I’m not going to lie – last week was rough. When the weather starts to turn cool, my pain levels increase dramatically. This happens every year for some reason. Even though it happens every Fall, it still seems to take me by surprise each year. When the severe pain returns and starts seriously impacting my ability to do things, it’s discouraging, and quite frankly, demoralizing.
When this pain kicks in, it’s easy to start feeling as if things are always going to be this way; that things are never going to get any better. I forget all the forward progress I’ve made over the previous months.
I go through this struggle every year, and every single time, I realize that even though I’m feeling worse than the weeks prior, I’m still feeling much better than I did at the same time the previous year. When I look back at the objective measures of how I’m doing, I start to see that regardless of how I’m feeling, I’ve made progress in many ways.
As I talked about in Lessons From the Grandpa Tree, when dealing with something like fibromyalgia, improvements are not linear. Fibromyalgia seems to have sort of an ebb and flow. There will be times when you feel absolutely awful, but there will also be times that you feel much better.
As I said, I deal with this every year, and over the years, I’ve discovered a few things are helpful for getting through this increase in symptoms.
5 Tips for Dealing with an Increase in Symptoms
1. Admit to yourself how you’re feeling.
I don’t know about you, but when I start to feel down or angry because I feel my body’s letting me down, I just try to press on and ignore it. That works for a little while, but it gets to the point where it just builds up until I can’t ignore it anymore. In the meantime, I’m not doing the things I need to do to feel better. Admitting there’s something going on gives us the opportunity to examine what’s bothering us and what we can do to fix it.
2. Take the time you need to adjust to what’s happening with your body.
If you need to take a day to feel sorry for yourself, do it. Sometimes we need to grieve what we feel we’ve lost, and that’s okay.
If it’s a couple of days’ rest you need, by all means, curl up in your comfy place and rest up.
3. Take an objective look at how things are going.
Having some objective measures of how we’re doing can help us see what’s really going on. It can help us know for sure whether we are getting worse in general, or whether it’s just that “ebb and flow” of fibromyalgia.
What are some of those objective measures? They might include things like what you can do now as compared to a given time before; ie, 6 months ago, a year ago, etc.; strength levels; activity levels…. whatever you’ve set as your measures of progress.
If you realize that your symptoms are, in fact, getting worse, it’s probably time to consult your doctor and work with your medical team to address things such as medications, lifestyle changes you can make, etc.
4. Make adjustments if needed.
Sometimes when symptoms get worse, we need to make adjustments to our self-care plans. Remember, our care plans aren’t set in stone; they’re simply our roadmaps to help us get where we want to be. It never hurts to reassess our plans and see if we need to tweak them.
5. Remember that the way you feel right now probably isn’t the way you’ll feel forever.
When we’re in so much pain and feeling defeated, it’s hard to believe that things will ever get any better, but that doesn’t mean they won’t. Remember – we can’t always trust our feelings – they lie. It’s important to examine our thoughts and discover whether they’re based on fact or whether they’re creating a false narrative for us.
Fibromyalgia can be tough to deal with, and there may be times that we get discouraged. Being able to objectively look at our symptoms enables us to determine whether things are worse long-term or whether it’s a temporary increase. Either way, learning what helps us navigate through the increases in pain and other symptoms can allow us to deal with them and move on.
Of course, these are things that have been helpful for me, but that doesn’t mean they’ll work for everybody. We’re all created differently, and each person has to find what works for them.
How do you deal with increases in pain or other symptoms? What do you find most helpful? Please share!