Fibromyalgia: 3 Ways To Manage Your Expectations
This is part two of a three part series on Three Ways To Live Life To The Fullest With Fibromyalgia
Now that you have accepted the fact that you have limitations due to fibromyalgia and the other set of countless symptoms that go along with fibromyalgia you can manage your expectations. Probably the biggest thing you can do to manage your expectations is to know that you’ll never be able to do in a week, what used to take a day to do.
When managing expectations, there are three ways to do this:
1. Manage your expectations of yourself.
2. Manage the expectations of others.
3. Manage the expectations of the illness itself.
Manage Your Expectations Of Yourself
One of the most important things someone with fibromyalgia can do to fight pain and symptoms is to do your best at reducing stress. That’s not as easy as it sounds. I know, I’ve tried.
Knowing that you will not be able to do what you used to do in the time frame you used to do in may be demoralizing. I’ve had fibro for thirty-two years and it is still, on occasion, demoralizing. I get frustrated and for me, frustration leads to stress, which leads to the increase of symptoms or a flare up. For me that typically means more pain and more fibro fog symptoms. Sometimes it vents in depression, making it hard to want to do anything for a period of time.
I need to remind myself that I have limitations, but at the same time I need to remind myself that while I do have limitations there are many things I can do. Make a list of things you know you can do. That way, if you’re having a fibro fog day you can look at the list and remember what you can do.
Have you ever done something and then realized, “oh crap, I’m going to pay for this for the next few days.” With fibro fog you can forget that there are things you can’t do because you’ve spent a lifetime doing them. Keep a journal or list of activities that you have done in the past and how your body responded. Then build up a list of activities you know you can’t do, activities you can do and maybe a third list of activities that you might be able to do if you’re having a good couple of days or if the weather is good. Fibro fog is my worst enemy getting me into all kinds of trouble, I’m in constant pain, but I sometimes forget to take my pain MEDs. Sometimes I do an activity that I later realized is something that will cause a flare up.
Manage The Expectations Of Others
Fibromyalgia is an invisible illness, meaning that we don’t look sick, but we are. We don’t look like were dying of pain, but we are. Because we don’t have a cast on one of our limbs or because we don’t pull out a needle for an insulin shot we don’t get the same respect afforded those who have those more visible illnesses. There’s a lot in a name. If we said, “I can’t do that because I have arthritis,” most people would understand because “arthritis” has name recognition that fibromyalgia doesn’t have.
What this all means is that we need to manage expectations that others have of us. Because we don’t look sick or because we have a disease with virtually no name recognition we don’t get the same respect as other with different illnesses.
How does one manage the expectations of others? That is a hard thing. We’re not lazy and we want to do as much as we can when we can, but that doesn’t match up with external expectations.
Someone suggested this concept: You’re involved in a group and something comes up and they need a volunteer to do something. You’re having a good day so you think, I could do that for a change. Yay. But if you do it this time, they might expect you to do it again the next time that situation arises. You have no way of knowing how you’ll be feeling next week or next month. If you do it today then you’re setting expectations for the next time. So don’t do it, even though you could have done it that one time. Now they won’t expect it of you.
Personally, I avoid situations like that, because it’s hard to manage others expectations of you. I have a supportive family so I can do things when I feel good enough and say no when I don’t feel good enough. Even though they understand and are supportive, it’s hard on them and sometimes they get a little bent out of shape but they understand.
Winning other people’s approval is not worth getting sick over, it’s not worth a flare up, so don’t be afraid to say no.
Manage The Expectations Of The Illness
There are some basic things you can do to manage fibromyalgia: Treat the symptoms, like pain pills for pain, muscle relaxers for muscle spasms, anxiety pills for anxiety, medicine for IBS or whatever the case may be.
Avoid stress the best you can. Stay positive, the best you can. Get the best sleep you can, don’t overdo it and don’t give up!
There are no medicines from nature or from the pharmaceutical companies that will completely take away the symptoms of fibromyalgia. Treat the symptoms but don’t go overboard. There are several million people in America that suffer from fibromyalgia. If some medicine came along or some natural remedy came along that resolved fibro completely, don’t you think you would have heard about it from a reputable source and not some second rate site with outlandish testimonials that claim to have the answer for fibromyalgia?
Don’t waste your hard earned precious little money searching for a cure. You will know about a cure or a top rate solution, it one becomes available.
Keep things in perspective. There is no known cure for fibromyalgia, but it is not a degenerative illness. It won’t kill you. It can, with time, be managed to a degree. To expect more than that will set you up for disappointment.