud.  Relax some more.

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