Research has shown that up to 30% of Fibromyalgia patients can experience psychological distress, including anxiety and/or depression. I actually think that number is a little low. Based on this research, it is believed that our emotional reactions could be due to the way fibromyalgia affects neurotransmitters and the stress response system. This system is made up of the adrenals, hypothalamus, pituitary and thyroid glands. In people with Fibromyalgia, the system breaks down and is unable to regulate itself. But wait! Everyone has stress right? Yes, but because of Fibromyalgia, our stress response system may be unable to respond like in a healthy person, making us overwhelmed by even minor stressors. This is why my boyfriend says I “overreact”. Yes, I do…but not because I am doing it intentionally or trying to be a bitch. Not only is the disease causing unnecessary stress in our lives but our stress response system is in overload! Again, our own body is working against us.
As depressing as all this may seem, there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Stress is unavoidable in our modern lives. Google or Bing (the search engine I use) stress and it comes back with 99,300,000 results! That’s more than Justin Bieber gets at 78,000,000 results! When you think of all the stress in our lives, those of us with Fibromyalgia, it is literally 10 fold! The light at the end of the tunnel you ask? Oh yes!
The good news is that most of the stress in our lives, we bring on ourselves. How is this good news? Because it’s something we can control. Remember the serenity prayer? No matter your beliefs, it holds meaning. Accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. So, we can’t change having Fibromyalgia but we can change how it affects us, mentally. This seems like a contradiction to the above mentioned research, but it isn’t. Yes, Fibromyalgia doesn’t allow our stress response system to regulate the stress in our lives. That doesn’t mean that we can consciously take over and learn to deal with it ourselves. Is it easy, NO! But like my mama always said, “Life isn’t always easy”. Obviously I still have work to do when it comes to dealing with stress as proved by yesterday’s rant. But even the rant itself is a way to release that stress I tend to bottle up and push down as not to upset the people in my life. I work really hard at hiding my pain or frustration and stress. I defeat myself when doing this, I know this…it always comes back to get me, usually in the form of a flare up and a mental meltdown.
I have been trying to find ways to unwind and relax and I keep coming back to meditation. Again, if you Google this, there is a huge number of hits…about a third of those hits are videos showing you how to meditate. 38,000,000 hits can’t be wrong! If you’re anything like me, relaxing is a foreign concept. John (my boyfriend) actually jokes with me that I don’t know how to relax and he’s right…I can’t relax! But this won’t stop my from trying! I’ll admit, the idea of meditation seemed kooky to me at first and of course, in my mind, if I can’t do it “perfectly” then why do it at all. I know a lot of you out there are just happy to take a shower in peace! But it really isn’t something that takes a lot of time. The consensus on the time you should spend meditating a day is between 20-30 minutes a day, working up to 30 minutes twice a day. I know that seems like a lot of time and finding a time when things are quiet for 10 minutes seems impossible. Stop and think though, is an hour out of your day worth the benefits? Is it worth asking your family for 30 minutes of quiet time? Yes!! It is!
I have included some links for you to start your meditation journey below. Of all the things we try to feel better, I think this is by far the most important thing you can do for yourself…even more important than trying to exercise! 😉
http://dailyheal.com/tag/meditation-for-beginners/ – Daily Heal, Meditation for Beginners
http://altmd.com/Articles/Meditation-for-Chronic-Pain – AltMD, Meditation for Chronic Pain
http://www.health.com/health/condition-article/0,,20189590,00.html – Health.com, How Meditation Releases and Relieves Pain
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_If4a-gHg_I – This link is a video that is somewhat lengthy but definitely worth a watch!
I hope you read the above articles and watch the video as well. Please let me know what you think by leaving a comment! I always read all comments and appreciate the input. If you’d like to e-mail me, my address is firstname.lastname@example.org