Fibromyalgia and overdoing it!

“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!


17 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia and overdoing it!

  1. Michelle

    I do this all the time, as I’m newly diagnosed and haven’t gotten a handle on this yet. Thank you for the reminder!

  2. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Michelle: Ah, newly diagnosed. Not easy, is it? Please begin this process of living with the daily challenges by learning about and practicing mindfulness meditation. It is evidence based and shown to change brain wave patterns. By focussing your attention on different parts of our body you can change your brain’s perception of chronic pain. It will take discipline but it will give you the help you need on a daily basis. Keep in touch and very best wishes,

  3. Deb Harris

    I still do this & I was diagnosed almost 15 yrs. ago with symptoms for several years before. It’s just not easy. I just found your site thanks to a link on Fibro Geek’s site. I wonder if you have an email newsletter or way to subscribe by email? If not I will be trying to keep track & check into your blog. Thank you

  4. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Deb: No,I do not have an e mail newsletter. I find that just keeping up with comments and writing blogs takes up so much energy and doing more is difficult on my arms and hands! Ah, after 15 years you still have no learned you say. Welcome to my club. It isn’t easy. everything with fibro takes discipline! I wish you the very best. Hope to hear from you again!

  5. Jennifer D

    You are talking my language. I just discovered you via “Heart Sisters”. My Fybro & CFS were diagnosed about 25 years ago, but I have needed more sleep than anybody else I’ve known since my teens (I’m 62). The tendency to startle easily & other symptoms you describe are part of my life that even those close to me don’t seem to understand or anticipate.
    Your words about our heightened empathy & intuition are affirming to me.
    Thank you for you posts. I’m glad I’ve found you.

  6. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Jennifer:
    I too am glad you found me. Do you also have heart disease? The combination of heart disease, fibro and aging is not pleasant for me!
    Terror in the everyday news haunts us, movies in a theatre that are noisy and overwhelming, loud gatherings are all part of the overstimulation that isn’t easy to deal with. Almost have to isolate ourselves from all that is too arousing! But, who wants to live like that? Still, calm and quiet are comforting and much needed.
    Best wishes,

  7. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Hello Marlene:
    I wish I could say that after a few years fibromyalgia declines in intensity. It has not been my experience, especially because as one ages there are all the other aches and pains!
    But, we can find ways to make life less stressful if we are lucky with support systems and an adequate income. Most of our quality of life depends on us learning strategies for saying “no” and finding ways to lessen our anxieties. A calm, non-stressful life without undo excitement is the best answer. This may be very challenging for many.
    I wish you the very best. Keep in touch. Read the other blogs and get reassurance from the comments of others by knowing you are not alone.

  8. Danelle

    So good to hear I am not alone. I knew I was overdoing it yesterday but a couple of hours outside doing yard work felt so good. I knew I was in trouble when I came inside and had to settle for a tubby cause I was too exhausted to stand up for a shower. Today I am so fatigued and in so much pain. I hate this disease.

  9. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Hi Danelle: Of course! Isn’t it frustrating? Feeling good and “normal” wanting to do what others are doing on a lovely almost spring day! Pacing is key but we tend to forget to discipline ourselves and pay for it the next day. You are definitely not alone. We’ve all been there, doing exactly that. We need big signs all over the house telling us to pace, pace, pace!
    Best wishes,

  10. janet stone

    Here I am in bed, with a bucket next to me vomiting profusely because again…I over did it. But, how will I have clean clothes if I don’t clean them myself. Who’s going to scrub the toilet in the shower if it’s not me? Like, truly at this moment I wish I could go to sleep and not wake up again. This is not a way to live! Family doesn’t really even understand. I hate my life.

  11. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Aw Janet: We have all been there when we reach our limit. But not all days, week, months are like that. There are many hours of joy. Please find some means to light up your brain to new neural pathways. Overdoing it is a trap we all fall into. Hopefully, you have relaxed for the past few days and have regained some sense that your life is not over with peace still possible. Do you have a therapist with whom you could talk when you are feeling this hopeless? You are not alone.
    Best wishes,

  12. janet stone

    It got worse I ended up in ER diagnosed with something I never heard of. It affects the muscles, tendons and ribs causing inflammation and tightness. I couldn’t swallow and now I am in bed and on lorazepam and Ibuprofen. In a couple of days the quarterly botox injections to control spasm and migraines. Also quarterly is an Occipital nerve block injection. Too much pain, just to try and get some relief. I can’t be out for too long, I get exhausted. I have to take norco10-325 just to be able to go and run errands. I sound like oh pity me, but no….it just sucks to be immobilized and run risk for another pulmonary embolism. I’m only 41.

  13. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Janet, my dear, you seem to have many health issues that are unrelated to fibromyalgia. Your pulmonary embolism just one example. I am so sorry you are having such a difficult time with so much pain. We can all relate to that but the spasms, inability to swallow are indeed very exhausting. Take good care of yourself. Thinking of you with good thoughts,

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