Accepting the Blessings of Fibromyalgia

Joy Schraft* is in her fifties and has been suffering from fibromyalgia for 34 years. "I saw a rheumatologist for the first time about 10 years ago, and he said there was no question that I had fibromyalgia. He checked all the pressure points, and etc. By then, I was taking very good care of myself, so I was in better shape than ever. He didn't think pain medications would help, and I had things under control.

I Feel Like I'm Pulling a Load of Bricks.

I tried a chiropractor and she thought she could rid me of the fibromyalgia, but that didn't happen; it never came to the point where it was gone. I gave up on it as a permanent treatment but when I feel it coming on I still go to the chiropractor for help. There are periods like at the end of the day, when I'm tired, when it's hard to go up the steps. I feel like I'm pulling a load of bricks. On the one hand I'm in good shape but on the other hand I can't move myself. I have to be really careful about what chair I sit in, because different chairs will press on the wrong parts of my body."

Cognitive behavioral therapist Sara Halevi, MA, MFCC, finds that much of the work with fibromyalgia patients revolves around getting them to accept their limitations and relapses without feeling hopeless. "In terms of working on the acceptance of relapses, this must be done without allowing for thoughts like: 'I'll never get better, my life will always be like this.' The idea is to believe that this latest relapse is just a bump in the road rather than a dead end."

I'm in a Better Place.

Joy says, "I see fibromyalgia as a blessing because it forced me to eat right and exercise, so now I have better skin, and I'm in a better place. I can see where it would be terrible for somebody else but this is not necessarily so bad for me. Diet has a powerful impact on things like depression. It's very powerful. I wouldn't be surprised if diet keeps people from getting depressed. Being a mother puts you in another place. If you have a newborn of 2 weeks you're not going to stay in bed. When you're depressed, you're not in control, but if you're in pain, you're still going to nurse that baby. You're in pain, you can't turn your head, but you're going to do it. You push."

*Not her real name.

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