Chronic pain is not only physically taxing, but it takes a toll on us emotionally as well. It’s a kind of Catch 22: the more physical pain we have, the more emotionally distressed we can become. The more emotionally distressed we become, the more our physical pain increases. Such is our journey with fibromyalgia. There’s also a spiritual, personality, and physical component.
As such, I would like to share and discuss several components of FM that can have an impact on health and well-being.
Emotional: Negative emotions are so draining, and can actually contribute to an increase in our physical pain. We can go through a range of emotions with FM, such as anger, grief, fear, sadness, and depression. These are all normal emotions to have. We need to acknowledge them and work through them.
Psychological: Day in and day out life with FM can negatively affect our mental health and sense of well-being. Perhaps you feel anxious and experience panic attacks. Perhaps you experience depression and feel hopeless. If this is you, I would encourage you to seek counseling. Good counseling has been a huge help to me.
Spiritual: According to an article in FMCPA, titled “Spirituality in Healing,” many of our spiritual beliefs shape the way we view our pain. Those of us with FM often find prayer helpful, and use it more than the general population to cope with our illness. Spiritual coping does indeed have a positive impact on our pain and treatment in general.
Personality: I don’t believe anyone can go through the daily grind of a chronic illness like FM without changes to their personality in some way. There’s a saying about hard times making you bitter or making you better. Believe me, I totally understand feeling bitter, but you isolate yourself even more as people pull away. I choose to allow it to make me better. Chronic pain can rob us of our ambitions, dreams, and the ability to be adventurous, which can be very taxing.
Physically: FM can cause pain in so many areas — the neck, shoulders, hips, back, hands, feet, head, etc. — it makes it difficult to just rest and relax. We always feel the need to be vigilant, which is so wearying. I believe it’s important to keep our pain as under control as we can. According to a study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University, chronic pain harms the brain. “Researchers found that in a healthy brain all the regions exist in a state of equilibrium,” a Northwestern press release on the 2008 study stated. “When one region is active, the others quiet down. But in people with chronic pain, a front region of the cortex mostly associated with emotion ‘never shuts up,’” the release continued, quoting Dante Chialvo, the study’s lead author and an associate research professor of physiology at the Feinberg School. Chiavlo added, “The areas that are affected fail to deactivate when they should.”
Chronic FM pain also affects sleep, the ability to get around and be active, weight gain or loss, and muscle atrophy to name just a few.
The chronic pain of FM is a challenge, and I’m aware that that’s an understatement. We need to take care of and address all the ways that our chronic pain impacts us.
I would love to hear your thoughts.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.