01 August 2016

What does chronic illness look like?

Since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I've had to make some adjustments in my life. Some of these adjustments have been good, like getting medication so I'm not in pain all the time. Other adjustments have been more of a challenge.

The biggest challenge I've faced so far is adjusting how I see myself now that I'm labelled as someone with a chronic illness.

Fibromyalgia is a lifelong diagnosis. I will always have it, I will always combat pain and its other symptoms. And it may get worse as I get older.

Because of this illness, there are things I have to do differently in my life. For now (maybe not forever), I'm giving up the idea of being able to run a marathon. Or run at all, for that matter. My exercise has to be more gentle to my body.

I'm also adjusting my daily schedule to accommodate my fatigue. I'm becoming a polyphasic sleeper (not to take advantage of the benefits, but simply because that seems to be what's easiest for my body and work/family schedule).

Right now, I'm trying to find a balance between the diagnosis and the identity. Yes, I have fibromyalgia, but I am not fibromyalgia.

One of the ways I'm doing this is by reading Toni Bernhard's How to Be Sick. So far I like her approach to chronic illness.

There is illness here, but I am not ill.

This approach is allowing me to make accommodations for the illness without letting myself get pulled into a black hole of "I can't because fibromyalgia."

I am tired and I hurt. But I still work and I still care for my family and I still do the things I need to do in order to be the woman I want to be.

It's still a process. There are days I let the fibromyalgia keep me from doing what I need to do.

There are days it has to.

When those days happen, I do what I can and try again tomorrow.

I have fibromyalgia, but I am not fibromyalgia.

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