“If there is no struggle, there is no progress” , Frederick Douglass
There is a tendency among those of us with chronic pain to be ever so watchful on days we are in pain or extremely fatigued. We take it easy on those days and begin to wonder if we will ever be feeling well again. But, oh! On those days when we are feeling well our tendency is to be optimistic, think we are cured and immediately do more than we should. We then pay for it with a big flare-up. It is usually one step forward, one step backward. The struggle continues. Sound familiar?
How do we train ourselves to pace? What is that high all about when we feel as though we can overtake this burden? How do we make sense of feeling great one day and lousy the next? What is it about us that cannot seem to predict what will bring on a flare-up if we over do it on a good day? Ah, I think it is because we remember what it once felt like and that part of the brain becomes excited remembering BEFORE fibromyalgia. We want more of it; we deceive ourselves that we can go beyond the limits of yesterday when we did not feel so great. It is a series of ups and downs. We refuse to listen to warnings that one cannot be almost bedridden one day and up for a hike the next. Our brains deceive us; we become weary of thinking of ourselves as ‘pain people’. We crave normality. We want to go to that family gathering that inevitably over stimulates us. We want to take an hour walk instead of a 15 minute one because the day is so nice, filled with sunshine. The sky is the limit on what we can do on that magical day. Then the sky falls down and we are once again down and out the next day or the day after that. Our brains have not yet recognized that if we continually fail at some task, repeating it will mean we get the same results!
There is though some hope if we understand the ways in which the brain has the ability to create new neural pathways or change existing ones. ‘Cognitive Therapy’ which focuses on teaching a radical shift to our thoughts and feelings, showing how to live each moment with more awareness, is an evidence based program that can help with the tendency to overdo! In the meantime “Keep calm and carry on” as the old second WW saying goes! Calm is a balm for fibromyalgia!