Thriving squash plants with text overlay: What Does It Mean To Thrive With Fibromyalgia?

What Does It Mean To Thrive With Fibromyalgia?

Are there ever days when you feel like a fraud?

Sometimes I do. I talk about thriving with Fibromyalgia, but there are days my illness and its associated problems cause things to come to a screeching halt.  Just recently I had to take time away from the computer due to eye issues. This is a recurring problem for me. It’s frustrating because it happens at the most inopportune times and I get behind with anything computer-related.

When the realities of chronic illness punch me in the face like this,  I wonder just how much I’m really thriving.

As I thought about this, I remembered all the things I did do while I couldn’t use the computer much: finishing up one of my Continuing Ed courses and making progress on the other one, my office ‘one thing’ each day, etc.. I realized that regardless of how I was feeling, I was progressing in other areas.

This really drove something home for me. The ability to thrive is not contingent on feeling well or being able to do the same things other people are doing. Thriving means that we are growing, moving forward, living with purpose. 

As I talked about in Lessons From the Grandpa Tree, this growth and forward movement are not always linear. Sometimes we grow a lot, and sometimes we just hunker down and wait out the storms. During those periods we may not have as much forward movement, but it doesn’t mean we’re not growing.

The reality of living with a chronic illness is that there are going to be days when we just have to acknowledge our limitations. We have to work within the confines of our illness. That doesn’t mean we’re not thriving. It simply means we’re smart enough to figure out what our bodies need.

Thriving can look different for each individual. Let’s look at how defines it:

Thrive: to prosper, be fortunate or successful

to grow or develop vigorously; flourish

See how personal this is? Each person has to figure out what prosperity, fortune and success looks like for them. Only they know if they’re growing and flourishing.

So how do we figure out what it means for us personally to thrive?

Asking ourselves a few questions might help. Here are some that have helped me reframe things when I’ve been feeling discouraged about my lack of progress, or when my illness has kept me from doing things I wanted to do.

  • How do I feel about my life as a whole? This is important, because at those times when we’re stopped by our illness, that’s all we can see. Just because that’s all we can see doesn’t mean that’s all there is though….
  • What’s working well for me?
  • Do I feel that I’m thriving right now? If not, what would need to improve for me to feel that I am?
  • What does success mean for me?
  • What is one thing in my life that I’m happy about right now?
  • What relationships am I thankful for? Which ones need work?
  • What are some things I can do on those days I have limitations?
  • What would growth look like for me at this point?
  • What am I thankful for right now?

These are only a few questions to help us determine what thriving when we live with a chronic illness looks like. Looking at our answers can help us get past the feelings we have and see things more objectively.

If we feel we’re not thriving at the moment, that’s okay too. Sometimes with a chronic illness, as I said above, we just have to hunker down and ride out the storms.

The important thing to remember is that, rather than concentrating on our limitations, we need to nurture the things that will help us flourish. That’s how we truly thrive.

What questions would you add to this list? What helps you know whether you’re thriving or just surviving? Please share!



Zucchini thriving in a garden box with text overlay: What Does It Mean to Thrive with Fibromyalgia?


    1. Oh Laura, I’m so sorry you’re feeling that way…. I hope you can be kind to yourself and remember that failing at something doesn’t mean we’re a failure. We’re all going to fail sometimes, but what’s important is what we do with that failure. Hang in there sweet friend, and remember, you are enough! Sending love and hugs your way.

    2. I bet if Terri said she felt like a fraud and feels like a failure, you’d be the first to reassure her and your kindness would be something she would remember for a long time to come! Be that person to yourself, you have obviously been too strong for too long. We were there once upon a time! Le gra, Marie

  1. “The ability to thrive is not contingent on feeling well or being able to do the same things other people are doing” – You have phrased that perfectly. I think the definition and the perspective on what thriving means matters here; it’s not necessarily all about things like money and career. If we can look beyond those things, our limitations, the things we can’t do, we can look at what we can do, what makes us happy, what we can do to keep moving forward in ways that are meaningful to us personally.
    Brilliant post, Terri. You thrive with the best of them  ♥
    Caz xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! You captured what it means to thrive so beautifully. As you said, it’s not all about the money or a career, but rather, “moving forward in ways that are meaningful to us personally.” I hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Sending hugs!

  2. Thriving means that we are growing, moving forward, living with purpose…… You said it perfectly! So many people think when you are sleeping you are not doing anything, but science tells us that this is when our brains grow the most. I think it would help alot of people deal with the “down days”, if they consider them recharging days.

    1. Thank you so much Grace! I love the concept of recharging days. As you said, if we could just learn to think of our down days in those terms, it would probably help a lot. Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend!

  3. This post is exactly what I needed to read today……….some days I can handle all this mess and some days a big NOPE! But, I try to remind myself that I need to just keep moving forward…….which sometimes has a trip to the side or a few steps back……..but eventually it is forward again!
    Thanks for always being so helpful to others.

    1. Thank you so much Wendi! It’s easy to let those feelings take over when we’re in a flare or experiencing difficulties, but that doesn’t mean we’re not thriving… As you said, it’s not always a straight line forward, but as long as we continue to put one foot in front of another, it’s progress. Sending hugs your way!

  4. Terri, a brilliant post explaining how we all think thriving means to us which is quite different to what the dictionary says. It says it means ‘to proper, be fortunate or successful, to grow and to flourish’. It’s funny how some words can change their meaning in different circumstances xx

    1. Thanks so much Bar! I think prosperity, fortune and success means different things to different people. As you said, they can also change their meanings under different circumstances. Hope you’re doing well dear friend!

  5. With chronic illness we need to look through different lenses at what success is in our days, as you mention Terri.
    Some days, success is just literally getting out of bed, getting dressed & trying to live a somewhat ‘normalized life’!
    Each of us also need to take into account our individual capacity on any given day within chronic illness.

    My tip is; being kind & patient with ourselves, as quite often we are our greatest critics!
    Bless you,

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Jennifer! I’m so sorry – somehow your comment ended up in my spam folder… I agree that we’re often our own greatest critics. One of the best gifts we can give ourselves is to treat ourselves with grace and kindness. Blessings to you!

      1. Hope it lifts some soon sweet friend. Sending very gentle hugs your way.

    1. Thanks so much Michelle! Like you, I think we need to take the time every so often to stop and evaluate. Sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised by what we find and others, we’re able to see what we need to work on. Hope you’re doing well sweet friend!

  6. Hi Terri, your post is so relevant and honest! I had one of those days yesterday, where everything had to come to a standstill. It was payback time for a pressurised week! Surviving such a day and treating yourself with the respect you deserve is a sign of thriving. Allowing ourselves the space to recover is thriving too. I’ve written out your list of questions and intend to reflect on them! I’m also mentioning you in my next B&B post and sharing the lovely summary you wrote of my blog, when you nominated me for a recent award. Keep these excellent, encouraging, thought provoking posts coming! xx

  7. Thank you so much Marie! I’m sorry you had such a pressure-filled week. Those can really do us in sometimes, can’t they? I love what you said, “Surviving such a day and treating yourself with the respect you deserve is a sign of thriving. Allowing ourselves the space to recover is thriving too.” I think we too often think things have to be perfect for us to be thriving, but if that were the case, probably none of us would ever be able to say we were thriving — things are never completely perfect, but that doesn’t mean they’re not great. I look forward to your next post, sweet friend!

  8. I truly enjoyed this post Terri. We do need to take the time in our lives to take stock in what we have and re-evaluate what our priorities are. Very thought provoking post.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Mark! I agree with you about taking stock and reevaluating our priorities. I know there are times that I end up giving my time to the urgent instead of the important, which means I’m not giving enough time to what’s really important sometimes. I hope you’re doing well, my friend!

  9. I’m so glad I read this blog post of yours. I have Fibromyagia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It took me many years to learn to live within my limitations, and sometimes I forget. My brain likes to make plans for my body to do things it’s no longer able to carry out. That part of my brain sets me up for disappointment and feelings of guilt. In this post-healthy stage of my life I’ve become a blogger and a writer. Writing gives me great joy and a level of contentment. Great blog post!

    1. Thank you so much Janet! Like you, I sometimes forget that I need to be mindful of my limitations and then get disappointed when my body can’t live up to my expectations. I’m glad you’ve found something that gives you so much joy. Finding those things helps us so much, doesn’t it? Thanks for following – I look forward to getting to know you!

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