When I was studying psychology in college, the one theory that always stuck in my mind was Maslow’s Heirachy of Needs. This theory fully explained human behavior as a whole to me. The theory that Abraham Maslow created is similar, in a sense, to the periodic table of elements (for those fibro warriors who still remember biology class in seventh grade).
Maslow explains that human needs vary on different levels, and what drives people depends on where they are on that very pyramid of needs. For example, if your very simple and fundamental needs are not met, such as food, water shelter, emotional needs, etc., then one can’t progress to the next stage of time. This theory resonates with me perfectly as someone with an invisible illness.
So, what has this to do with fibromyalgia?
For those of us living with fibromyalgia, we might be only one or two steps beyond having our most basic needs met. When we are constantly under stress, or in fight-or-flight mode, it is really hard to focus on other needs. Therefore, we might not be taking proper care of our health as a whole. For example, if you are having financial struggles, it becomes very easy to put your health on the back burner. As a mom of two little ones, and while going through a divorce, I’ve found this to be increasingly true. I know I have to take care of myself to stay healthy enough to care for my boys, but the day-to-day challenges make it easy to forget appointments, forget to take my medication, or even to miss an exam or X-ray from time to time.
According to an article I recently read in the American Psychological Association, “As you move up the socioeconomic status hierarchy, your health aspects continue to improve.” Makes sense, right? But what does this mean for patients with fibromyalgia or other invisible illnesses? Does it mean it’s harder to climb Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? I think so. We have more day-to-day challenges than most.
So, how do we climb that ladder without getting stuck? The first thing I had to do was accept my limitations. I always have been one to push myself, even when I don’t feel well. I recently had to learn new ways to find the balance I needed so desperately in my life.
Monumental connection between health and wealth
I like to compare the two concepts to the “chicken or the egg theory” (i.e., which came first?). I think when you are more financially stable before becoming ill, the easier it becomes to manage it. If you were at a lower level on the wealth totem poll when you became ill, then becoming financially stable becomes increasingly harder. If you think about it, the more financially secure you are, the easier it is to focus on aspects of life on a different level. In addition, once you become secure in your life it also brings down your stress levels.
For anyone suffering from fibromyalgia, you know how much stress can take a toll on your health. If I’m under a lot of stress I know a flare is near, and I try to prepare for it the best I can. I try to rally support by calling family and friends who know what I’m going through. My mom has been a huge help and a crutch when I need her. I also plan meals, grocery shop a week or two in advance and make to-do lists according to importance.
Living with fibromyalgia is a huge challenge, but I know we all can climb that financial ladder, although we might just do it a little slower. Slow progress is still progress, and for that I’m grateful.
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.