Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Eight Managing Normal Human Needs to Help Fibromyalgia

Normal Human Needs to Help Manage Fibromyalgia -Fibromyalgia Framework Series Finale

I can’t believe it is the last part of the Fibromyalgia Framework Series!

We have talked:

I hope that you have learnt heaps and have lots of things to try.

Today we are going to delve into normal human needs and a little deeper into how yoga helps me.

Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Eight Managing Normal Human Needs to Help Fibromyalgia

NORMAL HUMAN NEEDS

I have held this belief for a long time, that we are human beings first and foremost, so there are some crucial keys to wellbeing that ought to be followed, whether we have a chronic illness or not. We cannot heal an illness such as fibromyalgia without having an overall healthy lifestyle. We cannot throw pills at this problem while not looking after our body. Our body is an interconnected being – what effects one area will effect another.

It is far beyond the scope of anything I can go over here, but I will I briefly outline some general lifestyle tips that will help us to live well, especially once we have begun to address the other parts of this series.

Address other health issues

For me this includes managing myofascial pain syndrome as it definitely contributes to the fibromyalgia and vice versa. For some this will be thyroid issues, other nutritional deficiencies, other conditions such as migraines etc.

Gentle exercise

Gentle exercise is very useful in helping our body to move and loosen up. Every human being is recommended to exercise for wellbeing. I will go into this in more detail below.

Healthy eating

Avoiding any foods we are allergic or intolerant to and making good choices to fuel our body.

Getting enough sleep

Although this is more difficult for us than most, it is a vital human need.

Address trauma

Some of us might need to address any emotional issues that may have contributed to our situation including childhood trauma or very stressful events that have occurred. You could tackle this alone through expressive writing or mindfulness. You may benefit from finding a counsellor.

Managing stress

This is going to be an ongoing and vital part of helping us to manage our condition. We are even more susceptible to stress due to our overactive nervous system.

Human relationships

Human beings are social creatures, even introverted people need some level of social proximity. I was able to make up for the lack of people in real life who understood the fibromyalgia with virtual connections in a couple of great Facebook groups. If you have people who don’t understand in real life, try to find some online. But try to keep it positive, venting can be useful, but so can solutions-focused discussions.

Hobbies

Just because we are limited in our energy envelopes, doesn’t mean we don’t deserve passion. Find what makes you happy and pursue it. Even if you have to adapt it for now, or ongoing.

If you would like help working through all of these areas and getting some action plans in place – check out my Kickstart Your Fight Against Fibromyalgia programme options!

Below we will chat about yoga and gentle exercise.

YOGA (OR GENTLE EXERCISE)

Yoga is one of many gentle exercise options for people with chronic pain and fatigue. One of the golden rules for fighting Fibromyalgia is to keep moving. Walking is my go-to form of movement, a gentle walk in the sunshine has multiple benefits for mind and body.  There are a ton of ways to move besides yoga and walking: a simple stretch, tai chi, Pilates, swimming, aqua jogging, weight lifting… the list is long.

We shouldn’t be doing so much that our pain and fatigue levels skyrocket, the aim is for better quality of life, not worse. If walking is currently out of reach, then stretch or wander around in a warm pool or try yoga.

Type “Yoga for Fibromyalgia” into Google and you will find a wealth of information trails to follow. Countless blogs and articles cover the benefits of yoga, meditation, and mindfulness for people with Fibromyalgia.

Find an entire post here  about yoga benefits, how I utilise it and some links to get you started if you’re curious.

Yoga for fibromyalgia my experience research with podcast video

Non-Yoga Workout
Here is the YouTube channel of a person who makes fitness videos especially for people with chronic pain and fatigue.

ACTIONS: Come and chat about any or all of these things at Melissa (you) vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group.

I would LOVE your feedback, so please take a couple of minutes to fill in the survey here. Your feedback keeps me on the right track when I create resources.


So that completes our series!

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If you have loved this series and would like all of the content and templates in one place, with space to write notes as you go…find it physically here (affiliate) and digitally here.

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Baby wearing: benefits, types and my favourites

Baby Wearing with Fibromyalgia

Baby wearing has many benefits for baby in addition to keeping mum’s hands free. My second son basically lived in our frontpack due to his reflux. It kept him happier and helped me spread the distribution of his weight. With my third son, I have delved even deeper into baby wearing. I have tried several now and can recommend a few.

Baby wearing: benefits, types and my favourites

Benefits of baby wearing:

  • Helps baby feel secure (my son didn’t even startle when I used the blender when he was sleeping in the wrap)
  • Helps promote breastfeeding
  • Helps baby get more rest
  • Babies who are carried cry less
  • Aids in bonding between mama and baby
  • Helps with colic and reflux

What to look for:

  • Holds baby close to your body for optimum comfort
  • Keeps baby high to your chest, you should be able to kiss baby’s head
  • Keep baby’s face clear
  • Protect baby’s hips
  • Get help putting it on when you are learning
  • Don’t overdress baby as they get super warm all cuddled up

Tips for wearing with fibromyalgia:

  • Baby is close to your body
  • Check the straps do not sit at high pain points
  • Maintain good posture
  • Sit when you can
  • Try to alternate between carrying and other means of keeping baby happy
  • Avoid one-sided carriers

Types of carriers

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of these links are affiliate links and I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase using these links. Every little bit helps me make these resources. 

Wrap

20181231_102335

The stretchy wrap, one long piece of fabric that you tie up was so amazing for our newborn/fourth trimester stage. It seems tricky but after watching a YouTube instruction video twice, I had the hang of it. Plus, you set it up before putting baby in, so it is safer when you are a newbie. It keeps baby close to your body which really helps with back and neck issues. I found this super comfortable to wear.

 

 

Semi-Structured

20190304_103619Once the stretchy wrap became a bit too stretchy for his weight, we moved to a semi-structured wrap, like this one. Again, it looks fussy, but one YouTube video and I was a pro. It did take some getting used to as you have to hold baby while tying the wrap up. It keeps baby closer than the below option so is useful for back problems. My picture looks a bit fussier than it needs to be as I wrapped it one last time to tie at the front rather than the back so I could sit down comfortably once he was asleep.

Fully Structured

IMG_20170408_100432

This is the simplest of all baby carriers I have ever tried and my favourite for bigger babies. You can use it from 3kg and there is no need for an infant insert, which means all of my children were big enough from birth (we carried baby legs in initially). My second son lived in this carrier due to his reflux. It was his happy place. My husband was also happy to use this one. Whereas the others he had no interest in at all. It is as simple as clicking the waist belt, putting baby in and putting your arms in the arm holes and clicking the back belt. It takes about a minute! It doesn’t hold baby as closely as the other two options so it is tricky for me to hold for an entire nap but it is so great to throw on when we are doing the kindy run and I have a four year old, two year old and the baby to wrangle.

I never tried a ring sling as it is too one sided for my shoulders to handle, but it could be worth a try. I didn’t bother with any that weren’t suitable from birth to toddlerhood, but you can get some structured carriers that require infant inserts for the littlest babies.

Did you baby wear?


Want more information about pregnancy and parenting with fibromyalgia?

Come and join the Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia Facebook Group.

pregnancy and fibromyalgia def ed angleCheck out my book Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia 

Coaching for fibromyalgia

Coaching for Fibromyalgia: Why a Fibromyalgia Coach?

Have you heard about the concept of using a life coach to help you with your wellness goals? In this post I summarise why, benefits, what life coaching is and isn’t and how to choose one.

Why a Coach for Fibromyalgia?

Struggling with pain, fatigue, insomnia, brain fog and the host of other symptoms that come with fibromyalgia can mean daily life is difficult enough without trying to figure out how tackle these symptoms.

If I had had someone who could have said “I believe you. Here is a place to start. How are you, really?” My journey would have been much shorter. I would not have lost the entirety of my twenties to the fight.

Benefits of a coach for those with fibromyalgia

Benefits of Fibromyalgia Coaching

Dr Liptan promotes the concept in this article…because she knows a doctor cannot possibly help put the jigsaw puzzle together with you in their tiny allotted appointments. She also discusses coaching with Tami Stackelhouse (founder of the International Fibromyalgia Coaching Institute) in this video.

An article about a study on health coaching in 2016 states that “Telephonic coaching has been found to be an effective means for behavior change while also providing a convenience for the patient and clinician. Appel et al.”

In the study, nine patients participated –
At the conclusion of 12 months results included that Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire scores improved by 35%. Illnesses interference in function was reduced by 44%.

The benefits:

  • Fill the gap in the current healthcare system that people with fibromyalgia are falling through – helping patients to enact what doctors suggest but don’t have the time to show them how to do
  • Reduce the time it takes to put together a wellness plan
  • Increased functionality (you do more)
  • Decreased impact on your life
  • Support
  • Understanding

Life coaching is

A partnership between coach and client where the coach supports, encourages and provides accountability while the client works toward their goals.

Life coaching is not

Therapy or the coach taking control for the client. The only expert in your body and condition is you.

Why I Chose to Become a Coach Specialising Fibromyalgia

At the beginning of this year, I was wondering what to do next in my career. With three small children and fibromyalgia it was becoming clear that I could no longer balance work, life, health and making the resources I have made to help others fight Professional_Coach_Logofibromyalgia. When I visualised my ideal job, it was fibromyalgia coaching! Except that it took me a while to put the pieces together.

I have since studied to become a Certified Life Coach through the Transformation Academy and begun a mindfulness and meditation practitioner course.

I am supremely passionate about helping others take control of their healing journey – because I believe self-efficacy is vital. We make small decisions all day every day which add up to impact our quality of life.

How I work

I provide research, advice on how to find more information, my personal experience and help you work through the information and your own goals and ideas.

My philosophy is very positive but realistic. I have done the work myself and dragged myself from miserable and barely coping to thriving despite the fibromyalgia and I expect anyone who works with me to be ready to do the work.

In short, I empower you to take control of your healing journey.

Coaching for fibromyalgia

If You’re Considering Working with a Coach

Go through their blog, books, products, videos etc. To see if their style gels with yours. Coaching generally takes place over a longer term period, unless you have a smaller goal so you want to be comfortable with the person you choose.

Ask yourself what you would like to achieve – I am able to help you break big goals down into manageable chunks but we do need to have reasonable expectations.

Where Can You Get More Information?

My blog has around 200 articles. I have two Facebook groups you are welcome to join – Melissa (you) vs Fibromyalgia and Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia. I have written two books – Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia (affiliate link) and Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia (affiliate link).

Have a look at my Work With Me page – you can sign up for a complimentary chat where we discuss what your goals are, how I could help and if you are in a good place to begin coaching.

Curious about coaching for fibromyalgia?

Will I Still be Making Resources?

Absolutely! I will continue to write my blog posts and run my groups! How much I can do might look different while I have three children five years old and under, but I will continue to do my best.

What if I am Not in a Place for Coaching Right Now But I’d Like Some Help?

Go through all of my resources as listed above including the blog (over 200 posts) and Facebook groups (two).

I have also created a My Pain Management Plan Micro Course to give you the tools to make your own pain management plan and walk you through the process. For less than 20 USD you will receive audio lessons, video lessons and a booklet of templates and information sheets to equip you to get started on your pain management plan.

Your personal pain plan a micro course to help you make your personal pain management plan

Have you ever worked with a life coach? I’d love to hear your experience.

 

Fibromyalgia framework series part seven fatigue in fibromyalgia

Fatigue and Energy in Fibromyalgia -Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Seven

Welcome to part seven! I hope you’re enjoying this series and have made some progress.

Fibromyalgia framework series part seven fatigue in fibromyalgia

We have discussed: 

The Fibromyalgia Framework
Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books
Tracking Your Progress
Sleep
Central Nervous System
Pain Management

FATIGUE IN FIBROMYALGIA

I hope that by improving your sleep, managing pain as well as possible and meditating that fatigue is also reduced. In this part we will discuss some extra energy boosters, energy saving pacing and supplements that may help. Severe, ongoing fatigue issues that are not mitigated by good sleep and management of pain will need a real partnership with a doctor to work through.

PACING FOR FIBROMYALGIA

Pacing simply means to alternate rest with activity in a manner congruent with your pain and energy levels.

Before I had begun my journey to wellness, when I was still just trying to cope with being a young woman in terrible levels of pain and fatigue, I had this glimmer of hope in the form of reduced work hours. I had begun to conceive of the idea of pacing and boundaries before I knew anything else. Reducing my work hours to ¾ time and cutting the two hours of commuting each day was the beginning of my wellness journey and such a vital step.

HOW TO ASSESS YOUR BOUNDARIES AND IMPLEMENT WISE PACING?

  • Write it down!
  • Write down what you do each day and track your pain and fatigue levels – look for the patterns over a two week period.
  • Listen to what your body is telling you. Grab an empty piece of paper and a pen and free write about your ideal day, see what your intuition is telling you.
  • Or, to start, take what you can get. Perhaps the first step you can make is to drop one afternoon or one day off work? Start there!

THE CFS/FIBROMYALGIA RATING SCALE

For a long time, I prided myself on being a 60 on the CFS/Fibromyalgia Rating Scale, “Able to do about 6-7 hours of work a day. Mostly mild to moderate symptoms” despite pain levels more in line with a 50, “able to do 4-5 hours a day of work or similar activity at home. Daily rest required. Symptoms mostly moderate.” (My italics)

I pushed myself to 6-7 hours per day minimum and suffered moderate symptoms. I had missed the key as suggested in this article on understanding our situation: “What is the highest level of functioning I can sustain without intensifying my symptoms?” (My italics) If my pain is at a moderate level, then I should not be striving to work the hours of a person with more mild symptoms, especially given that I go home to small children as opposed to being able to rest. You need to take into account your symptom level and your situation.

These articles are from the website CFIDs and Fibromyalgia Self-Help. They run a free course that takes the idea of pacing into more detail.

SUPPLEMENTS FOR FATIGUE

See this blog post for more information about supplements for Fibromyalgia energy.

Some things that might be useful for fatigue:

  • CoQ10 (ubiquinol in its most activated form)
  • D-ribose
  • Adrenal support herbs
  • Acetyl L-Carnitine
  • B-complex vitamin
  • A general multivitamin such as the Energy Revitalization System by Dr Teitelbaum

Action: I’d love to hear your favourite energy boosters, feel free to come and join Melissa vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group and let us know.


Do you wish that you could have all of the parts of the Fibromyalgia Framework Series, along with the templates to help you plan with space for notes in one place? There is! The Fibromyalgia Framework Series Workbook is available here. Find it physically here.  Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

Curious about coaching for fibromyalgia?

 

practices I'm doing with three tiny ones and a chronic illness

Healthy Practices I’m Doing with Three Tiny Ones and a Chronic Illness

I’m right in the trenches of the war known as infant reflux. In addition to this I have a 4 year old, a two year old and fibromyalgia. It can be difficult to remember to look after myself.
practices I'm doing with three tiny ones and a chronic illness
Here are some practices I’ve been managing and some I want to begin:

Stretching

Sometimes it’s just my legs and neck while I stand with the baby in the wrap. Other times it’s a very modified yoga practice for my pelvis issues. It’s always a healthful thing to do.

Teas

Peppermint for my tummy. Chamomile to relax. Chai tea latte for a treat.

Shower or bath

Every single day. This is not negotiable as I need the pain relief and the time out (in addition to cleaning up!)

Gratitude

Usually I do my best to notice and be thankful for the good, but I am currently formalizing the practice with a journal book I purchased for 100 days of gratitude.

Water

Lots of water is required for nursing. I would like to start adding fruit and herbs for even healthier hydration.

Essential oils

I have an essential oil pain cream that I adore, especially for my neck and shoulders. Lavender and german chamomile for pain relief and sleep aid. Peppermint for headaches or tummy aches. I’d like to learn more and diffuse them during the day.
Action: tell me your favourite types and what you use them for!

Eating (as healthily as possible)

While I am mostly one-handed carrying a baby all day I am just trying to eat enough. When I can I priorotise salad, fruit and smoothies.

Meditate

This is big, especially when your sleep is being interrupted more than usual. Having a tricky napper means that the old saying “sleep when your baby sleeps” is irritating and impossible. So I will get everything set up (heat pack, earphones and YouTube video I want that day), get baby to sleep and quickly lie down. I love this 15 minute one for when I’m not game enough to try for this 30 minute one.

Hobbies

Reading! I’m an obsessive reader and usually have more than one book on the go at a time. I also like to scrapbook and colour – although I haven’t had the time for these recently. My blog is also something I spend time on.

Do you have any healthy practices you do to sustain you in busy seasons?


Are you pregnant, trying to conceive or parenting with fibromyalgia? Come and join Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia Facebook group. pregnancy and fibromyalgia def ed angle

Check out my book Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia (please note that this is an affiliate link, I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you if you purchase using this link).

Don’t forget my Fibromyalgia Framework Series if you are ready to get active on your journey fighting fibromyalgia.

Fibromyalgia Framework Series Part Six – Pain Management for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain

Welcome to part six of the Fibromyalgia Framework series! I hope you’re enjoying this series and have come to join the conversation in You vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group.

The fibromyalgia framework series has been presenting my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research.

fibromyalgia framework part seven pain management

Note: My newsletter subscribers get access to the content first and exclusive access to the freebies I’ve made – if you want to sign up in time for part seven, click here.

We have discussed: 

The Fibromyalgia Framework
Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books
Tracking Your Progress
Sleep
Central Nervous System

PAIN MANAGEMENT FOR FIBROMYALGIA/CHRONIC PAIN

We could spend a long time going through pain management options in depth, but that is outside the scope of this series. I will give you a brief introduction to the multiple options and give you extra reading you can follow up on. As you will recall from my fibromyalgia puzzle, low dose naltrexone and physiotherapy are key pain management options for me. Yours might be entirely different.

LIFESTYLE FOCUSED PAIN MANAGEMENT

  • Sleep
  • Gentle movement
  • Rest
  • Seeing food as fuel
  • Observing your work/life balance

SPECIFIC FOR PAIN – WHAT I DO:

Affiliate notice: Please note that some of my links are affiliate links, if you make a purchase using this link I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

  • Heat pack. This is my first line of defense, I use it on my neck first thing, whenever I can during the day, in the evening and at bedtime.
  • Essential oils – lavender is my all time favourite for sleep, pain and relaxation.
  • Deep Heat, a non-medicated heat producing rub that eases muscle pain, especially when combined with a good massage.
  • Biofreeze – a cooling pain reliever, especially good for during warmer weather.
  • A hot bath is my best treat and the first thing I want when the pain increases.
  • I see the physiotherapist every three weeks and they do neck tractions and place acupuncture needles in trigger points in my neck and shoulders. This is the only thing that keeps the neck free and keeps the severe headaches, dizziness and nausea that accompanies the severe neck pain away.
  • A Theracane trigger point massager for self-trigger point release. You can use your fingers, but mine get too sore for this now, you do have to push rather hard.
  • Magnesium oil on my back and shoulders at bedtime.
  • Low dose naltrexone. Over a period of 12 months, it has decreased my neck pain levels more than anything ever has. It is not a miracle drug – if I don’t take it, the fatigue skyrockets, and if I overdo it, my neck pain increases. It is not a standalone treatment. But I am super thankful for it!
  • It helps me get to sleep where nothing else has ever worked. I do have to combine it with a heap of sleep hygiene routines, but it’s the base of the plan. In addition to helping me sleep (and thereby, reducing pain), it reduced the wider spread pain and near constant headaches.
  • MSM (Methylsulfonylmethane) for muscle and joint pain. It helps with the pain in my index fingers as well as a little difference in my neck.
  • Slow release, high dose ibuprofen for period pain, for about four days – it’s pretty severe.
  • Ibuprofen or paracetamol (Acetaminophen) for headaches or low level pain that breaks through.
  • A muscle relaxant for spasms in the neck or back – the frequency of these has decreased since I began LDN.

OTHER PAIN RELIEF OPTIONS:

  • TENS machine
  • Foam roller
  • Essential oils
    • Lavender
    • Chamomile
    • Peppermint
  • Herbs
    • Thyme
    • Devil’s Claw
    • Jamaican Dogwood
    • Cayenne
    • White Willow Bark
    • Corydalis
  • Supplements
  • CBD oil

For medicinal pain relief, please discuss these options with your doctor and do your own research. Do always check for interactions between herbs/supplements and medicines that you are on.

LOW DOSE NALTREXONE

I haven’t been quiet about the benefits of low dose naltrexone (LDN). Since beginning it in 2017 I have experienced the best improvement of any single thing I have ever tried. I believe it is all down to sleeping better. The offshoots of this have been many. I have decreased pain levels, increased stamina, decreased fatigue, dramatically improved quality of life.

Find my Low Dose Naltrexone One Year Experiment post here. It includes a full write up of how it is changing my life with some links to further information.

For an overview of LDN see this website.


You might like:

Do you wish that you could have all of the parts of the Fibromyalgia Framework Series, along with the templates to help you plan with space for notes in one place? There is! The Fibromyalgia Framework Series Workbook is available here. Find it physically here.  Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

Request a session

 

health update four months postpartum with fibromyalgia

Health Update 4 Months Postpartum with Baby #3 and Fibromyalgia

I haven’t given you a proper health update for a long while. I kept you updated about the pregnancy and have given a full rundown on my low dose naltrexone experiment. But nothing about my general health recently.

Being consumed with children and nursing and surviving has impacted my health, but not as badly as I feared it would. I had a bad flare after Noah, pretty much his entire first year was a flare. With Wyatt I did better thanks to starting low dose naltrexone (LDN). But this time I am fully established on LDN, and the difference is huge.

health update four months postpartum with fibromyalgia

Pain

Average pain levels are sitting at 4/10 for my neck and shoulders. These trigger points are irritated by carrying my 7kg baby and lying on my side to feed him in the night. I have had several bad headaches and one so bad I had to go to bed for an entire morning. I am not taking pain medicines regularly, only paracetamol/acetaminophen during the worst headaches (I take the water soluble one as I cannot swallow pills when the headaches are bad and cause nausea so paracetamol is the only option at these times). My pelvis, glutes and legs are getting very sore at the end of days that I have had to carry the baby more and nights where I have had to lie on my side with baby for a long time. I have a feeling that this is due to active trigger points from labour. But generally, day to day, I am doing much better. I am using my heat pack, topical, un-medicated creams and hot showers daily.

Talking about trigger points – I have put more effort into researching and treating them. I have been using my Targeted Symptom Plan template (part of this kit in my Etsy store) to work on these.

Fatigue

Living on 6-7 broken hours of sleep is difficult for anyone and I am so thankful at how well I am coping. A 20 minute meditation makes all the difference on the days when I can. I cannot wait for baby to consistently sleep in four hour stretches!

New things to try

A person in a group I am in on Facebook suggested a brand of magnesium to try called Magnesium L-Threonate (please note this is an affiliate link and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you). Apparently it crosses the blood-brain barrier effectively. You might like to research this.

Baby product that has been saving my life

I have been so grateful for my baby wrap (affiliate). The day that I first put it on the baby stopped an hours long fussing spree! This holds baby closer to your body which reduces the strain on your back and shoulders. It also sits around your waist, not near your pelvis, this relieved the pressure that the normal front pack placed on it. At first I had to use it for all naps. Then just for naps that he woke up early from (read: all) and needed extra sleep time to be less fussy. I also use it when I am taking the four year old into kindy with the two year old and baby. I prefer my Beco Gemini front pack (affiliate) for this as it is much faster to put on, but it was stolen with our car a couple of weeks ago.

Stress

Speaking of cars. First, I was rear ended while driving one car with the baby in it. That car has been written off (in a very slow process) so we are hunting for the ideal replacement. Then the second car was stolen (with my baby carrier and three car seats in!). Very stressful. On the day of the accident I had to practice careful breathing and some relaxation techniques. I dealt with it much better than I would have several years ago. But it hasn’t been much fun navigating all this.

What’s next?

I am studying a life coaching course on Udemy to support my mission here on the blog. Do come along and join my Facebook group if you want access to super special discounts while I am setting up this service. I am trying to get baby to begin taking a bottle so I can catch a break one day. I am also considering how and when to get back to work with three tiny children – one of whom seems destined to be breastfed forever!

How are you doing?

fibromyalgia framework part five central sensitivity and how meditation can help

Fibromyalgia Framework Part Five: Central Sensitivity and How Meditation Can Help

Welcome to part five! I hope you’re enjoying this series! Did you catch the last one Sleep? It was pretty meaty and I hope very helpful.

The fibromyalgia framework series is going to present my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research. I’ll share this with you.

Fibromyalgia framework series part seven pain management for fibromyalgia and chronic pain

We have discussed:

The Fibromyalgia Framework
Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books
Tracking Your Progress
Sleep

CENTRAL SENSITIVITY/OVERACTIVE NERVOUS SYSTEM IN FIBROMYALGIA

A lot of research suggests that Fibromyalgia is the result of central nervous system dysfunction – specifically an overactive nervous system, stressing and exhausting the brain (Dennis W. Dobritt, Fibromyalgia – A Brief Overview)[1]. Other literature suggests that the chronic pain causes the central nervous system to go into overdrive. However you look at it, the nervous system appears to be involved.

The theory of autonomic nervous system dysfunction resonates with me as a big part of the puzzle – not the entire answer.

A lot of programmes are popping up and claiming to “cure” chronic pain (Lightning Process, Curable app, the CFS Unraveled programme, various books with similar programmes) based upon the idea of retraining the brain. If these programmes are the entire answer for someone, I am happy for them. But mostly they are going to be one part of the puzzle.

MEDITATION

Meditation promotes a calming of the central nervous system, allowing the parasympathetic nervous system to activate. In the short-term that meant achieving deep rest during meditation, in the longer term it meant a dramatic reduction of the misfiring of my fight or flight response to minor stimuli.

The benefits:

  • Complete rest
  • Calming the central nervous system (Martinez-Martinez et al, 2014[2])
  • A break from stimulus
  • Focus on the body, accepting it as it is (mindfulness).
  • Not trying to nap, which can be frustrating for those who can’t.
  • For those who have trouble with orthostatic intolerance, just lying down can make you feel better.
  • A boost in energy (however temporary).
  • Improve the immune system (University Health News Daily, 2018)
  • Treat depression
  • Reduce pain

MEDITATION OPTIONS

You can:

  • Simply focus on your breath for a few moments. How you breathe in, how the breath feels a little warmer on the way out. How your body feels when you exhale. How your breaths get a little longer as you relax. Don’t push anything, just observe.
  • Do your own body scan meditation – by quietly thinking of each part of your body in turn, noticing the feeling in each, accepting it, willing that part to relax and moving to the next.
  • Do progressive relaxation – by tensing and releasing each part of your body in turn you can encourage it to relax deeply. As an example you could start with your feet, tense and release, your lower legs, upper legs, glutes, abdomen, arms, face.
  • Guided meditations – YouTube has a heap available including Yoga Nidra, mindfulness meditations, meditation specific to pain or fatigue etc.

As an extra form of rest, you can lie down or recline in a chair with a heat pack.

Blue one way traffic sign

MINDFULNESS FOR FIBROMYALGIA

A working definition for mindfulness is to be observant of thoughts and feelings without judging them. To allow our body to be as it and accept it as it is.

A research paper (Cash et al 2016) found that mindfulness meditation “ameliorated some of the major symptoms of fibromyalgia and reduced subjective illness burden.” Other studies have also shown the effects to be sustained at three year follow ups, with consistent practice.

There are plenty of courses and books around learning mindfulness. One such book is by Vidyamala Birch, founder of Breathworks (a UK based organization that teaches mindfulness) and chronic pain warrior, You Are Not Your Pain: Using Mindfulness to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress and Restore Wellbeing – an Eight Week Program. I enjoyed this book immensely.

The concept of mindfulness can follow you out of the practice of mediation and into daily life.

FURTHER READING

Books

  • You Are Not Your Pain: Using Mindfulness to Relieve Pain, Reduce Stress and Restore Wellbeing – an Eight Week Program by Vidyamala Birch and Danny Penman (2013)
  • Back in Control: A Surgeon’s Roadmap out of Chronic Pain by David Hanscom
  • Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body by Jo Merchant (2016)

Articles

Activities

  • Free writing for 5-15 minutes per day, then destroy the paper.
  • Deep breathing (minimum of five quiet breaths when you feel the need, up to 10 minutes of specific mindful breathing a day) this is a nice 3 minute
  • Write down your happiness level and social connection level each day, keep a gratitude list and remember your people.
  • Do a loving-kindness meditation each day like this one
  • Do a chronic pain relieving meditation like this one.

Special opportunity! I am passionate about incorporating mindfulness and meditation into coaching sessions- if you would like to find out more or grab a special session to learn to meditate see here.

[1] Dennis W. Dobritt, DO, DABPM, FIPP. Fibromyalgia – A Brief Overview (a presentation). Retrieved from https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdch/fibroacpsm_246421_7.pdf

[2] L.A. Martínez-Martínez, T. Mora, A. Vargas, M. Fuentes-Iniestra, & M. Martínez-Lavín. (2014). Sympathetic nervous system dysfunction in fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, and interstitial cystitis: a review of case-control studies. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24662556


Impatient? Want to work through the content now? The Fibromyalgia Framework Workbook is available to purchase, with all of the templates (freebies and templates recommended from my Etsy Store) with space for notes to work through the content as a course. Find the Fibromyalgia Framework here (digital). Find it physically here

6 Practices for Calming an Overactive Nervous System

As a natural result of practicing meditation for the past several years (which I began purely for the deep rest), my overactive fight or flight response calmed greatly. Sometimes things happen to trigger it again.

6 Calming

Recently, I was driving to my parent’s house when someone crashed into us from behind. The impact was so hard the tow bar bent up in half. I immediately rushed to my three month old baby to calm him. Once I’d placed him back in his seat to discuss details with the drivers behind me and surveyed the damage I began shaking and my heartrate went on overdrive.

The first practice I employed to calm my system was to breathe as well as I could given the situation. We had to finish the drive to my parents as my husband and older two boys were meeting us there. I did my absolute best to think on using my diaphragm and not my chest. I was only half successful.

Once we got to my parent’s and the baby was asleep in my arms I sat down with a heat pack and a glass of water. That time out was crucial.

A bit later when I realised I was still quite worked up, I went and sang a couple of my favourite songs on my brother’s Sing Star game. How can you focus on what stressed you out when you’re trying to keep up with the words and tune?!

The following morning, while struggling with the interplay of increased stress response, pain and fatigue (the baby slept with me all night as neither of us wanted to separate), I chose to do a 15 minute yoga nidra meditation (there was no time for a full rest).

See this post about meditation.

See here for how to grab a personalised one on one session on meditation or coaching with mindfulness incorporated in the programme.

Another practice for working through anxiety and the fight or flight response is to write it out. Either in a journal you keep or on a piece of paper you throw out.

Talking about it can also help. Examine why you react how you do, what influences you, consider some steps to take to actively manage it.

The practices

1. Diaphragmatic breathing
2. Time out
3. Singing (or hobby you enjoy)
4. Meditation
5. Write it out
6. Talk about it

What are your go to practices for stress?

My growing list of fibromyalgia treatments

Sleep, sleep tips, hygiene and tips to help you sleep with fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia Framework Series Four – Sleep: Sleep research, sleep hygiene, sleep tips

Welcome to part four of the Fibromyalgia Framework Series! I hope you’re enjoying this series and have come to join the conversation in Melissa (You) vs Fibromyalgia Facebook group.

The fibromyalgia framework series has been presenting my (evolving) view of managing fibromyalgia. In 2018 some of my strongly held theories were proven true by experience and research. I’ll share this with you.

We have discussed: 

The Fibromyalgia Framework – with your free framework template!
Diagnosis, Misdiagnosis and Fibro Books
Tracking Your Progress

Sleep, sleep tips, hygiene and tips to help you sleep with fibromyalgia

SLEEP WITH FIBROMYALGIA

Sleep is huge. I had theorized that sleep was a crucial missing component in my healing journey for a long time. Research is starting to bear this out. Doctors specializing in and writing about fibromyalgia know it. It still hasn’t trickled down to most practitioners.

Once I began low dose naltrexone I started to sleep in more than one hour blocks. Getting restful sleep has been the basis of all the improvements I experienced over 2017 and 2018 despite having tiny children and a third pregnancy.

SLEEP RESEARCH

There’s a lot of research about the sleep issue in Fibromyalgia and chronic deep sleep deprivation is no friend to our pain, fatigue or brain. We can do quite a few things ourselves to impact our sleep, but sometimes we need a doctor to step in and help. I am very lucky that a locum GP I saw once noticed my history of being very tired and not sleeping well and put me on amitriptyline. This was before I was diagnosed so I’m unsure if he suspected Fibromyalgia or not. This was the only way I could get any sleep for years. That doesn’t mean it helps me to sleep well or that I don’t have a list of sleep hygiene rules that I live by.

Based upon my reading of the research, books by my favourite fibromyalgia authors and my experience, my number one recommendation to anyone suffering from chronic pain or similar illnesses is to get your sleep.

SOME SLEEP HYGIENE TIPS

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Go to bed and get up around the same time each day.

  • Manage pain – take prescribed medicines as directed.
  • Pacing during the day so you are not over-exhausted.
  • Don’t have caffeine after lunch.
  • Have a wind-down routine (that doesn’t involve technology).
  • Go to bed and get up at approximately the same time each day.
  • Dab lavender oil on temples, wrists and/or feet.
  • Do a body scan meditation.

EXTRA SLEEP HELP

Once you have tried the above sleep hygiene tips, it might be worth exploring natural sleep options such as:

  • Lavender essential oil
  • Chamomile
  • Valerian
  • Lemonbalm
  • GABA supplement
  • CBD oil (if it is legal where you live)
  • Magnesium

If you have been struggling to sleep for a good while, have tried all of the sleep hygiene and natural options available it is time to discuss options with your doctor.

  • Melatonin
  • 5 HTP
  • Low dose naltrexone – do your research, take it to your doctor, but please note that for some it causes insomnia.
  • Stronger sleep aids for short term use, under strict medical supervision.

This article from Dr Teitelbaum might be of use for further sleep help.

Sleep is one area where we really need our doctors to be on board. If yours is not, then try to find another one.

My sleep logs and sleep hygiene tips

You can purchase your Sleep Hygiene Tips sheet, My Sleep Hygiene Plan and My Sleep Diary templates from my Etsy store to help you get started today on improving your sleep.

Please note that some of my links are affiliate links and I may make a commission at no extra cost to you.

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