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Coping Emotionally

Living with a chronic illness can make you feel angry, frustrated, down and even depressed. You will probably need some time to adjust to living with fibromyalgia. Know that you are not alone: fibromyalgia affects up to six percent of the population. Know too that many people with fibromyalgia lead rich and fulfilling lives.

Be patient. As you learn what goals are realistic for you and as you experiment with different treatment strategies, you will likely start to feel better.

Coping strategies are critical for people with fibromyalgia, as they usually feel as if their lives have been turned upside down. If you have fibromyalgia, you may have lost your ability to work, participate in physical activities and socialize, as you did in the past. Some people with fibromyalgia start to believe this and berate themselves for "not doing enough," which can lead to over-activity and "crashing." Developing coping skills and getting emotional support are, therefore, a crucial part of healing.

Social Support

Isolation can be one of the most difficult aspects of having fibromyalgia. Your friends, family and colleagues may not understand your pain and other symptoms, or what you are going through. Your sense of isolation may be compounded by health professionals who do not see your illness as “real” and may not be supportive.

The first step in helping others to understand your condition is to educate yourself, and then educate them. Explain how you’re feeling and be clear about what your limits are – what you can and cannot do at this time.

Many women find that joining a support group, to connect with others who have fibromyalgia, is helpful. Belonging to a community of people who understand and care can provide you with emotional support as well as useful information. You may want to include family and friends in the process and encourage them to air their feelings in a support group setting or with a counsellor. Network with others who support you, through brief telephone calls or emails.

Spiritual Support

Anyone experiencing a chronic illness needs time to grieve the loss of their former life.

Some women find that engaging in activities that cultivate their spiritual growth, such as prayer, yoga, religious services or meditation, is helpful.

Depression and Anxiety

Some people with fibromyalgia feel depressed as a result of their illness and the many lifestyle changes and restrictions that they may have had to cope with, such as being unable to participate in the activities they once enjoyed, as well as possible job, financial or relationship problems. If you have fibromyalgia and think that you may be depressed, talk to your doctor. He or she may be able to refer you to a counsellor or support group.

Many people with fibromyalgia experience anxiety. Relaxation techniques, pacing yourself and developing an attitude that can accommodate your situation will help. However, some individuals require medication to alleviate their anxiety or panic attacks.

Stress management tools may also help you deal with the depression and anxiety that can accompany chronic illness.

Learning More About Your Condition

The more you learn about your condition and the more active you are in your own treatment, the more of a sense of control you will have.

Organizations such as the Arthritis Society, FM-CFS Canada, the British Columbia Fibromyalgia Society, the Ontario Fibromyalgia Association and the ME/FM Action Network offer a wealth of information and information about local support groups where you can learn more and share with others who are living with fibromyalgia.

 

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Fibromyalgia

Medical description

Diagnosis

Living with fibromyalgia

Activity and exercise

Relaxation

Sleep

Diet

Pain relief

Environment

Coping emotionally


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