Living With Fibromyalgia: An Exercise in Hope
Fibromyalgia is a disease that often leaves you feeling ravaged. At the end of the day (let’s face it, at the beginning, the middle, all day) you feel tired, your body aches, your head hurts. Sometimes bathing is a supreme act of effort and a triumph over exhaustion. But a triumph, nonetheless.
The fact is that Fibromyalgia is a disease without a cure. Most people who have it will have it as a lifelong companion. For most of us the doctor’s promise that, “It’s not going to kill you.” is not the message of hope it’s meant to be. Living with FMS is hard, very hard. But there are so many days, so many little joys and little triumphs that make life worth it.
For those days when life feels especially difficult, when everything is just too damn hard, when you begin to think that maybe it’s just not worth it this Exercise in Hope may be enough to carry you forward until one of those days you’re so thankful for comes around again.
To start with, you may want to actually do the Exercise on a day when you’re feeling pretty good. You’ll need to be able to hold a pen or pencil or sit at your computer for a little while. This one may be difficult to complete during a particularly rough day. You want to have this as a reminder on your rough days about all the beautiful things that life still has to offer.
On a piece of paper or on your computer form two columns. The Bad first, then The Good. In The Bad column write down a few of things that FMS has taken away from you, a few of the ways that it has changed your life completely, the things you miss most.
Then, before you start work on The Good column take a moment to think about all the gifts you still have in your life. Start with little things, eventually the big things will come too. Opposite The Bad column write a good thing you still have, something that still makes your life beautiful.
Here is my own list for a little inspiration -
Before I got sick I was a prevailing optimist. I used to drive my friends and family crazy. I was always starting sentences with, “It could be worse, you could have…” Often enough I used the phrase, “At least you still have your health.”
But now I don’t have my health. For a person with FMS complete optimism is a joke. It’s simply impossible to remain positive all the time. Impossible and unnecessary. Our lives are very hard. We look healthy, we feel like sh*t. Some of us can’t work. Some of us have had to give up the things we loved most. Most of us have faced the natural enough depression that follows that all-consuming diagnosis. And to top it all off, there are still people in the world who think we’re faking. Who don’t believe what we have is a disease at all.
But those people have nothing to do with who you are and the battle you’re fighting. Not a battle against FMS, because odds are it’s never going away, but the battle against the darkness that stands in the wings. Always reminding us of the things we’ve lost.
For those times when that whispering voice gets a little too insistent, a little too close for comfort pull up the lists you’ve made. Remember that life is grand, simply because we get to live it.