Besides, I had doctors and loved ones who looked at me with a raised eyebrow when I mentioned fibromyalgia. One physician actually pointed to his head moving his finger in circles and then pointed at me in an attempt to let me know he thought I was indeed CRAZY! (He was forced into retirement two months later, so maybe he was the unstable one, but I digress!)
So I just kept going as usual with little nod to this new diagnosis. I traveled to Arizona from my home in Minnesota to do my LifePlan with Carol Travilla (we later co-authored The Intentional Woman workbook together.) Soon we discovered I didn’t have the mental, emotional, or physical strength to complete the process. We decided that my next reasonable step was to STOP and “make room for my fibromyalgia.” That was a long time ago: 1996 to be exact.
I don’t talk or write about it much. I really don’t like to. I’m not an expert on FMS. Sometimes I think there’s little info available anyway, so there’s not much to discuss. I’m aware that each person who deals with fibromyalgia has unique experiences and needs. My story is not like yours. I don’t pretend that it is.
Yet yesterday when I got a direct message on Twitter from yet another creative and goal-oriented woman who deals with fibromyalgia, something clicked inside me and I said, “Okay, Joan, blog about it.” So at the risk of sounding overly-simplistic (I know there is much more to this subject!) I add my two-cents here.
TEN ways I helped myself manage my life with fibromyalgia:
- By asking for and getting support, information and education. I called around and found a Fibromyalgia Center at a hospital in Minneapolis, talked to insurance, signed up and went to classes that included P.T, O.T., water exercises, lifestyle change suggestions, medical help and more.
- By taking the medication that was suggested. I tried different dosages and types. I’ve denied, ignored, discounted that it helps, but it does. I’m now on the lowest dose and grateful for it.
- By starting water exercises. This was a BIG one for me because I don’t like water–or swimming. It gives me claustrophobia. I won’t even let the water in the shower flow on my face. At first I worked with a noodle to stay afloat and jog in the pool. For the last 12 years I’ve used an Aqua-Belt.
- By walking around the neighborhood. I’ve never really enjoyed athletics or exercise. (I know some of you love it and I’m impressed!) This is something I make an intentional choice to do. My body doesn’t feel like it, but once I do it consistently I can feel a positive difference.
- By discovering the reasons I didn’t have restorative sleep. Some studies show that poor sleep is one of the reasons people develop FMS. (There’s no way for the muscles to be replenished.) I found out I have sleep apnea, so I now use a CPAP machine and it has changed my life. (I no longer fall asleep at my desk, during meetings or in the car.)
- By taking yoga classes and learning to breathe more deeply. This is a rather long story. I have written about my “breathing” experiences in my books and in The Intentional Woman group messages on Facebook. Rest assured that I do focus on my Creator and Savior while doing yoga and breathing.
- By balancing my hormones and taking supplements when needed. I went to a Hormone Specialist (Yes, I paid the extra $70 for the appointment that insurance wouldn’t cover!) and I’m taking bio-identical hormones (not synthetic) dispensed by a Compounded Pharmacist who works with my medical doctor. Right now, I also take Fish Oil every day. There are other supplements that have helped me in the past.
- By learning how to do specific stretches, enjoying occasional gentle massages and soaking in the whirlpool Jacuzzi.
- By making lifestyle changes. This has been a HUGE step toward emotional, mental, spiritual and physical healing for me. I addressed my workaholic tendencies, practiced saying “no” as well as saying “yes”, started asking for what I need/desire, taking breaks and much more.
- By relaxing my urge to try too hard to make it all just right. This step has and is releasing me to freedom. It’s become a life theme for me–and a part of my mission from God. In my life coaching, speaking, mentoring and writing I’ve noticed an epidemic of “trying too hard to make it all just right” among Christians. People need relief and grace. That’s why I wrote the books, The Relief of Imperfection and It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life.
So I’m wondering: How have you helped yourself with your pain, tension and discomfort? In what ways are you releasing yourself to freedom?