Hello lovelies! 🌱
If you haven’t already read part one, I advise you to do so if you want a greater insight into fibromyalgia – however, this post is dedicated to discussing flourishing within the bounds of the condition, whilst breaking barriers which previously seemed unbeatable.
Nevertheless I am as thankful as always for the readers of Bud to Bloom.
Now…on with part two!
Fibromyalgia has been a major part of my life for 5 years now. At times it has felt consuming, suffocating, burdening, and pure hell on earth. Has my pain increased significantly since I used to harness this mindset? Yes…however I’ve been on a mission to understand my mind and body on a deeper level, and not see it as a separate entity than myself, or an aspect of my personality. It doesn’t define me, I define me.
The same applies to you, and hopefully the contents of this post and the possible discussion which it could bring, will be of use.
I know as much as anyone, that balancing multiple aspects of my life, volunteering, personal hobbies, family time, socialising with friends, my education and my physical and mental wellness is fucking hard. Only recently did I realise that by trying to balance everything and require all to be equally as attended to, that I was in fact doing more harm than good, because I wasn’t prioritising the necessities over the rest.
It’s difficult to comprehend having to consciously focus on certain important aspects of your life more than others, however you have to remember that everyone has their limits, and with fibromyalgia new limits materialise overtime.
This doesn’t mean though that you cannot live a fulfilling life or achieve positive and empowering things for yourself and others. It just means that your expectations of yourself and the reality of your health condition need to be tweaked to allow this to happen.
As strong as you are, we cannot have the same lifestyle that we had prior to our diagnosis during recovery, however that is not a weakness. It’s a learning experience as is everything in life, so if you find yourself feeling upset because you’re unable to achieve a set goal, or you feel overwhelmed with managing your condition – don’t worry; it’s okay. You’re only human, and emotions run high when so many different influencing factors are thrown into the mix.
Be proud that you’re continuing to try to live life as ‘normally’ as you can, and find ways to improve your situation. That’s so important! By comparing our achievements and situation with those who are able-bodied, you’re venturing upon a slippery slope. Firstly because we all have different life experiences, environments, personalities, and a multitude of other factors, which affect our accomplishments and abilities – hence why it’s impossible to make a fair comparison.
Secondly, because the lives of others can inspire us yes, but are completely separate to our own, as you are your own person – shift your focus and attention onto understanding and taking pride in your personal journey thus far, as opposed to the successes of others.
Dealing w/ Stigma
When living with an invisible illness, such as fibromyalgia, it can be difficult to stress the importance of making accommodations, or voicing your personal requirements to those around you. This could either be in your educational, occupational, or personal environment.
However, be assertive! You’ve got this, and you are the one in control of yourself and your condition; no matter how wrong this may seem.
Assertiveness doesn’t equate to being bossy; it boils down to standing up for yourself when challenged, and making your needs known, as they rightfully should be. If people don’t understand or grasp the complexities or differences between chronic pain and well-known conditions or illnesses, then explain. If they still cannot understand, don’t back down; your condition needs attention, therefore this needs to be ensured, as you shouldn’t have to go without due to a lack of mutual understanding.
Furthermore, if you find that you’re surrounded by people who continue to be unreasonable regarding the management of your condition, they need to be told straight and be kept at a distance.
This is hard, I get it…always putting up with it, trying to see past it, and laughing it off seems easier than dissociating yourself from someone else, right?
Negative rhetoric can easily influence our own moods, therefore if our mood drops – we suffer as a result. So make yourself heard, but don’t be afraid to walk away from negative influences in order to maintain a supportive network around you.
Self-care is vital to ensure that you attend to the basic elements that make up your overall health and wellbeing. Without ensuring that you have a strong foundation to build upon, you’re unable to have a stable wellbeing.
Exercise #1: Self-care checklist
Create a check list to ensure that every day you achieve your self-care goals. If achieving said goals on a daily basis have been difficult for you in the past, ensure that they come before anything else – and rather than seeing it as a chore, see it as a personal challenge which you CAN accomplish. Even when it feels like it’s impossible or extremely difficult, this doesn’t mean you’re incapable of doing so.
If your disability or other personal care needs interfere with your ability to carry out these tasks, please contact your doctor. There are mobility aids to help you to complete such tasks, such as cooking or bathing.
However, in the meantime if there is a roommate, carer, family member or friend who can support you to complete these tasks, and who you can talk to, always consider asking for their help.
I know how disempowering and disheartening it can feel to be unable to continue making achievements to the ‘level’ or at the pace which you once did prior to your diagnosis.
However the reality of the situation is that making fulfilling achievements is possible, you just need to alter you mindset to be able to understand that by making adjustments and accommodations, realistic goals can be achieved.
…And what else?
The goals that you had prior to your diagnosis could still be made in time, with perseverance, professional support, and slowly and surely working your way towards achieving them. However, it’s important to live in the present and focus on small short-term goals which aid in recovery, and which are adapted to allow for recovery.
Celebrating personal victories
I cannot stress the importance of self-empowerment enough, especially regarding the management of physical or mental illness.
Fibromyalgia impairs your cognitive, mental, and physical processes – and therefore it has the ability to affect every aspect of your life. This sounds scary but hear me out…this is about understanding that your condition is present and isn’t going to vanish overnight; therefore, it’s imperative to live as fulfilling of a life as possible.
In order to so, recognising achievement and using it as a motivation, or to gain further insight into your condition, is vital. Because otherwise how could you have a fulfilling life without maintaining mindfulness, and making adaptations or compromise within reason to support your personal needs.
List the achievements you have made every day, no matter how big or small. Were you able to achieve your self-care goals today? Were you able to make a meal for yourself? Complete your homework or paperwork? Leave the house?
All of these things are important, as without them you wouldn’t feel the same sense of fulfillment in your day; therefore recognise that you’re able to make a positive difference in life regardless of your condition.
Thank you for reading this far, and an extra big thank you to those who have read both parts in the fibromyalgia series. Hopefully the series has helped shed light on a greatly misunderstood condition, and provides a source of relatable content for those with the condition. Life can oftentimes feel turbulent and full of emotion – however, you will get through this despite what your doubts may tell you. Hey honey, if I can achieve what I’ve achieved, with the right mindset and support network; so can anyone. YOU GOT THIS!
On a final note, I would like to say a special thanks to the individuals who have stood by my side and continuously encouraged me, supported me, and advocated for me. Especially my wonderful parents, having you both in my life fills me with such gratitude.
I love you all 💛
Sending love and hugs,