Coping With Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue
Anyone with a Chronic illness will tell you that’s it’s not an easy thing to remain positive, especially when your feeling stressed, chronically exhausted and your in significant pain. I certainly know this. After all I have experienced with my own health issues I wanted to share this post on coping with Chronic Fatigue CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia.
Here are some tips and thoughts on remaining positive and avoiding the negative, downward spiral CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia can often send us down.
Replacing negative thoughts with positive thinking.
It’s very easy to question why me, why did this happen, why can’t I get well and what did I do wrong. CFS and Fibromyalgia are complex illnesses and usually the answer is not as simple as a maths equation with only one answer.
Rather than focussing on the reasons I am unwell, I now try to look at the ways I can overcome my illness. I may not be able to get rid of the symptoms, but I can control my thoughts and how I react and cope with my circumstances.
For instance I have the choice to say, “I can’t cope with this illness” or to ask “How can I cope with this illness”. This instantly replaces negative and emotionally draining thoughts with more positive and empowering one’s.
In the past, especially when I was first diagnosed I would have felt and said, “but I can’t manage like this”, “I cannot cope”, “it’s too difficult”.
I’m not saying it’s not difficult, learning to manage and cope is a very hard thing to do but it is possible and will help reduce the stress we feel and reduce the negative emotions and energy used alongside the symptoms of the illness.
So how do I change my thoughts ?
It’s not always easy to identify negative thought patterns, especially if this is something we have become used to. I bought myself a little note pad and every time I had a negative thought I wrote it down. I then challenged my thoughts to find the truth.
The key to changing our thought’s is to challenge them!
If I thought, “my life is miserable, I cannot do anything and will never get better. I could write this down and then challenge this negative thinking. I might ask myself is this really true?. This would then lead me to create a more positive thought. ie, I am unwell, I can’t do everything I want to but I can do some things, my symptoms may improve if I take time to rest because this is a fluctuating illness.
Another negative thought might be,
“I cannot finish this task, I have no energy, it will burn me out, I’m in too much pain, there is no point, I might as well give up. If I were to challenge this, I may find a more positive reality for example, “I may not be able to finish it right now or today, but if I pace myself and take a break I can come back and do a little bit at a time. Then I’ll eventually get this done and complete the task.
It’s not easy to recognise negative thought patterns, never mind challenge them, which is why I started with a little note book. I then developed the ability to do this without writing my thoughts down and continue to challenge the negative thought’s that tend to enter my mind as my symptoms get worse.
I haven’t even mastered this myself. I still have difficult times. i simply need to keep trying to remain positive especially when I feel my worst.
Here are some of the negative thought’s or thinking styles I found myself in as one diagnosed with CFS and Fibromyalgia.
1. Emotional Reasoning
Assuming that because I feel a certain way it must be true.
2. Should, Must, Ought to
Using critical words like “should” “must and “have to” can cause us to feel guilty and feel like we have failed.
Saying untruths such as I’m completely useless and “I’m a loser”
Blaming myself for becoming unwell when it is not actually my fault.
5. Jumping to Conclusions
An example would be mind reading and assuming you know what others are thinking or predicting the future when you really don’t know what will happen.
Discounting the good things that happen, such as a good day or a positive achievement when your unwell.
Blowing things out of proportion to make it seem far worse than it actually is.
8. All or Nothing
This is sometimes called black or white thinking and causes one to think “I’m not perfect so I’m a failure” or if I can’t get out, then I will never be happy.
As I and other’s who suffer from CFS/ME and Fibromyalgia seek to recognise and challenge our negative thoughts, this can help us to remain more positive through chronic illness, to cope better with our challenges and have the confidence to know we can be positive despite the many difficulties thrown in our path.