I have been on a never-ending quest to reclaim my pre-fibro life, although it seems that may never be an option. How did I go from being an active, professional, functioning member of a family and society to being a home-bound, socially challenged, drain on them? The answer is simple, I gave in to the disease. I allowed it to define me and limit me. I did it because I had to.
We create survival mechanisms when constantly placed in difficult/harmful situations, and I arm myself with “The Sick Person Defense”. It was and is necessary for me to rationalize shortcomings to others because before FM , success was dependent on my creativity and ability to work well under pressure and meet deadlines, thus pleasing the people around me. Fibromyalgia has now turned me into a frantic, scatter-brained, anxious, unprepared mess. I let people down on a daily basis, and this stresses me out.
What now? How do I (we) let go of our “defense” and add some life into our lives? I have written a list of some things that I am willing to try:
1. Come to terms with the fact that I am sick and that requires lifestyle changes (this doesn’t mean moping around all day with zero productivity). It means that although I may not want to change my diet or my sleep habits, I WILL to change the way I feel and take control of this terrible illness.
2. Stop focusing on the things I can’t do. I am very creative and love to make things. I may not be able to work at the pace I used to, but I can work, and that is a blessing from God!
3. Keep a journal. This has many purposes. I can write dietary/medication information from each day to see if certain foods/medications/vitamins are having an effect on my flares. The journal is also a place to record how I am feeling each day (great for Dr. visits) and ideas that I have.
4. Set reachable goals for each day/hour/week and log them in my journal. It is not possible for me to do everything I used to do, but if I focus on completing tasks that are more realistic, such as getting all light colored clothes washed and dried in one day instead of pulling all night laundry duty because I don’t feel sleepy, I can go to bed feeling a sense of accomplishment.
5. Say NO when it is necessary without feeling the need to explain. Sometimes I take on more than I can handle (because I’m still not sure what I can “handle”). I will not feel bad for giving a person an honest, reasonable answer to their inquiry, even if it means that I cannot help them.
6. Sleep!!! I will force myself to turn off all sources of noise and light no later than 11:00 P.M. to encourage better sleep habits.
7. Ask for help!!!! It is hard for me to recognize that I need help from someone else, but it is even more difficult to actually ASK them for it. I will try to ask for the help that I need instead of throwing myself into a flare after trying to do everything all by myself.)
8. Pray daily for a better understanding of God’s will for my life and the role that this illness plays in that.
“I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)”