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What is life with fibromyalgia like?


Fibromyalgia pain affects every aspect of life. From the moment a person with fibromyalgia gets up in the morning until they go to sleep, fibromyalgia pain is with them – and even at bedtime, the body aches can remain, interrupting sleep cycles and compounding on the fatigue already part of fibromyalgia symptoms.

One of the few blessings of fibromyalgia is that it isn’t a progressive disease. While it can last a lifetime, fibromyalgia is never fatal. Fibromyalgia may taper off as life progresses, and it doesn’t leave permanent damage in the body the way arthritis does.

Everyday things that people do – from hugs to sitting down – may hurt someone with fibromyalgia. Because the body is not processing pain correctly, all physical stimuli can get translated into pain, and the pain just radiates throughout the affected muscle long after the stimulus is gone.

Sometimes, the pain of fibromyalgia is so great that you have to quit some of your normal activities or switch career paths. Older fibromyalgia sufferers might retire ahead of schedule because their bodies can’t withstand working anymore.

The social aspects of having fibromyalgia can prove difficult in their own respect. Because fibromyalgia is still little understood and some doctors still aren’t well-versed in fibromyalgia care, it can be hard to bring up your symptoms with people because you are often deemed “difficult,” a complainer, or a hypochondriac. Acquaintances who aren’t aware of the condition might belittle your experiences with the pain of fibromyalgia with their own woes of a back ache or a sleepless night. Finding a solid community of other people also dealing with fibromyalgia or surrounding yourself with people well educated about fibromyalgia can help ease up some of this stress.

Another social stress arises if you have a family. If you constantly have to lean on the support of a partner, cancel outings with your children, or leave gatherings early because you’re too tired it can feel like fibromyalgia runs your life. You worry your children resent you for not having the energy of other parents; you feel like you’re a burden to your spouse. A good way to deal with these thoughts is to redirect your attention from your own condition to what you can do to help others also dealing with fibromyalgia. Get involved; it feels better to be proactive than to feel sorry for yourself. But never forget to be gentle with yourself – it’s okay to feel what you feel and give your pain the respect and sorrow it deserves.

The interruption and break in mental processes and general confusion that can characterize people with fibromyalgia, “fibro fog,” is a huge hurdle when it comes to performing daily activities. Socially, you feel unreliable because you forget appointments, lunch plans, and such. Practically, it’s difficult to get through the week when forgetting to go shopping or do the laundry. Help yourself out by getting into a routine and give yourself post-it-note reminders for smaller tasks so that you don’t have to slog through the fog every time you have something you need to get done.

Counseling helps immensely when it comes to coping with the depression and anxiety that accompany fibromyalgia. You don’t have to battle alone.