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Surviving Fibromyalgia: A Guide By A Metalhead

(Last Updated On: April 1, 2021)

Two weeks ago, I experienced a bad fibro day. No. Not bad.

I experienced fibro pain so overwhelmingly dreadful, I laid on the floor, writhing in a pit of frustration, tears and screams that would put Otep to shame as I listened to her discography in the background of my current despair.

Surviving Fibromyalgia

Surviving fibromyalgia is no cakewalk, and no magic pill cures your ailment (although Lyrica helps). My sleep schedule is atrocious. I do not stay as physically active as preferred. I do keep hope of chipping away at the underlying stressors cultivating this malady through meditation, expressive writing, occasional yoga, and moshing around the house in my underwear to old school Sepultura for small rounds. Here are tips to keep your chronic pain levels down.

Pace Yourself

I’m sorry, but you can’t keep going to shows every other night…which really blows if you are a full time musician. Pacing requires you to relearn your body’s needs, and it needs more rest. I’m not advocating for you to sleep your life away. I’m encouraging you to rest. You should do the work of figuring out if that constitutes a half hour of meditation or a 2 hour nap. Preventing the Push-Crash cycle remains the goal. Mind your energy level.

Keeping A Job

This is a big one. As far beyond burned out I feel with my job, and as much as I realize it as a key stressor, I need it. I am still growing my side hustle, so it is not currently a feasible source of primary income. Luckily, my workplace provides key benefits (all of which should be mandatory minimum goals for the employed in the United States, but I digress) and the very basics required by law under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue syndrome are debilitating illnesses covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). You are entitled to reasonable accommodations provided by your employer. You may even qualify for Social Security Disability.

To Live Is To Diet

Like no magic pill exists to cure your fibro, no magic diet exists to wipe it out either. Personally, I now need to limit my simple carb (GOODBYE BREAD!) and sugar intake. Otherwise, I get massive GERD symptoms which end up exacerbating my fibromyalgia symptoms. I stick with a few types of fruits & veggies I know I will eat before they spoil, avocados, nuts, peanut butter, fish, chicken, and occasional dark chocolate. I also cutoff caffeine by 3PM.

Don’t worry. When live shows come back, I will indulge in burgers and beer a bit more often. God, I miss our Metal Shows…

Caught In A Mosh

Metalheads love to move. We mosh, headbang, rage, chug, shred, djent…we move.

When you experience fatigue and pain on a regular basis, the concept of exercise looks out of reach. However, you don’t need to spend an hour on an elliptical. You just need to keep moving. I still feel hesitant to start back up on my high intensity interval training, so I opt for occasional yoga, stretching, and with the warm weather, walks around the park. Listen to your body, and please consider consulting your physician.

Until It Sleeps

My crux. I still suffer from insomnia even going four years into this condition. With fibromyalgia often comes unrefreshing sleep and insomnia. What blows even more is rest helps relieve chronic pain. I find a regular bedtime, a wind-down routine, and again, listening to your body, help to prevent bad fibro mornings. You may also consider doing a sleep study to learn more about your sleep quality. Consider consulting your physician regarding sleep medication.

Are You Mental?

H’WAY! Yes, mental health and chronic illness are inextricably linked. That whole mind-body connection.

Stress WILL exacerbate your symptoms. I am living proof. I am convinced compounding stress triggered my now chronic condition. To be stressed on some level is the human condition, but learning to cope will decrease the effects on your body. I practice breathing exercises. Sometimes, I need to cut draining relationships out of my life for my own well-being. Some stressors can be tackled by planning, such as financial issues. Cognitive behavioral therapy may be helpful or even required to learn what skillsets you need.

Acceptance of your current reality works wonders. Telling your mind “it’s okay” recognizes the existence of your now and calms your nervous system as opposed to a fight/flight response. This takes practice, but I find it to be an immensely helpful tool.

Little things matter. Sometimes, you need a tweak in your life to alleviate chronic illness symptoms. For example, my mood perks up when through some makeup on my face…you know…since I enjoy playing around with it. Little slices of life invoke happiness and can contribute to overall improved health.

Support

I spend most of my time alone…outside of my three rambunctious cats. I generally enjoy my solitude, but when flare-ups arise, even a seasoned badass like me can feel lonely. Quarantine for a year can only exacerbate feeling distanced or misunderstood. Not everyone lives a life of chronic pain either. Even supportive friends and family are limited in their capacity to relate.

If you need extra support, please seek out support groups in your community.

**I am not a licensed physician or a licensed counselor. Please consult your medical professionals before making any changes to your healthcare routine.**

Source: 10 Lifestyle Changes for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. VeryWell Health.

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