Living Daily with Chronic Invisible Illness

Stress and Fibromyalgia

If you suffer from Fibromyalgia, stress can be a contributing factor to flares. How do you handle stress? Well, that has been an ongoing investigation for this Momma!

I am a homeschooling mother with six children still living at home, four still being educated by me, and four already out of the house. Stress just comes with the territory! For years I have been handling these various ages, hormone levels with both male and female, pre-pubescent and full-swing hormones, all running a muck! Not to mention normal daily family issues, unusual daily family issues, as well as teaching them (to work together) for years. We are a work in progress! We have in no way “arrived.”

How do I handle those stressful times and still keep my body from going through a flare?

When I find the answer, I will let you know! Ha, ha.

Seriously, though, I don’t have a cut and dry answer, but what I do have is insight to trial and error. I have been dealing with many stressful issues for years just keeping up with the routine we call life.

Before my body decided to betray me, I was a very organized, routined person. I had schedules and deadlines and structure. I made lists and abided by them. Now, I cannot find the lists I write. Actually, I cannot remember what I was going to write down before I can find the paper that had the list on it. Worse, I cannot remember starting the list in the first place, let alone finding it to write on. Post-it Notes have one or two items on them pasted all over the place and I find myself staring at them trying to remember what I could possibly have been thinking when I wrote them.

My brain suffers from Fibro-fog often and some days are really bad. After each lesson, I write down the page number of the book or topic we are reading in my teacher’s log so I can pick up where we left off the next day. On those days that the bookmark falls out and my teacher’s log goes missing is a sad day indeed…although my children may say the opposite…

On those days when my brain was working more clearly, I made a list of things to do so when my brain is NOT working, I can refer to that and keep the education going! Thankfully, I have good kiddos who are strong learners and can work independently, if needed! I even have a housecleaning list because on the really bad Fibro-fog days, certain routined things escape me.

Now, all these things that I have mentioned can cause stress on your body. When your mind cannot recollect the normal things it is accustomed to, it causes stress on your body. When you can barely move from the joint pain, it causes stress on your body. Stress does not have to be caused by another person, although that can be a HUGE stressy factor.

I laugh out loud when I read other blogs or medical sites that say to cut out the people who cause you stress and throw you into a flare! Sometimes that is a relative or close friend. Then what? Yeah…that is a topic for a later post! Ha!

The answer to these stress-problems is to pace yourself.

This goes against my Type-A personality. I fight this all the time!

Do a little. Rest. Do a little more. Rest. etc. etc. Some days it seems like I barely get anything done. But…..if I don’t pace myself-even on the good days-I will have more bad days. Did you hear that? (Of course you didn’t. You are reading this. So read this out-loud…)

“If I don’t pace myself-even on the good days-I will have more bad days.”

This is where the pacing goes against the inward desire to do-do-do!

Today, I planted mums. I bought 7 mums and with the help of one of my children, I dug four holes, and then bent down and planted all of the mums. Guess what? I cannot move hardly at all as I write this. My hips are screaming at me. Should I have stopped at three holes? Maybe only planted a couple and did the rest over a period of a few days? My personality says,

“No-way! Do it NOW! Get it DONE! Rest LATER!!”

But what I should have been thinking was, “This can wait until another day when someone else can plant these. After all, if I had not bought them, they would still be sitting outside the store in the same containers waiting to be watered and so they can sit here another day or two.” But which scene wins out? Well, the OLD way of thinking, of course!

No. No. No. We must create the NEW way of thinking. This, my friend, is the single-most hardest part of living with the constant, continual, never-ending, perpetually chronic body pain called FIBROMYALGIA!

You need to say good-bye to your old self. Yes, it is a sort of mourning. It may even take you months to let it go. But when you do, it is quite freeing!

Now you can embrace the NEW you. The I-CAN-do this¬†(albeit a little slower) you.¬† The, “My stress is not as bad as it once was now that I am pacing myself,” you.

It is reformatting the way we have thought for years…I am a work in progress. If I overdo and allow the stress to hurl me into a flare, I can learn from it so I do not repeat the pattern. If stressful people or stressful situations throw me into a flare, I have to learn from that, too.

Oh, but what if you don’t remember the incident (Fibro-fog). My answer is to keep a journal. This way, you can recall what you did and help yourself to manage it better the next time.

Yes, I have Fibromyalgia. Yes, on varying levels, I hurt 24/7. Yes, I can learn to pace myself. Yes, I can reduce the stress on my body by pacing. Yes, I can switch gears and reprogram my reactions to things. Yes, I can rest without feeling guilty. I am a warrior! I’ve got this!

Fall at my house…my happy place!

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