Recognizing and Taming the Emotional Pain of Fibromyalgia

Recognizing and Taming the Emotional Pain of Fibromyalgia

Through the Fog

I don’t have to tell you that fibromyalgia wreaks havoc on our emotions, right? Being in constant pain can bring out the worst in us. But, believe it or not, it also can bring out the best.

Some emotions triggered by our pain are fear, anger, sadness, depression, anxiety, helplessness, hopelessness, or feeling like a failure. Sometimes it feels like the age-old question chicken-egg question: Which came first, the emotional pain or the physical pain?

It really doesn’t matter, does it?

Allow yourself to feel your emotions, but just don’t get stuck there. It really helps to have understanding medical providers, friends who help you have fun times, family who are willing to support and encourage. Good therapists are worth their weight in gold. I know some of us don’t have that, so your homework, if you will, is to begin to cultivate or establish some of those relationships. Will it be easy and comfortable? Probably not. But it will pay off.

Sometimes depression is a separate piece; sometimes it’s a result of the chronic pain, severe limitations, and/or grief from losing who you were and knowing fibromyalgia is currently incurable. If your depression is severe, talk to your doctor because antidepressants can really help. Smiling every time you think of it lifts your mood. Positive affirmations spoken aloud daily also can make a difference.

Fear is a terrifying emotion with which no one feels comfortable. So many fears come into play and I’m sure you can relate to one or more. The fear of healing or not healing. The fear of abandonment and being left to walk this road alone. The fear of people not believing you or accepting your diagnosis and limitations. The fear of being socially isolated, because you sometimes cancel plans at the last minute, or you just stop receiving invitations. What other fears come to mind?

Sometimes our fears can lead to anger. It can be helpful to talk with someone to find healthy ways to deal with anger. Lots of people find release in journaling — no filter needed. I know sometimes it’s hard, really hard, but try not to take it out on the people who care about you.

Please don’t give in to feeling like a failure; you did nothing to deserve this or to bring it on. The fact is we live in a broken world, and yes, bad things happen to us all in different ways at different times. You are not to blame for your illness. You may not feel it, but it’s making you a stronger, more compassionate person. I found that I have mellowed and now I am a much more compassionate listener.

I have a few books I can recommend. If you are interested in learning more, leave a comment or email me. Please share your feelings here, and share this column on your social media so others might benefit, too.

Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

31 comments

  1. Rita Cooney says:

    Every article Robin writes hits home dramatically. Thank you once again for making me not feel alone in my struggles . Your wisdom is most appreciated and helpful.

      • Denise Bault says:

        Donna, find ANOTHER doctor! I fired my rheumatologist. I think he was trying to help, but there was only so much he could prescribe/do. I would highly recommend going to a pain management specialist. I think they may understand fibromyalgia better. I’ve been getting trigger point injections from mine for a year an a half now and they have helped tremendously! And he BELIEVES/KNOWS that fibromyalgia is real. A lot of ignorant docs don’t, so find a smart one who does! Quit wasting your valuable time and energy on one who doesn’t. WE ALL KNOW IT’S REAL!

    • Donna Welcher says:

      I,am so sick right now And in excrutiating pain and they are doing nothing ,they are telling me I have to learn to live like this

      • Robin Dix says:

        Donna, I know this was responding to Rita, but I would really encourage you to check out different doctors until you find someone that will listen and give you the proper help. No one needs to just learn to live with it. Are there any functional medicine doctors where you are?

        • Don Fiore says:

          Well in all reality, we do all need to learn to live with it. It is a chronic condition in which there is no one certain treatment that is a fix for everybody. They don’t even know what causes it yet, nevermind find a proper treatment. Until they find the cause so that they can devlopment proper treatment, it is something we all need to try to manage somehow – that’s all that we can do. Some are fortunate and after trying a few things they find something that helps, but doesn’t cure. Then there are others, like us, that still haven’t found anything yet. I can tell you this, you are not alone. Seems most everybody on this site is going through it. Best I can tell you is to keep trying. I think reading these stories and comments will help you some. Wishing you, and everyone else that must deal with this dreaded disease, the best. Also, Happy Holidays!

          • Robin Dix says:

            Yes Don, I agree. We also need to be our own best advocate in the medical community. I also wish you and everyone here an amazing holiday season! ????????

      • Denise Bault says:

        Donna, I agree with Don. Yes, we all have to learn to live with this. Otherwise, we’d be dead, now wouldn’t we? However, if you are not receiving relief from the providers you are seeing, you must find others! It has taken me at least 27 different medications, too many therapies and supplements to count and 13 years to FINALLY feel as if I have “stabilized” and gotten part of my life back. There were times I was so despondent, in so much pain and so sleep deprived, that I seriously considered suicide. The Good Lord helped me through those times and continues to help to this day. Keep trying. I know it is hard, but some relief may come before you know it. You just need to find the right combination for yourself as we are all different… please know that we are all here for you!

    • Robin Dix says:

      Karen, I emailed you. But here is my current list:

      Fibromyalgia for Dummies by Roland Staud, MD

      Figuring out Fibromyalgia by Ginevra Liptan

      Foods That Fight Fibromyalgia by Deirdre Rawlings

      Take Back Your Life by Tami Stackhouse

      The Woman’s Fibromyalgia Toolkit by Dawn Marcus, MD

      Why Can’t People Understand by Lisa J. Copen

      Why Doesn’t God Fix It by Kimberly Rae

      You’re Sick, They’re Not by Kimberly Rae

      The Cross of Chronic Pain and the Nail of Invisible Illness by Michelle Myers

  2. Denise Bault says:

    What a wonderful article! The only thing I would add is to NOT let people dictate to you how you’re supposed to feel. (“Just suck it up buttercup, but you don’t LOOK sick, I’m tired of hearing about how sick you are…”) We are all human. We all hurt in different ways. Some people can be so dismissive, because they cannot see or feel the pain WE feel each and every day- along with the myriad of other strange symptoms with which we contend. If you can afford and can find a good therapist, it can be a Godsend! My therapist, along with one of my doctors, told me I NEEDED to file for disability! I was shocked at the time. However, I’m glad I followed their advice as it took quite a long time to be approved and I really could no longer work. It certainly was not the direction I thought my life was going to be heading…but I have found many joys, kind new friends, as well as enlightenment because of this horrible illness. Tomorrow the glass may be half empty, but today it is half full! 🙂

  3. Don says:

    Thanks Robin! I am interested in these other books you wrote about. Also, how were you able to create multiple revenue streams while bedridden? I went on short-term disability I November 2015. After 6 months I applied for longterm disability and it was denied – fighting that now with a lawyer. I was also laid off during the time I was out on short term disability. I am often bedridden, sometimes for 3 days at a time. I have no idea how I could ever be employable when I never know when I will be down and for how long. It is very frustrating and disheartening. Any advice and guidance would be greatly appreciated.

  4. Carolyn Holgate says:

    You’re using your illness as a ministry to bless others like myself also in the health battle. Well done! Gotta give back even in the midst of our struggles.

  5. Darlene says:

    Robin,

    This comment is off subject to this article. I noticed Don’s comment about often being bedridden for three days at a time. Me too. Or maybe just two days. I’ve reached the elderly stage of life and the more time I’m in bed or in my recliner the faster I lose muscle and bone density. Has anyone else notice this? Does anyone have suggestions for combating this loss and even recovering muscle and bone loss?

    • Robin Dix says:

      Darlene, feel free to post about anything, even off topic. Sometimes I think it’s a catch 22. With the incredible fatigue I spend most of my day in bed. I can sit for about 2 hours at a time. I try to walk daily, but it’s hard in the winter. Have you tried doing weight training!

    • vivianne says:

      Hi Darlene, I have advanced Osteoporosis so, I take a bone supplement every morning first thing in morning, I also walk 1hr or even 1/2hr every mornings, that helps with the bones and the muscles……take care, Fibromyalgia change our life but it is possible to manage it….

    • Denise Bault says:

      Darlene, the research I’ve done says the best exercise for fibromyalgia sufferers are: walking, biking, swimming and yoga. The first three are more aerobic, bicycling and yoga have some strength training. (For those who have never tried yoga, we each do it at our OWN level. I currently have a lot of 60-80 year olds in the class I attend!) I know what you mean about loss of muscle mass. I’m only 58 and I’m showing real signs of it. Weight training would have to be very light for me, as the muscle spasms go into overdrive. Honestly, I think the most important thing to do is just get up and move! What’s that old saying? Move it or lose it! That’s true for everyone, healthy or not. I’m trying to hold onto what I’ve got for a while longer. Even if it’s a walk around the block or one around the mall…just do it! It will make you feel better and will help you get out of your own head. When I first got out there, I could only walk around the block once. I did it every day for a week. The second week, I went around twice…until I was up to eight times. Start slowly and enjoy the scenery! You’ll be surprised at what you see…

  6. Robin W. says:

    Thank you Robin. I am working with a counsellor over the phone, and its helping me to decipher the internal critical voice and also to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I had left my job as a result of the fibro symptoms becoming chronic. You truly are an inspiration and just being able to read your articles and others posts is SO helpful. I will look into your book list. Thanks again and Happy holidays – hope you are taking enough time to take care of you. -Robin

    • Robin Dix says:

      Robin W. I’m so glad you’re getting some counseling. Sometimes it’s just what we need. Thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot to me! Happy Holidays to you as well!

  7. Becky Anne Hilditch says:

    Robin, Your article comes to me at a time when I am feeling emotionally overwhelmed. I was diagnosed with fibro after my third child was born 19 years ago. I read everything I could get my hands on concerning fibro, however, when I was first diagnosed, my pain was manageable. Over the years I began experiencing insomnia, brain fog, and the feeling of being constantly run over by a loaded semi-truck. I have been experiencing this kind of pain much more often now and has caused me to miss a week of work at a time. I just had a 10 day “vacation” for the holidays. I was bedridden or recliner ridden for most of my “vacation”. The feeling of helplessness during my favorite time of year caused depression and isolation from those I love. I am so exhausted that I just fall asleep, even in the middle of a conversation. I am just so sick of being sick all the time. I miss the person that I once was and am not too fond of the achy, depressed, and unresponsive person I have become.

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