Fibromyalgia Care Pack – Buy Now!

Advertisements

Do you have fibromyalgia (FMS) and struggle to explain it to people? Are you tired of explaining yourself over and over? Or do you need some encouragement to keep going when your chronic pain is flaring up?

The Fibromyalgia Care Pack contains poster pages that you can print out and hang on your wall when you need a reminder. Pages include lesser-known symptoms; important statistics related to FMS; myths about fibromyalgia and the truths behind them; some self-care tips for those rough days, and some affirmations when you need to remind yourself that what’s happening to you is not your fault.

These are handy to give to people who are curious about the condition, or don’t believe it exists. It can give them a better understanding of what you’re going through so you don’t need to exhaust yourself by explaining every time.

They’re also useful to have nearby when you’re feeling low. The self-care tips and affirmations are a reminder to be kind to your mind and body.

I’ve had fibromyalgia since I was 17. It’s made me feel isolated and frustrated. If I had had someone else with FMS to give me advice and reassure me that I wasn’t alone, I would have been much happier.

This is a digital product, so you will not receive anything physical. Just print them out to make a little booklet; hang them on your wall, or keep them on your device to look at when you need it.

I hope this care pack helps you or your loved ones with fibromyalgia. It’s a lonely thing to deal with, but we have to remember that we are not alone <3

What is an “Introvert Hangover”?

Advertisements

If you’re anything like me, you might be familiar with this – you go out with friends, and before the end of the night, you’re wiped out. You’re exhausted, your head is killing you, you can’t eat, and you feel like you’re hungover despite not drinking. You could be having the time of your life with people you love, but if you’re an introvert, your social battery will run out eventually. This sensation is known as an “introvert hangover”.

It’s worse when you have chronic pain. I’ve always had a problem staying energetic in social situations longer than a few hours. But after my fibromyalgia diagnosis, it became harder to function. I often get exhausted because I need to put effort into smiling and making eye contact. That drains a lot of energy. I thought it was because I wasn’t enjoying the event, or wasn’t in the right mood, but it happened no matter the circumstances. 

My Experience with Introvert Hangovers

Speaking for myself here, the self-inflicted pressure to “mask” and appear engaged puts a lot of stress on my body. My facial muscles are strained, jaws clenched, mind constantly “on” so I don’t rudely miss out on a conversation. The worst part about an introvert hangover is that it happens when I’m with the people I love the most. 

I’ve spoken about D&D before and how much it’s helped me. It’s also been incredible for my social life. My D&D group are my closest friends. I can truly be myself around them. With all of the stressors of adulthood, we spend as much time together as we can before life gets in the way. So I’ll set aside most of a weekend to be with the people I love. We’ll play D&D for a while, then just talk for a while because we don’t want the day to end. But without fail, I get a bad introvert hangover well before the day is out. 

It starts with a faint headache. This isn’t unusual for me; I get headaches all the time. But it worsens as time goes on, until I can’t move my head without splitting pain. I feel nauseous and bloated, and I know eating would probably help but I can’t bring myself to do it. 

How to Treat an Introvert Hangover?

I’ve tried everything I can think of. I thought it was basic self-care, like eating enough in the morning, drinking enough water, etc. But none of that helps. I take painkillers when I can, but by then it’s usually too late. If a tension headache is my main problem, sometimes laying a wheat pack over my face and eyes helps. But the only thing that really seems to work is a good night’s rest (and not just a nap, either – that tends to make things worse). 

If you can control the amount of time you spend socialising, that’s the best way to keep an introvert hangover at bay. But it can be disheartening not being able to spend as much time with people as you’d like. 

How Does an Introvert Hangover Effect Your Life? 

To people who haven’t experienced them, they might seem like a minor inconvenience. But it’s had a very negative impact on my social and mental health. My friends and partner do everything they can to accommodate this, but I feel so bad that I can’t engage for as long as they can. I feel like I’m bringing the mood down, or wasting the time we do have together. My friends love board games and strategy, and so am I, but I just can’t process anything that’s going on when we’re playing. I desperately want to be present but I feel like I’m fading into the distance. I want to be there for my friends and I don’t want to end things early just because of me. 

As someone with chronic pain, I have a very complicated relationship with my body. I want to love the body that I’m in, but it constantly feels like my body hates me; I don’t want to always be on the outside, and I don’t want to be punished for enjoying myself. 

So What Now? 

I’m sorry if you came here for advice – I don’t really have any. The most important thing as a chronic pain sufferer is to take care of your body’s needs, and I have not been good at doing that. I am lucky to have an excellent support system, but I still have to make the choice between caring for myself and having fun. 

The best advice that I can offer is know your limits. Even if you break them every now and then (which I completely understand), if you’re aware of them then you can prepare for the worst. Chronic pain can feel hopeless and miserable, but you’re not alone. There’s someone out there who knows what you’re going through.

Things Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Sufferers Can Relate To

Advertisements

Chronic pain is a lifestyle, not just a list of symptoms. It’s hard to see the bright side of pain conditions like fibromyalgia and arthritis, but it’s also not healthy to get bogged down in the negatives. There’s more to chronic pain than just pain, and it can help to look at it in a humorous way. When you’re dealing with a chronic condition, you need to be able to laugh at it sometimes or you’ll never get anything done. Here are a few things that bring me amusement, whether other people find them funny or not.

Blood Tests Are No Worry

Since I started my fibromyalgia diagnosis journey in 2015, I’ve had more blood tests than I can count. I used to be terrible with needles, but they’re not a problem anymore! I know the process by now. Pathologists are often surprised by how quickly I get in the chair and roll up my sleeve. There’s a strange point of pride in getting blood drawn without flinching – it’s a kind of pain that I can tolerate. 

Creaky Joints

Anyone who thinks arthritis is just something you get when you’re old is wrong. I’ve had it since I was seventeen, and it makes me sound like popping candy whenever I stretch. My ankles, wrists and neck are particularly bad. I’ve gotten into the habit of rolling those joints just to feel them crackle. Every person I’ve met with chronic pain is used to standing up with a big sigh because their knees or back wanted to complain; it’s not fun, but it is sometimes funny.

OTC Pain Medicine Isn’t Helpful

I can’t count the number of times someone has good-naturedly offered me some panadol for my pain, and I politely turn them down. While I appreciate the gesture, basic paracetamol doesn’t have much of an effect on me anymore. Unless I take it before the fibromyalgia symptoms kick in, it’s usually too late. I take a lot of panadol anyway because at least I’m doing something to combat the pain even if it’s a placebo. 

Always A New Symptom

Chronic pain and mental health have a heavy overlap. Personally, my chronic pain stems from stress and anxiety, which present in many physical symptoms. I think I know all there is to know about my conditions, but every few months I’ll notice something off and wonder if I need to see a doctor. I do a quick search online (taken with a grain of salt, of course), and see that the strange new sensation I’m experiencing could be linked to fibromyalgia. Do I see my doctor anyway and potentially waste my time and theirs? Or do I just let it be, if it seems relatively benign? In some ironic way, I can always look forward to discovering something new about my illness.

So Many Layers

Like many chronically ill people, I have trouble regulating my temperature. I have bad circulation in my hands and feet, so I tend to run cold. I love heavy jackets and woollen jumpers and I find it hard to change out of my pyjamas during winter. On the flip side, my fibromyalgia medication makes me sensitive to heat and easily dehydrated. Being in a heated room on a freezing cold day, or a cooled room during a burning summer, makes me very uncomfortable. I’ll be taking layers on and off as my internal temperature changes, and it won’t settle. It makes planning my outfits very difficult because the actual temperature tells me nothing about how I’ll feel.

Tossing And Turning

So many chronic pain symptoms lead to terrible sleep. Now, I think I have a pretty consistent sleep schedule in terms of when I go to bed and wake up, but the quality of my sleep is … not great. I need a lot of comfort items to easily fall asleep: I have a pillow under my knees to help my hips, a weighted blanket, and a wheat pack for cold nights. I can’t find a pillow that doesn’t give me neck pain, and my aches make it hard to get comfortable. It turns out that being in pain all of the time makes it hard to sleep. Who would have thought? 

Community

Like I said before, it’s hard to see anything positive about chronic pain. But if there’s one upside that I’ve found, it’s other people who share my experiences. When I was diagnosed I felt so alone. None of my friends understood what I was going through. I was constantly gaslighting myself into believing I was making it up. But when I left high school and my world grew wider, I’ve met so many wonderful people who also have chronic pain. It makes a world of difference to share advice and complaints with similar people; just being able to share your stories with people who truly get it is a wonderful thing. And since I’ve started this blog, I’ve spoken to so many people with the same stories. 

Chronic pain is never easy, but having a community makes it go down sweeter.

How to Survive Winter With Chronic Pain

Advertisements

I would love winter if I didn’t have chronic pain. It’s so lovely to cuddle up under a massive blanket with a mug of hot chocolate. Being warm and cozy is one of my favourite things, and it just doesn’t feel the same any other time of year. 

Unfortunately, winter is the time when my chronic pain decides to rear its ugly head. The cold has a huge effect on my fibromyalgia, making my joints fire up with aches. My relaxing nights snuggled up by the fireplace are somewhat less comfortable due to the pain in my body. 

I realise I might be isolating some of my Northern Hemisphere viewers, but during my summer I never want to think about those miserable winter mornings. 

But this is a problem that occurs every year, so hopefully this will reach someone when they need it. As I’m writing this, I’m pretty deep in a fibromyalgia flare-up, and all of these things are on my mind.

1. Heat Pads

These have been my lifeline through many awful winters. I usually sleep with a wheat pack, but if my pain is bad I’ll heat it up through the day to keep me extra warm. My friend recently made me some adorable hand-warms which are just the perfect size to rest on my hands while I’m typing. Comfortable and functional!

Jokes aside, applying heat to painful spots is the most effective method of pain management for me, personally. Ice packs are also recommended for chronic pain, but in the middle of winter that might not be preferable. 

2. Compression Gloves 

This should be in the toolbox of every person with chronic pain! I’m actually due for a new pair because I wore mine out last year. Compression gloves help regulate the circulation in your hands and reduce inflammation, which makes them perfect for arthritis. They come in all kinds of materials, and you can get them for a bunch of different prices depending on your budget. 

3. Hot Drinks

As soon as I start feeling those winter aches, I go to put on the kettle. There’s nothing better than a hot drink to warm you up from head to toe. My preference is a good cup of English breakfast tea with milk, but there are all kinds of herbals teas that can help with chronic pain and ailments of all sorts. And a decadent hot chocolate is just good for the soul. 

4. Comfort Items 

These aren’t mobility aids or any kind of medicine, but they’re just nice to have. My weighted blanket works similarly to compression gloves; it helps my circulation and is great pressure therapy. Mine has a bamboo cover that stays cool during summer, but it still plenty warm in the winter with my electric blanket. 

As I’m always complaining about my cold feet, my friend bought me some heated socks. These are usually worn by hikers to get them through rough conditions, but I happily use them to warm me up in winter mornings. I always feel that if my feet are cold, it’s nearly impossible for the rest of me to warm up. 

I also like to sit with a pillow on my chair, or one on my lap if I’m using my laptop without a desk. This is because I have terrible posture, and having that extra support can make a world of different regarding my back pain.

5. Comfort Food 

This one falls more under “guilty pleasures” than actual helpful advice, but it gets me through. When you’re having a bad flare-up and can’t do much more than lie in bed and wait for the pain to cease, sometimes you need to indulge into something incredibly rich and chocolatey. You’re allowed to treat yourself on occasion, especially when you’re suffering. When your entire body is fighting against you, it’s not a bad thing to give yourself something nice to ease the pain just a little bit. 

Obviously there are a multitude of ways to help with chronic pain during winter, but these are what works for me. I’m sure everyone with a chronic illness has gone through times when they’ve tried to ignore their pain. Pushing through feels like the pain feels like the brave thing to do, but it’s much braver to take care of yourself and acknowledge what you’re going through. The faster you work on healing, the quicker you can return to your normal pace. Winter is hard, but spring is always around the corner!

I’m Chronically Ill, Not an Inspiration

Advertisements

When you’re part of a minority, people expect you to speak on behalf of everyone in that minority. If you speak publicly about your experiences, they expect you to be a good activist, someone to point to and say: “See? If they can do it, so can you!” 

But that’s not fair. My experiences with chronic pain are different to someone’s experiences as a wheelchair user; just as my bisexual identity doesn’t mean I know what it’s like to be a cis gay man. Even other people with the same combination of conditions as me have vastly different symptoms, capacities, and coping mechanisms. I don’t need mobility aids and I rarely take bed rest, but I know people who do. 

I follow a lot of wonderful chronic illness blogs, like Kate the Almost Great and All That Jazmin. These bloggers are inspirational, and provide tips and routines to manage your pain better. They’re uplifting and helpful, but this blog will never be that. I see people discuss how they stuck to a rigid workout schedule and healthy diet and nearly eliminated their pain altogether. I know I’ll never be able to achieve that. These are real people with real stories, not scammers tricking you into buying their protein shakes. Nonetheless, these bloggers are incredibly resilient and dedicated to their recovery.

I’m not like that. I exercise when it suits me, but I give up too easily. I’m terrible at managing my pain; I lose track of time when knitting until I overexert myself. My diet is pretty terrible, even though I know that eating better would help me in so many ways. It’s never been a goal of mine to be medication-free. I just don’t have the energy to commit to the healthiest lifestyle for me, and that’s ok. 

I’m not saying that I’ve given up. It’s important to be healthy no matter what you’re situation. And I’m not trying to put down these other bloggers who should be proud of everything they’ve accomplished. I’m just trying to come to terms with my disability, knowing that expressing the pain I’m in doesn’t make me weak, or that I should count myself lucky that I don’t have it worse. My worth is not determined by how well I can grin and bear it. 

When I write about chronic pain, it’s to reach out to people with similar problems and help them feel seen. I’m not offering cures or solutions. I don’t want to be a role model, I just want people who can’t hide their disabilities to know that they’re not alone. 

Invisible illnesses are tough. Because of how society treats disabilities, it’s common for people to think people with chronic pain are “faking it” or overreacting. There’s so much pressure to “get better” and try to fit in with everyone else, but the people asserting that don’t understand the pain our bodies put us through every day. We are disabled, despite what imposter syndrome might tell us, and there should be no shame in asking for the care we deserve. 

Because our symptoms aren’t visible, we have to be our own advocates. We deal with people doubting our lived experiences, telling us to “just try yoga”, or just not caring. Sorry to anyone looking for an inspirational story, but I’m really just trying to get by in a world that continually tells me my problems don’t exist. I’m not “brave” for simply existing; I’m brave because I refuse to be silent about what I’m going through.

Exit mobile version