Friday, February 3, 2012

One of the Most Important Things I Do For My Fibromyalgia

     Of course, I have my Primary Care Dr., whom I Love; he has been very helpful, calm and understanding. He was the first to diagnose me, put me on the right type of medication which, for the most part, has the pain controlled, but not the complete exhaustion and fatigue. The Rhematologist was useless, as was the “quack” neurologist who seemed to dismiss some of what I said, and basically ignored the rest of what I said. (Yes, I'm going to be looking for a new one real soon.) But, one suggestion from my PC has led me to one of the most important things I do to deal with my Fibromyalgia and all that comes with it.

My Counselor!

     Mr. M. is awesome. He is an LICSW, and has been counseling our family on and off for the past 13 years. I was first sent to him to see if I was “depressed”. I really didn't think I was depressed, I had been before; this was different, but who am I to say, let's check it all out. Mr. M. didn't really think I was depressed either, stressed, yes, but not depressed. So we worked on ways to manage the stress. Daily meditation, which I know worked for me in the past, but having someone to hold me accountable (in my mind, not his) was very helpful. It took a few weeks before I could stop most of the mind wandering, but as he explained it's part of the cycle – acknowledge it and let it go. He has taught me to do the same when I get frustrated with my foggy brain, pain, not being able to do what I used to do. Acknowledge the thought and let it go.

     Like most people with Fibromyalgia, I don't want people to feel sorry for me, just understand and accept me as I am. I try to keep a smile on my face, a positive attitude and a kind heart towards helping others. As you all know, it is not that easy, we have to work at it. Mr. M. has helped me with that too. Being “Mindful”; Living “Mindfully”. What is being “Mindful” and Living “Mindfully”? To me, it is slowing down, thinking about what I am doing, and being “present” in that specific moment. One example he gave me that really brings it down to basics was when a woman told him that when her phone rings at work, she stops what she is doing, takes a breath, and answers the phone. In that moment that's what she was focusing on—the person on the other end of the line.

     How else can you “Live Mindfully”?
  • Don't multi-task – be mindful in the one thing you are doing
  • When you take a walk, don't talk on your cell phone; notice what's around you. A squirrel, a flock of finches on the bare branches of a bush, feel the air on your face. You know that age old saying “Stop and Smell the Roses”? Take it literally; maybe not every day, but once a week?
  • Stop what you're doing and listen to the person talking to you. Be fully present with them.

     It's hard today, to do this. We are always being asked to do more, but eventually, it wears you out. This is especially true for people with chronic illnesses. I used to think I had to do it all, be super woman, and my husband asked “why?”; I said “Because I have to”. Let me tell you – NO YOU DON'T. It's really okay if the laundry doesn’t get folded, or if your kids do their own laundry and they don't separate it. Life is for Living (“Mindfully”).

     The most recent thing I learned from Mr. M. this week was when you can't keep your normal schedule of balancing and pacing your days (let's face it, life is unpredictable, whether you have a chronic illness or not!), to do what you can, when you can. If you have to “shut down” and meditate in the car, then that's where you do it. In between appointments or carting the kids, take ten minutes to just be. I've even “shut down” in a doctors waiting room. It's a little embarrassing when they call your name and you're a little out of it, but even that few minutes can help you maintain some sort of balance. It's like the best way to eat healthy and keep your metabolism going is to eat a lot of small meals through out the day. It's the same thing with meditating or being mindful; if you have to, do it in small chunks of time throughout the day.

     These three things have helped me avoid the push and crash cycle that we know all to well. Sometimes it's inevitable; you have to push, and then you crash. For me that's around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but I keep working hard at maintaining balance. When I find it difficult to maintain the balance, keep my spirits up, help me put words on what I'm having trouble with, or to be reminded that it's not all in my head, there is Mr. M. to help me through it. I strongly encourage anyone, but especially those with chronic illnesses to find a counselor. It has been one of the biggest things that has helped me with this crazy thing they call Fibromyalgia.

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