Fibromyalgia feels like a never-ending cycle of feeling stressed because of pain, the stress causing me to spiral with anxiety, and that anxiety makes my pain feel more intense. Then, in turn, like some sick joke, the pain increases my stress. Pain, stress, and anxiety are all impacting me and leaving me feeling unhappy. Perhaps unhappy is an understatement, but I'm feeling confident that you know what I mean if you are reading this.
I understand that being happy doesn't take away our fibromyalgia pain; it can make it more bearable, make stress more manageable, and help reduce anxiety.
So how do we turn things around and start living a happier life despite Fibromyalgia?
Here are five ways that have helped me and may also help you be happy despite living with Fibromyalgia.
1. Put Your Needs First
Ever notice that you feel worse when you let other people down rather than when you let ourself down? I think it's a pretty familiar feeling. Living with fibromyalgia often means that our lives change quite dramatically, and it can happen at a fast pace. We quickly see that we aren't able to live like we use to; we might have to cut back on work hours or stop working. We notice that we are catching up with friends less, less involved in social events, and less active community members.
Even though most people in our lives try to understand our situation, and I know more often than not, those who care about us do feel for us when we are unable to keep appointments or unable to do things we had intended to do because of our fibromyalgia. Nevertheless, it can still leave us feeling horrible about canceling plans or simply not being there for others. I often find myself carrying around the guilt of not taking phone calls, emails not returned, canceling meet-ups with friends when I am suffering from Fibromyalgia flare, or too exhausted to spend time with others.
So what do we do when we experience intrusive feelings of guilt and shame?
☞ Try to stop yourself at this moment when those feelings and thoughts come over you. At that moment try to look at the expectations you have of yourself and ask yourself, "Are these expectations balanced and fair given my current health situation?"
It's natural for us to still hold high expectations for ourselves despite living with life-altering symptoms of Fibromyalgia. Read that again, life-altering symptoms. Our lives are now significantly altered. Yet we still beat ourselves up mentally, thinking we let someone down or we should be able to do more things for others.
9/10 times I need to remind myself that I am doing my best given my situation. I try to remind myself that I did not choose to have this painful condition, which is a constant battle, day in and day out, to get through. I remind myself that despite all the horrible symptoms of fibromyalgia, I keep moving forward. You are too. You are moving forward. How do I know? Well, you are here reading this blog post; you are searching to find out how you can be happy despite Fibromyalgia. You are willing to learn ways to live better despite your chronic illness. Please take time to look at your situation with kindness and compassion, as you would if it was your friend having this condition.
Remember that you do not have to please everyone and that not everyone is expecting everything from you. When I started adopting that attitude, it truly has helped me feel less burdened and happier.
2. Take Action to Feel Happy
I'm guessing that I'm not the only one t