When Life Doesn’t Give You Lemons: Handling the Stress of Invisible Illness

When Life Doesn’t Give You Lemons: Handling the Stress of Invisible Illness

No matter what each day brings us, at some there will be a challenge or two with which we must deal. For those of us living with a chronic invisible illness, the challenges we face might be more pronounced.

I have learned a lot about my mental strength, tolerance and coping abilities. Sometimes you don’t know how strong you are until you have no choice but to learn through experience. I recently was hit with some obstacles, several that came all at once.

It started a few months ago. August was not an easy month. My total income was cut by half. I was receiving a little financial housing help, which made my rent very affordable. In August this help ended and I had to reapply. When it was finally reinstated my lease was up and I was behind in rent. It was too late, and my landlord asked me to move because I could not get caught up.

On top of that, my ex (divorcing after ending a 16-year marriage) decided to stop paying child support after it was raised recently to more than $500 a month. (That really isn’t a lot if you think about it, but not having that income became the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak). The only way I could cope with everything that was happening was to move in with family for until I can get back on my feet. I realize now this decision probably was the best thing for my kids and me at this point. Sometimes we have to make drastic changes in response to great adversity.

A week ago we put most of our belongings into two storage units and moved in with my mom. I am now at the house where I grew up, which is both comforting and confusing. At times I feel like a failure, like I let my kids down, or that I let myself down. Moving back home is not something that most nearly-40-year-olds would handle well, but I have to look at the positive side of things. For example, I get to spend more time with my mom, there’s room for gardening and for my boys to play outside (we had a very tiny yard), and I have some peace and quiet, which allows time to reflect on what I need to do next.

In the midst of the move I knew a fibro flare was coming. It never fails when I’m under extreme stress or pressure. I either get sick or I have a flare. When I go through a flare the main things that happen are major joint and muscle pain, and horrible migraines.

Here are some of the things I have learned really help when I’m dealing with a flare. The first thing I do is drink a lot of tea with fresh ginger. Fresh ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and can take away my pain. I also put fresh ginger in fruit smoothies. I also had ibuprofen as one of my normal prescribed medications, which also helps with inflammation. Taking hot baths or using a hot tub or sauna really tends to bring a lot of relief, as well.

One of the best pieces of advice I can offer is to find a way to meditate or clear your mind. Stress can really play tricks on your mind and body, so taking time to relax is a great way to relieve stress. Find something you really enjoy doing to refocus your mind and cope with stress. I really enjoy, painting, sewing and crafting, or even the simple act of reading a book, to bring some mental clarity and relieve stress.

For those of you faced with any kind of challenges. When life doesn’t give you lemons, plant your own tree.

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.


  1. Terry says:

    God Bless You as you’ve been put thru the ringer and you’re handling it so well. I’ve been where you are and it’s not fair but you get up dust yourself off and go on!
    I wish you and your children the best!

    • Sandra Wallace says:

      Thank you. I also forgot to add in the midst of this my son had an accident and needed 10 stitches in his knee, in the midst of moving we also spent one night in the ER. I have to keep saying to myself…this too shall pass. Thank you for your kind words.

  2. HJ says:

    Green tea is a natural muscle relaxant. A rheumatologist once wrote it on a prescription pad and handed it to me (along with my pharmaceutical scripts). I’ve found that it actually helps.

    T’ai chi is also very beneficial for relaxation and easing muscle spasms. I wouldn’t recommend that you take a class because holding the postures can aggravate spasms and teachers tend to like to check your form. I use a video to help me practice/learn. I sleep better at night when I do T’ai chi.

    I’m sorry you’re going through such a major transition. Sometimes it also helps to keep things in perspective. Focus on “What can I do today… this minute… to make things better?” Break everything down into small steps that move you forward so that it’s less overwhelming than looking at the BIG picture and trying to foresee the future.

    • Sandra Wallace says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more about doing things in baby steps. I find that at the end of each day I write a to do list for the next day in order of importance. The things that if I don’t get them done, no biggie, go on the bottom. With Fibromyalgia you just never know what tomorrow will bring so you have to plan accordingly. I will try to green tea for sure, I really love the Arizona green tea with honey, it’s not too sweet, I tend to drink that a lot in the summer. I know they have green tea supplements too have you ever tried those? I have tried yoga but I do tend to be pretty sore if I over do that even. I find that walking really is the best low impact exercise in my particular case.

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