Fibromyalgia is a big part of my life – but it’s not my whole life, it’s just a chapter in my story where recovery and healing aren’t my goals, or on my list of New Year Resolutions, but instead they are a way of life that has to be lived, whether I like it or not!
When chronic illness such as fibromyalgia comes along it alters your story into something that was once unimaginable in such a way it then becomes a part of every future chapter – there’s no end in sight. Yes! There will be people who think they know what’s best for you and want you to be a character in their book, but why is it that others who don’t suffer believe they know what’s best for fibromyalgia?
“Make a resolution to do daily yoga” they say, or do meal plans, lose weight, get exercise, get a good night’s sleep, keep positive, stop worrying or make resolutions you can stick with”, etc. etc! This might all look good on paper, but phew! there are times when even taking a shower is a challenge!
Most of the time we are just trying to adapt to a life with conditions that our bodies don’t always cooperate with us. Ultimately, it’s up to you how you fill your pages and the start of 2021 is as good as a new chapter and a time to make your own resolutions that work for you!
Here’s a few of my resolutions, maybe some might resonate with you.
1) Resolution: Self- Assertion – I am the expert of my own body
Nobody knows your body more than your own self. When you intuitively feel something is wrong don’t dismiss this and get it checked. Get a second opinion if need be – do not let yourself or others place all your health concerns under the fibromyalgia umbrella – this could save your life!
2) Resolution: Ditch the Guilt
Guilt is like a built-in circuit so deeply wired sometimes it goes totally unnoticed until it ignites into a fire that burns you out. Learning how to ditch the guilt is not easy for everyone but remind yourself it’s of your own choosing. Get help if you need to because I can tell you when you let go of the guilt, WOW! It feels amazing!
Affirmation “In the New Year, I will be kinder to myself and I have no need to make myself feel guilt”.
3) Resolution: It’s Ok to take rest when I need it
Yes, it’s true that keeping active is good for your mind and body, but not if it’s causing you so much pain that you get laid up for days. Practice pacing and manage everything within your capabilities and that includes resting your body and your mind. When the mind gets busy – learn to rest it – find ways to quieten the mind and give yourself permission to rest when you need it without judgement, self-criticism or guilt. Affirmation “In the New year, I will be kinder to myself and rest if I want to”.
4) Resolution: Acknowledge and celebrate all successes, big or small
For those who suffer with fibromyalgia, we all know the challenges it brings and some are tougher than others – but we get through and that’s called success!
Affirmation “In the New Year, I will acknowledge my small victories” for instance the effort it takes to get up some mornings”! Reminder: Small and big stuff are both worth celebrating!
5) Resolution: Try harder to ask for what I need
Some people are good at this, but for others it’s not so easy to ask for support, it’s already bad enough coping with fibromyalgia and there are times when we just don’t know exactly what it is we need, or don’t want to feel like a burden. The thing is that if you don’t ask then you don’t get.
Affirmation: “In the New Year, it’s ok for me to ask for help or support when I need it, I give value to others and deserve the same for myself”.
6) Resolution: Strive with courage and honesty
Over the decades, fibromyalgia was seen by many as a made-up illness, a stigma was attached that even today causes many who suffer to feel afraid or ashamed to talk about their diagnosis. Sometimes we might feel pressured to put on a brave face, almost apologetically to protect the feelings of others. Fibromyalgia may be difficult to understand and invisible to the eye, but it doesn’t make it any less real and those who suffer, do so with courage.
Affirmation “In the New Year, I will strive with courage to be honest about how I feel and what it takes to cope with my health condition, it’s not my problem when others can’t handle this”. Reminder: Fibromyalgia isn’t choosey – anyone can get it!
7) Resolution: I am in charge of my own standards of health
Fibromyalgia affects each individual in its own way and there is no single treatment that suits all. It’s a complex chronic illness characterised by widespread pain and a host of other symptoms that fluctuate on a daily basis. Its roots are believed to be a malfunction in the central nervous system, otherwise known as central sensitization syndrome, a functional systems disorder affecting several system of the body. For this reason, effective treatment and management work better where both medical and a holistic approach are followed, where the needs of each individual are met and not just the symptoms.
Affirmation “In the New Year, I will accept my uniqueness and pursue the healing options that suit me best, I am more than a set of symptoms”. Reminder: The holistic approach treats the whole person, including lifestyle and not just the symptoms.
I’m leaving 2020 behind as a year that although it didn’t give me what I wanted, it did teach me to appreciate the good things I already have. For 2021, I go in with my resolutions: To be my own expert with nothing to feel guilty about and an acceptance that chronic illness isn’t my choice, with nothing to apologize for but to strive with courage and to breathe new energy into my next life’s chapter. I hope this has been helpful and if you have any others, I’d love to hear from you.
May we take time to acknowledge the strength and celebrate everything it took to get through this year and welcome the New Year with hope in our hearts, keep safe.
Author Jok Saunders, founder of the Fibro Clinic South West