Why Pushing Too Hard With Fibromyalgia Means, ‘If You Play, You Will Pay’

“If you play, you will pay.”

That’s what one of my gazillion doctors told me about fibromyalgia. In other words, if you have a semi-good day and over do it, expect to pay for it afterwards. As a creative and artistic person who has been fortunate enough to spend most of my adult life working in the creative arts, normally a project comes with a deadline. More often than not, I can set my own hours or work from home on many aspects of the project, but when the deadline arrives, there is no leeway. The curtain goes up, the doors open, or the lights come on at point zero.

There are times when I work 70 hours a week but then not work again for four or five weeks. And as with the majority of creative people, a deadline is a big stop sign. However, even if others thought the project was finished, I always found something that needed to be fixed. So even if I finished early, I’d continue to “foo foo” – a term I made up meaning it can always be better with just one more thing. Fluffing, folding, spraying, moving or just about anything until the bell rang.

Before I knew about fibro, my husband would see me pushing and crashing at the same time. He would tease me and ask, “Have you scheduled your nervous breakdown yet?” To which I’d reply, “Yep, Tuesday morning, events over Sunday, we strike on Monday so Tuesday it is.” This meant, don’t bother me on Tuesday. What I didn’t realize at the time was what we were calling a “nervous breakdown” was really a flare-up. I always felt I could continue to push myself until I got finished with the project. I’ve been blessed with a very strong fortitude, but with every passing year, it gets harder and harder.

As strange as it sounds, I consider it a blessing that I’ve had this horrible condition most or all of my life. The reason? I’ve never felt any different. My heart aches for people who have spent most of their life healthy and then been hit with this. Until I was diagnosed in 1997, I thought everyone felt the way I did. I had heard all the excuses:

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