Learning to Accept Fibromyalgia, Part Four: Taking Care of Your ‘Self’

Learning to Accept Fibromyalgia, Part Four: Taking Care of Your ‘Self’

Now that you have gone through a barrage of emotions that accompany the diagnosis of fibromyalgia, such as coping over the loss or change of a career, or lack of support from others, you may wonder “Where do I go from here?” While it is not under the best of circumstances, it is necessary to create a lifestyle that matches your current functioning level. Creating a lifestyle that suits your new needs and functions will enable you to take care of your “self.” This includes emphasizing your strengths, and acknowledging your  limitations.

It is important to remember is that the person inside still exists. Your personality, opinions, thoughts, and whole being is still here.

Maintaining a low-impact environment surrounded by hobbies, joy and comfort goes a long way toward keeping certain aspects of your “self'” alive. This type of environment and lifestyle also can help reduce stress-related flares.

As I have previously stated, the loss of my career in clinical research was a stinger to my heart. I still live vicariously by reading up on current medical research. This sometimes fuels my passion to share with former colleagues or friends who may be interested.  My love for reading has never faltered because of fibromyalgia. I just may not have the ability to read as often as I like. When I do read, I rely on a lap book holder. I have considered audio books for times when my hands and arms are too stiff and painful.

I enjoy reading autobiographies the most, as well as word-finding puzzles. Over the past couple years, I have even taken up my husband’s interest in crossword puzzles. Instead of reading mysteries, such as Sherlock Holmes or Perry Mason, I prefer to watch the shows on television, and try to solve the “whodunit” before it is revealed. This makes me feel I am still exercising my brain. Doing housework also is important to me, and I enjoy making things clean and tidy. Plus, cleaning allows me to exercise my inner control freak!

There are few times that the stars align and enable me to attend a special event, aside from doctors’ appointments, so making my home my haven is mandatory.

Requirements for my haven include:

  • keeping it free of clutter (except my husband’s office)
  • keeping it organized (especially on those fibro fog days when I misplace something)
  • comfortable furniture and soft blankets
  • pictures of loved ones

Being surrounded by nature (plants, garden decor, and hummingbird feeders) helps give me a sense of inner peace, especially during spring and summer, my two favorite seasons. The only other environment that gives me the ability to breathe deeply and just “be” is the beach. The opportunity for that occurrence is extremely variable, so at home I focus on the inexpensive touches (like my plants) that bring added pleasure as I sit on my chaise lounge and take in the beautiful, warm days.

The main joys I treasure are my husband, growing puppy and the other loved ones in my life. Fibromyalgia may force a decrease in functioning and readjustments in attitude. But finding the people, pets and events in life that create a spontaneous laugh and smile within one’s soul remains an important aspect of taking care of your “self.”

Editor’s note: This column completes the “Learning to Accept Fibromyalgia Series.” You can read the previous installments to this series here: “Part One: Coping and Careers”  “Part Two: Delving Into Your Emotions  “Part Three: Anguish”

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. Denise Bault says:

    What a nice article! We may have changed because of this illness, but as a friend told me once, “Perhaps this is God’s way of telling you to slow down a bit.” How true for all of us and especially for those of us that have a Type A personality. I’m currently at a crawl. 🙂 I, too, try to find joy in the little things. Unfortunately, I haven’t quite got the energy to “simplify.” Every time I start, I wonder what I’m going to do with all this “stuff.” Then I wonder how much of it I will need when I have to move again – which I will – due to this illness! It’s quite the conundrum being on a fixed income, unsure of what the future holds. But I guess that holds true for everyone, doesn’t it? Anyone have any suggestions?

    • Lori Galpeer says:

      Thanks very much Denise! On my good days, I can’t help but think of those who don’t experience a bit of energy. I can understand the frustration you may feel for on my regular, and bad, days I know things I want to do but just don’t have the motivation or energy to do so. Since my hubby is not of the same organization style, and is a bit of a procrastinator, for little things (such as hanging up shelves; changing light fixture) that I need his assistance can create a lot of stress when I want things better organized in the home. He has his office and the garage as his ‘man cave’ so that he can be as messy as he wants to be, and I can just close the door and not look at it. I am sorry you will have to move because of this crappy illness! Isn’t fair what this illness does to our entire being that at times can result in a House of Cards being jostled. If I could still work, my husband would be able to retire right now, and wouldn’t have a part-time job on the side. Having to worry about keeping afloat financially shouldn’t have to be an added concern for us. From my experiences, it appears to come down to finding your niche’ and having a supportive, accommodating employer. Love to hear suggestions from others.

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