Are Fibromyalgia Support Groups Always Helpful? 

No.

Support Groups are to help you with many things, including a place that you feel comfortable to share your discomfort resentment, fear, emotional and physical set backs.  If your group is only focusing on these feelings, is it truly helping you?  No.

It seems that Support Groups have become a place to only give understanding that everyone who has Fibro experiences pain (at times it seems to have become a competition who has it harder), and there is nothing you can do but blame and complain. 

Complain, yes I did use that word.  It is sharing the first, second, and even third time you have the same discussion of what you are experiencing.  It becomes complaining, when the group meetings only discuss how you feel without offering new tools, coping skills, education, and trying to find the solution.

It is not enough to just state the problem.

Your Support Group should allow you your moment to express your frustration, anger, resentment, guilt, fear, feeling of isolation, but it should not just stop there.  It is not enough to express how you feel.  What are you doing to make your situation better.  What is your Support Group offering you in the way of help to move forward?

To state a problem in a group without implementing new coping skills, tools, updated relevant information, along with challenging your comfort zone, is a group of people just complaining  what they dislike about their life.  Depressing. 

It is not HELPING you.

This does not mean that I disagree with Support Groups.  The complete opposite.  Support Groups can be a wonderful, encouraging, positive group environment that offers not only a sense of belonging, but a place that allows you to express yourself, challenges you, offers new perspectives, as well as tools and options that can and will offer you a better way of living. 

Does your Support Group do this? 

Or has your Support Group become focused on the symptoms, anger and negative feelings?  Which with all honestly is easy to do.

If you are in a Support Group I ask you to look, be honest, do not lie or justify it to yourself.  Is your Suppport Group focused on the negative or the positive?  When you leave, have you learned something new?  Have you found a way to look at something in a different way?  Have they celebrated your triumphs?  Are you progressing?  If you are at a standstill it may be time for you to look for a new group.

If you are looking for a Support Group with individuals who are working TOWARDS a common, who help, encourage, motivate, and offers tools towards those goals, it will be a wonderful experience where you will gain a wonderful network of friends and support.  Here are couple of things that will help you on your journey to finding the right group for you;

~Feel comfortable within the group
~A place to compare notes about resources (Doctors, alternative therapies, drugs)
~Getting practical advice and up to date information about treatment options
~Learning new skills, tools, coping skills
~TALKING OPENLY AND HONESTLY ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS
~Clearly stated "confidentiality" agreement
~Open discussions and offering new perspectives
~Regular Meetings

A Support Group will not allow you to stay and focused on your setbacks, instead they will give you an ear, empathy, understanding, encouragement, and help you move to a better life, to the goals you have set and celebrate with you.



 
 
When  I was diagnosed with Fibromyaglia, the first to the fourth time I was adamant it was anything but Fibro. The  research, the information provided, and all that I came across it all said the same thing I had been sentenced to a life filled with a varying degree of the symptoms that I was currently experiencing, which could turn to a debilitating
state.  Nothing offered anything  but temporary relief if you were lucky.   After all that I had to “look forward” to, denial was my best friend.

 It was not until my family doctor told me I had to accept this, I had to accept it was Fibromyalgia.  It compared it
to Diabetes.  People live and function normally with Diabetes, they just have to make a few changes.  Until I accepted that I had Fibromyalgia, there would be no improvement.  

I went home thinking “Ok you say I can live normally with Fibro, and it is simple.  Where are the solutions?  Tell me the changes that will let me live with Fibromyalgia.”  
 
It wasn’t until a few years later that I fully understood this.  Accepting that I have Fibromyalgia does not mean I am accepting the pain and additional symptoms that come with Fibromyalgia.  

This is a misunderstanding that I have come across many times with myself, and with others.

 When you were diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, did you accept that you had Fibro, and if so, did your acceptance include the idea that you would be in some form of pain for the rest of your life?

 Your mind is one of your best weapons, but it can also be one of the biggest enemies.  The acceptance of pain
with Fibromyalgia is setting yourself up for failure.  All treatments you choose, medicinal, traditional, or alternative, will
never bring you great success, you have already told and accepted that you will always be in a varying degree of pain.

Part of Fibromyalgia and getting better is changing the way you think.   Releasing the negative for the positive.  Try this with acceptance.  

Accept  your diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, do not accept that sentence.   Accept your diagnosis and accept you will find the way that will lead you to the path of a Dormant State of Fibromyalgia.
 
 
“It is in your head”

Anyone with Fibromyalgia or a Chronic Pain Condition that is not readily visible has heard this.

However, what if Fibromyalgia was a mental problem?
 

How many expletives have come to your mind, after reading that? 

As someone who has heard this phrase a lot, and come across the outside opinion that it is a mental problem, I am challenging you to let down your protests, guards, and preconceptions and simply be open to what I am saying.

Of course all those who have Fibromyalgia experience the breath catching pain, and all the symptoms that come with Fibro, that is not a figment of the imagination or a cry for attention. I am offering the perspective of the wholistic side.

One believes that physical problems, pain, diseases can be a result of a mental cause, negativity, not expressing yourself, or holding on to emotions like resentment, judgment, guilt, anger, hate, and fear to name a few. When these are not dealt with, let go, and instead are being held onto it can have a physical effect. If your mind, spirit wants you to deal with something, want you to change a part of your life that will improve it, or help you see what is not in your best interest the easiest and most effective way to get your attention is to give you physical pain or a physical problem.

I will give myself as an example; my greatest pain was in the pelvic region, and hip area. From the first time I had excruciating menstrual pain that only increased when I had Fibromyalgia. Every Doctor had told me it is part of nature, offered medications, or breathing exercises. At times some did offer relief, when the Fibro was present none helped. I spoke to a Doctor (believed in a more natural side of healing, and medication should be a temporary solution not a long term crutch) who actually went through my case history and after an hour or so, history completed, asked if I had ever looked at the hip pain and sexual abuse that had occurred when I was younger. I was stunned, this was an issue I avoided, never talked about, and considered it part of my past. After bringing it up and speaking about it, dealing with it, and letting it go, along with the guilt I still felt and resentment, the pain was gone. To this day it is gone. I have seen this in more individuals than I thought possible.

Some will say “oh that was an extreme case”, “I wasn’t sexually abused”,and so on. I am not going to convert the world, and am not trying to, I simply want you to stop and think. 

The guilt you feel for the condition you are in and not being able to do/live how you want. The anger you have for the relationship you are in and not able to get out. The anger you feel at others for saying insensitive comments, or not getting the help or understanding you want from your family and loved ones. The resentment you have for watching others do what you want. These are just a few. Even if you do not believe that your physical issues are not mentally caused, think about the effect these now have on your body in the present.

There are many books, you can even google it that will tell you what the mental cause of a pain is. One of the most popular books is “Heal Your Body” by Louise L. Hay. In it she has the mental cause for the physical problem, along with a positive affirmation. There are two I will share with you. The first;

Chronic Diseases; A refusal to change. Fear of the future. Not feeling safe.
The affirmation: I am willing to change and to grow. I now create a safe, new future.

The second;

Pain; Guilt. Guilt always seeks punishment.
The affirmation: I lovingly release the past. They are free and I am free. All is well in my heart now.

For some this will resonate, for others it will not.

Should you choose to take a look at this, do not think if you say these two things and do not deal with what is causing the guilt, fear, or other issues you will become pain free. It is a journey that opens many doors once one has been opened.

Whether you believe there is a mental cause, a physical cause to Fibro, you need to be healthy on all aspects to function at the highest level. The only way to do that is to truly be honest within yourself, take responsibility and change what you want and need to change. The hardest, but most rewardingtask you will go through. 
 

 
 
Throughout the last couple of years I have come across many who  have challenged my diagnosis, said the Doctors were mistaken, and on the rare  occasion I mimicked the symptoms, all because I found a path for me that works  and allows me to the present time to live a pain free life.

Many are misdiagnosed with Fibro for various reasons, many use  self diagnosis to say they are living with Fibromyalgia (at no time should a  diagnosis of any syndrome or disease be done, only a diagnosis by a Medical Professional should be used).   Allow me to first explain my diagnosis (I would not normally do this, but  I do not want the emails asking who diagnosed me or how I was diagnosed).  I was diagnosed in 2006, after a year  of symptoms, by two separate Doctors, a Rheumatologist and a few months later a
Pain Specialist.  In 2009 I was then diagnosed again by a Psychiatrist who is also a Pain Specialist.  These three diagnosis’ were done in addition to my GPs.  
 
Now to the real reason why I am writing this blog entry.  When I was going through my  days of dealing with the daily pain (which would rival labour), I remember looking at my family, friends, and even Doctors and think you do not understand, how can you really support me?  You walk through your daily life without pain, not restricted, not in tears, not wishing for a single second to be able to breathe, move or think without pain.  You begin to resent, get angry, and at time entitled (for me at least). 
 
I turned to the online community, people who were experiencing what I was, people who could relate, and understand and hopefully even educate and help.  These people were wonderful, understanding, and provided me with information that was helpful.  In 2010 when I started to find my way to a pain free life (for now), the more frequent my status said “Good Days” fewer people would respond to me, even
when asked how they were.   I remember I changed my status to “Pain Free” the very first time and I was so  happy. When I saw messages in my inbox, I had thought they would be “are you joking, really you are pain free”,  “how”, “congrats”, instead I was greeted by“you should go back to the Dr. you
never had Fibro in the first place”.  Huh?  I was very confused. 

I went through more than anyone should go through (and yet I am not the worse sufferer out there), I went to places that I thought I would never see, I wasted (so I thought at the time) years of my life living
in pain, I gave up dreams, passed on experiences, pushed away friends and relationships, because of Fibro.  This was all negated because I no longer experienced this, I no longer sat in the house restricted by Fibro.  Why?  Is this any different than a child in school only playing with another child because he has the newest and latest game, and when it breaks or something newer comes out you stop playing with him? 

Every person diagnosed with Fibromyalgia experiences it in their own unique way, which in turn means that the way the individual chooses to manage it, treat it, and even quiet it is just as unique as their experience with Fibro.  When a success is found with Fibro (no success is small, all are great and powerful) it is to be celebrated by the community, shared (especially in the Medical world), and supported (whether it will or will not work for you). Any success whether it is or is not personal is still a success for the fight against Fibromyalgia.

Just because you do not see it or experience it does not mean it is not possible, or make that persons journey any less powerful, important or true.  


 
 
I woke up today, and throughout the day I have had the feeling that I should write about the darkness I felt, went through and had to come out of when the Fibromyalgia I experienced was at its highest point.

When speaking to Dr.s, Therapists, friends, family, strangers they make it sound so simple, and so easy to climb out of the hole you are in.  Few questions are asked, few people want to understand, but all seem to have an opinion, and we, or sorry, I will say I, since I am speaking of my experience, I felt that no matter if someone did or did not want to ask you were not to tell the whole truth as they did not want to hear it, or I did not feel they would understand or could handle it. 

No matter whether it was when I was in my worst flare up, or even now when the Fibro remains dormant, I do not feel that anyone truly wants to hear what I experienced, what I went through and what I battled.  The lonliness you feel during it for these reasons and others, and even the traces of being utterly alone in the battle when I remember back brings me to want to share more. 

I don't remember the date, I don't remember why it was that day, I do remember looking at that bottle and thinking how many would it take?  I had been in pain for years, hidden tears, shared tears, anger, frustration, feeling weak and defeated, the pain, the hope almost gone that anything would help, grasping for anything.  Doctors saying you will be in a wheelchair before you are 30, you need to accept your new way of life, unable to hug my kids because it hurt too much, shutting myself away from friends and family, I could go on.  The hole I was in, the pain I was in was getting deeper and deeper, I could no longer see the light at the top.

Then it happened the flare up to rival all previous flare ups.  Clothes hurt, laying on the bed brought me to tears, closing my eyes was too painful, opening my eyes was too painful, the migraine that made it feel your eyes were about to burst out of your head, unable to drink or eat, the nausea and wanting to be sick but knowing that it would bring you to what you think at the time is the verge of death, your body is on fire but you are experiencing chills and the sheet, yes a sheet is too heavy for you.  Feeling horrible because you are still able to think and you feel the guilt of your children seeing this, the thinking why me, what did I do in this lifetime or a past life to make this punishment acceptable.  People around offering me food, help, and just asking what they can do, I yell for them to be quiet because their voice made my migraine worse, and then being angry because no one had checked on me.  Curled in a fetile position, rocking myself and wanting to cry but cant because you are so dehydrated from not drinking.  I can go on and on.  Then the kicker, the pain will go away with sleep, but you can't sleep because the pain is too great.  So what is the relief.

I looked up, and saw the cupboard.  The cupboard of all the prescriptions the Dr.s had offered, provided me for possible relief.  The morphine, the codeine, the fentanyl (sorry if spelling is off), the four different types of sleeping pills that have never held up their end of the bargain.  Why not? 

Even now as I am writing this tears come to my eyes, I remember and my body, heart, soul, and mind, sympathizes and understands what I went through, and yet I am thankful for that day. 

Why not?  The pain I was in, even without the flare ups was increasing on a daily basis.  The life I was living was one of surviving and not living, enjoying, learning (so I thought at the time), having or reaching for my dreams.  Why not?  I had the medications, I had enough to put five 500 pound men to sleep.  Take the pills and I would fall to sleep and never feel pain again.  I walked to the cupboard, I know it sounds weird but walking to the cupboard the pain was gone.  I did not have a problem, did not feel any pain walking to the cupboard, opening it and lining up 7 bottles of pain medications, opened the bottles (which normally near impossible for me on a normal day, not a problem at this time).  I poured myself a cup of water, placed it beside the bottles and stood there.  I do not know how long I stared.  I do not know how long I thought about it.  I do remember closing my bottles, I do remember with each bottle that I closed and with each bottle I put back, the pain came back.  The last bottle put away, the full force of Fibro was on me.  I drank the glass of water, got sick to my stomach in the sink, fell to the floor cried, and crawled to my bed, returned to my fetile position and cried.

What stopped me?  I did not know who would find me, and I know for a fact that more than anything I did not want my children to find me or have a mother (even though I felt like a failure as a mother), have a mother who gave up fighting and killed herself. 

I was there, I fully admit it, that if I had not had children (many people have their inspiration), I would have taken those pills and I would have gladly closed my eyes and fallen to sleep. 

I have been to the darkest places (this is only one time I have shared), I have given up hope, I have stopped fighting, and I have given myself to Fibromyalgia.  All those who experience the dark times, do not hide, do not sit quietly, share, fight and above all find your light.
 
 
Many individuals who are living with chronic pain, exhaustion, forgetfulness or another common symptom are often likely to suggest or lean towards Fibromyalgia as their diagnosis.  You are able to visit any message board, or online support groups for Fibromyalgia and you will find someone asking “I have these symptoms, do I have Fibro?”.  Only a Doctor is able to diagnosis Fibromyalgia within an individual.  

There are currently no diagnostic laboratory tests or a generally accepted, objective tests for Fibromyalgia.

How is Fibro diagnosed then?

Upon visiting your Doctor, explaining your symptoms, a series of tests will be, should be run.  Although this is not to confirm the diagnosis of Fibromyalgia within yourself, this is done to exclude other diagnoses, diseases or other health problems that could explain the symptoms you are experiencing.  
A few of the Conditions that can mimic Fibromyalgia are;  

Low thyroid hormone levels (hypothyroidism)

Vitamin D. insufficiency     

Parathyroid Disease (causing elevated bloody calcium level)       

Muscle Disease causing muscle pain (such as Polymyositis)

Bone Diseases causing bone pain (such as Paget Disease)

Elevated Blood Calcium (Hypercalcemia)

Infectious Diseases (Hepatitis, Epstein Barr Virus, Aids)

There is also;  

Lyme Disease     

MS  

Cancer

Should the tests that are run by your Doctor(s) come back  negative, Fibromyalgia may be mentioned to you, and a referral to a  Rheumatologist (a medical Doctor who specializes in Arthritis and related  diseases), or a Pain Specialist.  These two Doctors will have worked with Fibromyalgia and related disease on a more intimate level than a GP (General Practitioner).  
 
You have already been through blood tests, x-rays, and in some cases CT scans and MRIs’, how are the Doctors now going to confirm their hunch that you are living with Fibromyalgia?

The diagnosis for Fibromyalgia is made purely on clinical  grounds, based on a Dr.’s history and physical examination. The Doctor (whether it is your GP or a specialist) will go over your history and may ask you a few questions.  From there the Doctors will use a set of criteria (most common is the American College of Rheumatology’s criteria).   The Doctors will be working with two set criterias to base their diagnosis off of.  Which are;  

        1.       History of widespread  pain (pain is considered to be widespread when it affects all four quadrants of  the body, that is, you must have pain in both right and left sides as well as  above and below the waist to be diagnosed with Fibromyalgia) lasting more than 3  months;  

        2.       The presence of tender  spots.  For a diagnosis a person  must have 11 or more of the 18 tender points.  One of these predesignated sites is  considered a true tender point only if a person feels pain upon the digital  palpation of an approximate of force 4 kilograms to the site.   A tender point has to be painful at palpation not just “tender”.  Pain may be present at other sites as well, but  the 18 standard possible sites on the body are the criteria used for  classification.

The criteria mentioned above was the 1990 Criteria for the  Classification of Fibromyalgia. Recently the criteria was extended.  The American College of Rheumatology had extended the criteria in 2010, after some studies (please feel free to email me and I will send you an article regarding the study).  The Criteria Needed For Fibromyalgia Diagnosis as set out by the American College of Rheumatology in 2010 is;

1.       Pain and symptoms over the past week, based on the total of number of painful areas out of the 18 parts of the body.  Plus level of severity of these symptoms;              
          i.      Fatigue                                                              
          ii.      Waking  Unrefreshed                                                             
          iii.      Cognitive (memory or  thought) problems  Plus number of other general physical symptoms.

2.       Symptoms lasting at least three months at a similar level.

3.       No other health problems that would explain the pain and other symptoms.

Whether the test is not performed correctly, or the individual performing the test is not aware of the guidelines, or another  reason Fibromyalgia is still often misdiagnosed.  Educate yourself, and keep yourself up to date on the latest guidelines for diagnosing Fibromyalgia. 

The following websites were uses in  attaining research for the above blog entry

http://www.medicinet.com/fibromyalgia/page3.htm
 http://arthritis.about.com/od/arthqa/f/fmsdiagnosis.htm
 http://www.arthritis.about.com/od/fibromyalgia/g/tenderpoints.htm
http://www.nfra.net/Diagnost.htm
 
 
A simple question to my family,
What would have been most helpful for you when I was in the worst time with the
Fibro?
My father answered with a response that opened my eyes to what he felt and went through.  I am sharing this with you.  Take from it what you will, but my fathers opening line "You are not always one" is very true and what is often forgotten when you are overwhelmed with pain.

You are not always "one".
 
I think that there are a number of things, some of which you did
quite well.
 
     Knowing precisely what you were
going through and how it impacted you in specific situations was extremely
helpful.  And, I think that for the most part you did that very well. 
Regardless of the research we could have done on this, fybro (like anything else) impacts on each
individual in a different manner.  Thus, although I had an idea of the nature of
the ailment, knowing what it did to you made it easier to relate to and deal
with.
       
Given our relationship and the similarities (at least in this regard) of our
personalities, it would have been terrific if you had asked for assistance.  I
know, believe me I KNOW, how difficult this is.  Such a behaviour flies in the face of our shared
"leave me alone" attitude, particularly when we are not at our best.  At the
same time I now know that I should have asked more questions and have been far
more insistent on getting answers.  I don't think either of us did this very
well; although the bulk of that failure is on me.  You were simply acting in the
manner you were taught and had grown accustomed.
 
     Regardless of the previous paragraph, I think it
would have been very helpful for you (or, more importantly now I suppose, for
those you are advising) to ask for specific things to be done on your behalf. 
This may be easier for you, me and others.  In other words, if the individual
under the grip of fybro were to ask for groceries to be done,
laundry to be taken care of, appointments to be made, etc., it may make the
process of seeking and providing assistance easier.  It is my view that simple
tasks like this can better empower the provider and recipient to tackle the
issues together in small chunks; rather than trying to fix the entire problem. 
I hope this bit makes sense as I believe it to be critical.  And,
notwithstanding that we probably could have done better I think we did a fairly
good job in this regard.  You, of course, did it much better than
I.
  
  When you are advising your clients I think it is important for them to understand that this
is not just their "problem".  You did this quite well also.  However, and this
is not meant as a criticism (for I do not know how I would have done it much
differently), children of your clients should not feel as though they are
caregivers for their parents.  That is too much responsibility.  I think that we
all may have put too much on your son's (name was omitted)  (in particular) shoulders.  Children should be just that.  Once again, though, I  think it is difficult to balance not keeping them in the dark with perhaps telling them too much.
    
    I think that one of the greatest problems is our society-defined roles.  I am
an earner.  You are a caregiver.  Those sorts of traditional roles do not lend
themselves to working together in a manner that best helps anyone in such a
situation.  However, I'm not sure how you would tackle tearing down centuries of
defined acting.  Yeah, I know; not so  helpful.
   
So,  while this may have been a quick question, the answer is somewhat lengthier. 
Well, what isn't when you ask me?  I would like to reserve the right to respond
further as I ponder what I have written and give the question some more thought.
  Hopefully this was of some value to you and your future business (or whatever
the purpose).  Regardless, I know the exercise will assist me and us in
future.
   
Love,
  
  pop

Take from it what you will, but my fathers opening line "You are not always one"
is very true and what is often forgotten when you are overwhelmed with pain.



 
 
When I was first diagnosed with Fibro, and until a year or two ago I did not take into consideration what the people around me were going through and how it affected them.  My spouse at the time had trouble for the first year of pain symptoms (before diagnosis) and thought I was faking it.  After a year, and then after diagnosis, he took it more seriously and it affected him in ways that I still do not know fully.  Although we are not together anymore, partially because of the Fibromyalgia (I believe), he was kind enough to fill out a Questionnaire for me, about what his thoughts were, are.  He has also been so kind to give me permission to share the Questionnaire. 

A sincere thank you to him.

Describe Fibromyalgia in your own words.

 Fibro in my own
  words – is an medical condition wear the patient is in severe pain, very tired
  and getting sleep is very annoying cause of the discomfort they are in. also
  depression and mental awareness and mood swings
happens

   
Do you think Fibromyalgia is an actual condition, or a scapegoat for Doctors?

 I believe it’s an actual condition

    
Would you like an information session with a Doctor explaining in detail, Fibromyalgia? Including the  symptoms, what to expect, treatment options, and how it may affect your  life?  If you would like a session would you like the person diagnosed with Fibromyalgia present for the  session?

 Yes I would so I can better understand the condition and the person
 
 
Do you believe the doctors are helpful with the care of Fibromyalgia?  Please
explain.


 No a lot of doctors do not believe in this and do not
really care – it’s not always constant so they think it’s a make believe
condition 

       
Can the doctors do more?   Please explain.

 It’s tough to say if they can do more – because it’s not consistent , scan does not show until it
  happens to a lot more people I don’t think They will spend the time looking
  into it ‘
 
 
Do you believe the medication helps or hinders Fibromyalgia?  Please
explain.


 The personal experience the way the doctors do it by giving meds drugs etc.,, hinders this
  condition and if anything makes it worse and or even prolongs  The Fibro making the
  patient weaker, vulnerable and feeling useless that they cannot do anything for
  themselves or for anyone.


 Are you interested in alternative treatments?


How does Fibromyalgia affect your life?

 It has affected my life in many ways in which I will not disclose


How does Fibromyalgia affect your  family?


 How does Fibromyalgia affect the person diagnosed with Fibro?  explain both physical and
  emotional.


 It has affected this person in many ways in
which I will not disclose 
 
 
Do you believe you are of help?  Explain how.


At times I felt I was at help and other times no – I feel cause of the uncertainty that they
 would never come through this has changed their thoughts Feelings and
  emotional being. So help they would try to do on their own just to feel that
  they can and do not need any assistance and perform normal Everyday activities
  on their own.

 
What would be of help to the person who is diagnosed with
Fibromyalgia?


 Listening – being  there – help – rest – building confidence assuring them they will overcome this
  and be by their side – help them to do things on  there own to feel better about themselves and life in general. 
 

What would be of help to you and your family?


 
Would a Support Group be of help to you?  

Support group would not help me now cause I’m no longer with that person
 
 
  Please add any further information would like to share.

 The main goal is support and understanding and being there for the person cause they are going to go through a lot and try to feel what they are going through and assure them that they will get through
this cause no one else will listen to them because they think it’s a make up condition -


 Please add any additional questions you believe should be added to the
questionnaire.



I will be posting responses from my other family members in the next week or so.  I hope this helps you to see their side as well.
 
 
 
Picture
Setting goals can be overwhelming, unrealistic, scary, and somtimes we allow the feelings stop us from working towards the goals we dream of.

Setting the goal is the easy part, it is the planning that takes the time, energy, determination, and dedication.

Those diagnosed with Fibromyalgia have difficulty setting, planning and implementing goals.  Why?  We forget that the way we used to do a task, is no longer the way that will work for us. 

With any goal, the first thing to do is to write a plan, set the steps needed to attain the goal.  Details are needed, the steps need steps, and a timeline to complete each task. 

Fibromyalgia allows us to learn, experience, and test new ways, new possibilities, think outside the box of how to do a task that once was very easy for us.

When setting a goal, a person must first come to terms with the simple fact that the steps may be more, and the timeline may be longer.  Frustrating, yes, at first.  The sooner that we are able to accept this fact, the easier it is for one to move on. 

The second key to setting a goal, when diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, is to come to terms with the type of goal you are setting.  A goal for you now, may have been a daily chore you were able to do without thinking before.  For example, you need milk, before you would fit it into your day, pick it up when you could, now you have to plan it out.  What is involved, getting dressed, walking to the car, driving to the store, going into the store, picking it up the milk, waiting in line, getting back into the car, driving home, walking inside, putting the milk in the fridge, and yes the best part laying down on the couch.  No matter the goal, it is an important part of your life, and without the small you cant reach the big.

When setting a goal, don't set too many at once, work with one or two, that way you do not feel overwhelmed and are less likely to give up.  Start with something small, most with Fibromyalgia start with either diet or exercise.  Let me work with exercise, as I find this is the most common goal people are unable to complete.  I picked running, many pick swimming, or yoga. 

1. Pick the form of exercise that will work best for you, that you will enjoy the most, and offer the most benefit with the least hinderance.

2.  Choose a final goal.  Be able to do 4 classes of Yoga a week, Swim 100 laps, or run 5k.  Choose a final outcome.

3.  Choose the date that you would like to complete this goal.  The key to choosing the date, pretend you are a 400lb person, who has been in a car accident, and has never exercised a day in their life.  That way you are more likely to reach a realistic date.

4.  Set the next steps.  This takes some research.  If you are swimming, you need to find the closest pool available to you (if you are not one of the lucky ones with a pool in their backyard).  Choose a swim that offers adult only, women only, and even senior only (tell them your limitation most will allow you to join these groups).  If you are choosing Yoga, find a rehabilitative class, this will allow you to have poses that are modified for people with Chronic Pain or disabilities.  Some areas also offer a senior class, and will also let you join.

5.  Setting the steps.  Start with one class per week, pick a class that fits the schedule of your body.  Pick a time where your body is at its optimal.  Swimming if you are able to complete one lap be happy and just do one lap.  Your body is building its energy back up, do not push it, even if you think you can do more.  Also remember, you have spent energy travelling to the pool and will spend energy travelling back.  The key is pace, frustrating, but pacing is very important.  Yoga classes start with one class a week, and speak to the Yoga Instructor prior.  Explain that you do have Fibromyalgia, and may just go into the childs pose, may get up and leave as you have to, and for many (I was one of them, still am) tell them to ask you for permission before they touch you to correct your positions. 

6. Next step should be to set up rest time.  You have planned to start the exercise, and now you have to plan for your bodies reaction.  Have the time after you finish the exercise planned.  Have a movie waiting for you, have a snack or meal ready that you can just heat up.  This will allow you to relax and conserve energy when you may not have it.

7.  The next steps should be planned tentatively but know that it can be changed depending how your body reacts.  Decide at the beggining how you want to increase your exercise.  After one week increase to 2 laps, on the third week 3 laps.   For Yoga after a month increase to two classes, or a full class.  Should you have to delay one week no big deal, but you are working towards a goal.

Remember on a good day, when you are feeling amazing, and think you are like your old self, and this will happen eventually, do not overdo it.  If you have been doing 3 yoga classes a week, and feel like you can do one more becuase you are having a good day, do not do the extra class, nine out of ten times it will cause a flare up.

Please email me if you would like a free goal setting print out.