When I first got diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I found it comforting to hear stories from friends, family, hell, even strangers on the street – basically anyone who could say to me, “I know somebody who has that, and now they’re taking this medication, doing this-or-that three times a week, and they’re almost back to normal!” It was a relief, it was a lifeline, a light at the end of the tunnel.
Now I know it was just another way of life throwing you a bit of competition. Because fibromyalgia does not play fairly, nor does it play equally. My symptoms and those of Edna’s at number 7 down the road may be completely different. The treatment that your friend’s ex Steve tried may have worked fantastically for him… but could be utterly useless on you.
There is no right or wrong way to treat fibromyalgia. There is just trying. All we can do is try whatever comes our way and hope we may feel some relief. There are so many options, all of which vary depending on where you live in the world. Most people with fibro will have gone through most of the list in the hopes of finding something that gives them a bit of relief, so it can be so frustrating when you see someone else thriving after using one of the treatments, when you’re stuck as if you’ve done nothing or taken nothing.
I found that when I stopped comparing my progress with that of everyone around me, things felt easier. Sure, the symptoms didn’t improve, and the meds didn’t suddenly magically start working. But I wasn’t trying to force myself to be better. I wasn’t expecting to see results of a certain level. I wasn’t pushing myself to the point of collapse because I thought I should be trying harder and doing better. I wasn’t trying to keep up with everyone around me – those with or without fibro – and this meant my body was able to tolerate the strains of the day just that little bit more.
So, by focusing on only my own progress, I stopped pushing myself too hard, I stopped overdoing it. Because there was nobody there for me to compete with. Just me. I stopped expecting things of myself just because others were able to do them. Social and familial obligations melted away because I learned that putting my body and my needs first was the most important part.
I have days when I can do everything and days when I can do nothing at all. I still have days where I find myself crumbling and thinking “if they can do that, why can’t I?” Because fibromyalgia is cruel, wrapped up in its invisibility, allowing you to forget just how powerful it can be.
We are all different. We’re all built differently and experience illness differently. Our symptoms don’t match up to each other, one person’s strengths may be another person’s weaknesses. We can spend our lives trying to live in someone else’s shadow… or we can work on making our own light shine as brightly as possible. Just find what it is that makes yours shine.