The Mental War against Fibromyalgia

I took a sick day from work today.  It wasn’t one of my worst days, pain wise.  It was just an above average day for the pain.  I also felt nauseous.  I go through bouts where the pain makes me sick to my stomach.  Just another symptom in the wonderful world of fibromyalgia.

A lot of my daily battle against fibromyalgia is played on a mental battlefield.  There is a huge mental component to fibromyalgia.  It’s not just that our brains are wired wrong and we read signals as simple as the shirt on our backs as pain signals.  We have to fight off a whole host of other symptoms that fibromyalgia throws at us.  There’s depression, anxiety, worry, fear, obsessing about what we aren’t getting done every day, guilt, and so much more.  And then there’s the lack of energy that goes along with the pain.  The pain saps our energy and strength.  It erodes our motivation and confidence.  It shakes the foundation of our lives.  Today was one of those days where I couldn’t marshal enough weapons to counter fibromyalgia’s pull.  I couldn’t fight off the voice of the pain calling out to me to give up, give in, crawl into bed and not get back out.  So I called in sick and slept for three more hours.  It wasn’t the best sleep, but it was sleep, and it recharged me some.  I was better able to fend off the pain and my other symptoms when I got up.  I got some food in me and I was ready to do battle again.

Sleep is my best weapon in the mental battle I wage against fibromyalgia.  Without sleep, my weapons just aren’t as powerful. I simply do not have the energy to fight the pain without sleep.  I need that break where my mind shuts off and my body can recharge some.  It’s never enough and I rarely get a full night of good, quality sleep, even though I take two medicines to help me sleep.  Without those, I hate to think of how much worse off I’d be.  Sleep is key to everything.  I know.  I went through months with little to no quality sleep and my body and mind suffered for it.

My battle against fibromyalgia is waged on a battlefield in my mind.  The pain and it’s weapons — depression, guilt, fear, fibro fog, memory troubles, vision problems, etc., etc. — line up against me and my few weapons.  I’ve collected more weapons against the pain and it’s allies over the last year.  My weapons include yoga, meditation, music, coloring, stubbornness, multiple relaxation techniques, qi gong, and a few others.  My biggest weapon is daily exercise.  My defenses crumble without that.  But sleep is key.  Without it I don’t have the energy for exercise or to wage my mental battle.  You don’t win when you fight fibromyalgia.  Winning is forcing a stalemate and then fighting the battle again the next day, and the next, and the next.

Today was just one of those days when I had to retreat, regroup, and recharge before I could resume the battle.  These days are a necessary part of my mental war.  At least now I allow myself to take the day off work and recharge.  It’s okay for me to do that now.  It didn’t used to be.  I used to just push myself and pay the price with higher pain levels.  Now I take the time I need because I’m in this war for the long haul.  A day off work means nothing when stacked up against what could be decades of war against my fibromyalgia.

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8 thoughts on “The Mental War against Fibromyalgia

  1. chronicpainsurvivor says:

    So sorry to hear you have had a bad day but I am so pleased that you have reached that place of acceptance where you recognized a rest day was needed. That is such a monumental achievement as anyone who lives with chronic pain knows. ‘Mental War’ describes it well. Take care of YOU, healing hugs. Narelle 🙂

  2. I sure hope tomorrow is a much more peace filled day for you. Our fellow chronic pain survivor is SOOOO spot on with acknowledging that it does not always have to be an awful day to be a day you NEED to yourself. Often times, that is the day that saves a setback. Blessings to both of you & all of us that are dealing with chronic pain of all sorts.

    I have been symptomatic for over 20 years. Diagnosed 9 years ago. Spent nearly two years in bed & have been working on ridding myself of this CRUD!! I know that the human body was made to heal itself & I will be no exception.

    This entry I could have written this myself – but I REFUSE to call this “MY” Calling Any DIS-EASE “MY” means that you CHOOSE to accept it into your body. I will NEVER accept this crud…. NEVER. And – I am more & more at EASE as time passes. AND – then BAM – a set back & I get back up & remember who I am & get back at being who I want to be.

    Something else that a dear friend pointed out is that calling it a battle means that you’ve accepted your plight for things to be difficult. Like you, I have MANY coping mechanisms – and thanks to your site & others that share so openly, I add more & more tools each day. Thank you again for sharing. The last few days I have felt weak b/c I haven’t been able to deal the way I’d like to. You reminded me that I haven’t been weak – I’ve been regrouping.

    ♥ Much Love ♥
    Michelle Cook Hill

    • painfighter says:

      Michelle, thank you for your insightful comment. I think each of us react differently to fibromyalgia. Your way of fighting it is to refuse to let it be a part of what defines you but rather as something you can beat. My way is to accept it as a component of what makes me ME. By owning it this way I am better able to kick its butt every day. Before, I tried to ignore it. Now I accept it as my opponent, one I will never surrender to. I wish you luck in your battle and hope that we all can defeat fibromyalgia one day.

  3. […] The Mental War against Fibromyalgia (painfighter.wordpress.com) […]

  4. I LOVE your response. Thank you. Do you think you will always have this component/opponent? As I am truly looking forward to being able to say that I am completely asymptomatic.

    • painfighter says:

      My husband asked me this very question on Thursday. My answer is I’m not sure. I lost hope a long time ago in finding a cure for my fibromyalgia, or being completely pain free. I don’t think in terms of hope anymore. My therapist tells me I nitpick the word hope too much. To me, hope is too vague and intangible. It’s like winning the lottery. You want to win the lottery, but the odds are totally against you. Now, I focus on the positive things I can do for myself to manage and decrease my pain. I work very hard to get better. I do pray to whoever or whatever will listen out there in the universe to be pain free one day. But I can’t just rely on hope or a force outside myself any more. This is my existence right now. Fibromyalgia is a part of who I am now. I own it and I own my battle against the pain. One day maybe I’ll achieve victory and be pain free. Who knows. I can’t get lost in thoughts of the future though. Right now, it takes all I’ve got to focus on the here and now and make the best of the hand I’ve been dealt.

  5. Linda says:

    Your comments are all so very inspirational. It’s a sigh of relief to know that I am not going crazy or just being lazy when I can’t get out of bed in the morning to go to work. Or that I take naps just because I am overweight and that makes me lazy and tired. It’s nice to hear that Fibromyalgia is a REAL disease. I get tired of being told that it’s all in my head and if I just forget about it or ignore it, I can make it go away. Lose weight and everything will be better. People tell me that I just need to keep pushing and ignore the pain so I try. Some days I win the battle but some days I don’t. I have had Fibromyalgia going on five years this year, and I still have problems owning this disease. Everyday when I wake up I hope that the pain will be gone. Everyday I hope that the fatigue levels will disappear and my life will be what it was before Fibromyalgia took over. But it doesn’t happen. I try very hard to accept this disease tbut it is not an easy task to accomplish. My days are a mental struggle from the moment I wake up to when it’s time to sleep again. I battle against the pain and fatigue everyday. I push myself as hard as I can to get to work everyday which doesn’t always happen. I push myself to go shopping with my daughter or husband on the weekends just to have something other than sleeping to do. Some days I just want to give up and take the option of disability because mentally I am so tired that I don’t think I can go on. But I love working and I love my job so unless all things completely crumble around, that will not be an option. Life in the past six months has become more tolerable with this disease. My medications, diet and exercise help. I have however had to cut my hours down from 8 hours a day to 6.5 for now. Hopefully I won’t have to cut anymore than that. Some days I just want to cry but I know it won’t help so there is no point. One of my only saving graces is the wonderful husband I have who doesn’t question the disease or my ability to battle it. He is so supportive and understanding. I thank God everyday for him. For whomever wrote the first article in this blog, I commend you. I am sharing it with everyone I know. It expresses in totality the struggles of Fibromyalgia, the disease that those who don’t have it, say “it’s all in our heads”. I do not wish this disease on anyone, even those who say “it’s all in our heads”. Thank you for listening.

  6. Lizette says:

    I can associate myself with all you wrote. And yes “its not all in our heads”, we actually stretch our brain’s limits to try and cope with the health cards we are dealt with. But as long as we have a healthy spirit and rest every now and then, then comes another day!! At least in our lives we can say, we wake up on the morning not knowing what the day has in mind for us. We live a surprise each day!! Keep well you all!

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