We all have bad days where keeping a positive outlook is impossible. Where we feel like we’ve been hit by a tractor trailer or run over by a train. We react to the weather and can predict it better than weatherpeople can. I like this blog post by Seeking Equilibrium about the average daily pain we all become accustomed to living with and the off-the-charts, please-make-it-stop pain that makes us crawl in bed and pray for sleep until the flare is over.
This is one of the best graphic representations of the fibromyalgia cycle I’ve ever seen, so I had to share. Based on my own personal fibromyalgia symptoms, I would make a few changes though, if this were my drawing. I would change fatigue to Fatigue/Poor Sleep. Sleep is key for fibromyalgia sufferers. I need a minimum of 8 hours a night. I don’t always get that, but I do my best to come close. Even if I do get 8 hours, its usually not a full 8 hours of good, restful sleep. Our bodies need a chance to recharge and get a break from the havoc our brain’s screwed up pain signal wiring causes. Sleep gives us this necessary break. Without sleep, we are fatigued and our pain is worse.
I’d also change limited activity to Limited or Too Much activity. Too little exercise or activity can increase our pain, but so can overdoing it. If we have a good day and push ourselves too hard, we’re going to pay for it the next day with more pain.
I’d also change Depression because it isn’t just that emotional state that feeds our pain. Any extreme emotion will do it. I’ve had a long crying fit trigger a fibro flare up, but I’ve also had a really good day where I was super excited and almost manically happy trigger a flare up. If we go too far to either side of the scale, we’re going to pay for it with more pain the next day.
All of these triggers feed our pain. They all feed eachother. They all form a vicious cycle that just causes all these symptoms to get worse and worse. It’s incredibly hard to break this cycle. Medications can help. A daily exercise program can help. Working with a cognitive therapist can help. But most of all it takes willpower and inner strength to pick a symptom, target it mentally, and work to make it better. If I can make one of these symptoms better, my pain gets a little better. If I can balance these symptoms so they’re all in a more normal range, my pain drops to the lowest level, which I call my good days. It’s like keeping plates balanced and spinning on poles. It’s hard and nearly impossible, but it’s really cool when you achieve it.