After your Fibromyalgia diagnosis, you may feel anxious, afraid or overwhelmed and wonder how you will cope. It is life changing – you’ve been diagnosed with a chronic health condition. There’s nothing fair about Fibromyalgia and no one deserves to feel that much pain every day.
Fibromyalgia can change your sense of self, that is, how you think of your body, yourself, and your future. Grief is a normal response as you give up your old ideas of yourself and begin to develop ways to cope with the new, unwanted changes in your life.
Below is an outline of the stages of grief – can you identify with any of these feelings towards Fibromyalgia?
It’s normal to experience a range of emotions in the wake of a Fibromyalgia diagnosis. I sometimes feel that I’m on a roller coaster of emotions each day – frustration, anger, hopelessness, and, at times, acceptance and hope.
When you have an illness like the flu, you know you will feel better within a few days. A chronic illness like Fibromyalgia is different; it will never go away.
These are some of my coping strategies:
- You will have good days! Do something you enjoy on those days.
- Set realistic goals, know your limitations – don’t try to do too much.
- Know that you are not defined by your illness, or by what you can or can’t do.
- Don’t feel guilty about tasks you have not completed.
- Do your most difficult tasks at the time of day you feel best.
- Recognize that your capacities may vary – what’s possible one day may not be another.
- Allow flexibility and extra time in your plans.
- Take pride in your achievements.
- Get your medication and routines organized and written down.
- Help to educate your friends and family about Fibromyalgia so that they can understand your illness.
- It is important to talk – share how you are feeling with family and friends. It is easy to see negatives everywhere and sometimes sharing gives you a different perspective.
- Try to enjoy the company of others – laughing with friends and family can lift your spirits.
- Be kind to yourself – treat yourself to your favourite chocolate, candle, a bubble bath etc.
- Enjoy small pleasures – the smell of fresh-cut grass, a good novel, strawberries, singing in the shower, watching a child play etc.
- Try to accept that you have this illness and not wallow in self-pity for prolonged periods.
- Do gentle exercises if possible – pace yourself!
- Join a support group – locally, on social media or an internet forum. You can find strength in sharing thoughts and feelings with others who understand what you’re going through. You are not alone!
Keep smiling 🙂