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.