I think one of the scariest aspects of having fibromyalgia is the loss of control over the one thing that, if nothing else, you “should” have total control: your body.
It’s as though the bargain that you struck with your body once you left childhood suddenly becomes null and void. It’s like you left the car dealership and get home realizing you’ve been sold a lemon. All right, maybe it’s not like that, but you get the idea. Something feels very unfair about all of this–and it’s true.
Fibromyalgia, like any illness, doesn’t do fair. It doesn’t know how to play nice, and it’s quite selfish. That’s the way it is. Still, you have to live with it. No matter how much it takes away from you. In fact, it can (and will) take so much away from you that you no longer know/understand who you are.
Fibromyalgia assumes and consumes your identity until you no longer exist. I know. I’ve lived through it. I became absent in my life and from myself. I allowed fibromyalgia to define me. Not. Any. More.
It’s easy to get bogged down in the misery of this illness: its randomness, its painfulness, its isolation, its depression. The desire to withdraw from self and society can feel overwhelming, and I know many (including myself) who have retreated, in one way or another, from the world. Let’s stop that. Let’s take back what is rightfully ours, Let’s reclaim our bodies and our minds!
It’s only a matter of taking it one step at a time. So, today I’m sharing with you the 3 steps that I have taken and still take to be more present in my life.
- Remain Open – to yourself and to possibilities that life has to offer. Fibromyalgia changes you. Be open to that change, rather than fear it. There is a lot that having fibromyalgia will teach you about what it means to be alive.
- Challenge Yourself Daily – Think fibromyalgia has made you into a sniveling, whiny, hell-hole of a person? All right, well, that was yesterday. Who do you want to be today? Challenge yourself to be a better version who you were. Tomorrow is a whole other day, so focus on today, the here and now.
- Make Contact – No matter what, reach out to someone every day. Call or meet a friend, check in with family, chat on an online support group or a social media network. Reach out. Staying isolated with your illness is a sure path to further problems, psychologically and thus physically. If you can, get outside and take a walk…even if it is for a few steps. Taste the air outside, see the world around you, celebrate that life is happening and you’re a part of it.
I cannot promise you that taking only these 3 steps will change your life. They are, however, a good way to start doing so. Remember there is a difference between the verbs to have and to be.
You have fibromyalgia. You are not fibromyalgia.
Let neither yourself nor anyone else define you by it.
Try every day, taking one step at a time along your path.