At this point, if you’ve followed my blog, you’ll know that my life is far from what one might call normal. Still, it is my reality. A part of that reality is having to deal with the inconsistency of my chronic illness, i.e., fibromyalgia. There are some days that I feel great, like I could go run a marathon or two, and there are some days when even the thought of opening an eyelid seems like too much of an effort.
With such fluctuations in one’s daily experience, it can feel hard to create a sense of order to your life. After all, what’s the point of making plans for the next day you’re never sure how you are actually going to be?
Over the years, I’ve engaged in an internal psychological warfare, trying to force myself to feel better when I don’t, blaming myself for real and imagined shortcomings, and even giving up on myself when I fell short of my expectations.
The path to living peaceably with fibromyalgia is far from smooth. However, over the past year, I’ve been working on letting go of my self-frustrations, allowing myself to feel whatever I feel, and strategizing how to take small steps that move me healthily along my path.
So, here are 3 steps that I’ve found useful to keeping internal order even when everything else feels like it’s in utter chaos:
- Do 1 Thing the Same Way Every Day: Choose one helpful thing that you will do every day no matter what. Don’t cut corners. Why? Because it helps to create a 1)sense of routine, 2) shows you that you can do what say you will, and 3) moves you a further step along your path. So, what are some possibilities? Depending on where you are in your journey, it could be as simple as taking care of your personal hygiene or working on a personal project (for me, that would be writing). It’s up to you. As long as whatever you choose moves you closer to your life goals, then it is A-OK.
- Make Lists: If there is one thing that bothers me most about having fibromyalgia, it is dealing with brain fog and memory issues. In the past, when I felt like my mind could not focus or I could not remember something important, I would really come down hard on myself. I took a massive blow to self-esteem because I did know how to accept and strategize around my illness. Now, I make lists, especially if I know there is something important coming up. I would suggest having a bulletin board in a place where you cannot avoid seeing it, and posting your lists there. If you’re not into the bulletin board idea, then I would suggest posting it on your refrigerator…after all, you have to eat at some point.
- Write Down What You’ve Done Each Day: At the end of the day, even if you didn’t move from your bed, write it down. Write down who you spoke to, if you took your medications, if you made it out of bed, what daily goal you accomplished, and any and everything else. Write it down. I do not mean that you should journal–although journaling is not a bad idea. I mean that you should take notes on what you do or don’t do each day. It will help you to understand your personal patterns. If you do this long enough, you can see how your symptoms might be impacting how much of what you can do in a day. It doesn’t hurt, so try it.
I cannot promise you that following these steps will change everything in your life. I do believe, however, that they are the beginning steps that will take you closer to where you would like to be. Remember the key thing is consistency.
It doesn’t matter what you decide to do–how big or small it is–just be consistent. Learn to appreciate the small steps you can take, so that when you are able to take larger steps, you understand the magnitude of your accomplishment!
Happy Fibro Friday! 😉