Finding Joy with Fibromyalgia

Four simple steps to finding joy

Living with chronic condition like Fibromyalgia can be anything but joyful most days of the week. You are in pain, tired, and can be experiencing a myriad of other symptoms at any one time. And you often feel alone.

Then there’s the fact that you usually have to explain to people just what the heck Fibromyalgia Syndrome is and the fact that there is no good understanding of what causes it, thus there’s no cure as of yet. This alone can spin you into a life of social separation and loneliness.


It is widely believed that artist Frida Kahlo also would have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, if there had been that diagnosis during her time. Her art depicts chronic pain and her diaries reflect a life filled with physical and emotional pain. Yet, she continued to do what she loved, which was to paint, and toward the end of her life she turned her attention to capturing everyday existence.

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me, too. Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it’s true I’m here, and I’m just as strange as you.”
Frida Kahlo

The Two Fridas, by Frida Kahlo. Image captured at the Dallas Museum of Art, March 17, 2017.
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The Other “F” Word

I would prefer my “F” words include Fabulous, Fearless, and Fun.

I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2000 and have said/thought many a curse word since that time. Fibromyalgia. Fibro. Fibro-flare. Flare. FMS. Fatigue. Fog. Frustration. Failure.  All of these have become the other “F” words  to me. I try to live by the power of positive thinking (hence, the name of my blog), but until you live a day in my shoes it may be hard to understand why even sometimes it is easier to smile and put on a happy face rather than truly answer the question of “How are you?” Because trust me, you don’t want to hear about how I am tired, hurt all over, didn’t sleep last night, and oftentimes feel like a failure because I can’t do the things I want to do.

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What Is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a complex, chronic pain disorder that causes widespread pain and tenderness.

I often refer to the fact that I have fibromyalgia in my posts, but many of you might have found your way here through some of my other musings, so I thought I should introduce some of you to this condition.

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6 Ways to Cope with Stress when you Have a Chronic Illness

Chronic stress can cause extreme duress on the fibro body and your adrenal system.

Managing my fibromyalgia is a careful balancing act of self-care. This involves eating healthy, getting adequate sleep, working out, and taking time for me. Living with fibromyalgia means that normal, every day stressors can place an additional hardship on the fibro body. So when you are faced with an extended period of stress – bad flare or other health crisis, work deadlines, family emergencies, or simply just getting through the holidays – you can place an extreme amount of duress on your body and your adrenal system.

“Adrenaline is a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, especially in conditions of stress, increasing rates of blood circulation, breathing, and carbohydrate metabolism and preparing muscles for exertion.”

You can feel this when your heart starts to race or your hands or body sweats. Adrenaline is also responsible for that fight-or-flight mechanism that can give people extraordinary strength in times of crisis. And an over-exposure to the stress hormones can tamper with your overall well-being.

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The Many Forms of Pain

Pain takes all forms, affects all people, and does not discriminate.

I started writing this post long before Lena Dunham announced she wanted to be the “face of fibromyalgia.” Knowing little about her other than what I read in this article, I don’t really have a connection to her and don’t view her as my advocate. There are many other faces of fibromyalgia and forms of pain that deserve attention as well.

Pain takes all forms, affects all people, and does not discriminate between male or female, young or old, rich or poor, famous or not-so-famous. It can affect anyone. And everyone.

These days I feel people associate pain or chronic pain with the “opioid epidemic” we hear so much about in our daily news. It has reached such a pinnacle that Michael Bloomberg announced a $50 million donation to help fight it. But let’s not stereotype all of those suffering in pain with a drug problem that is gripping the nation. Continue reading “The Many Forms of Pain”