It’s easy to confuse wellness with good health, but while they are similar concepts, they aren’t quite the same thing. You can have good health without maintaining wellness. And, especially important for people with fibromyalgia, you can have wellness even if you don’t have good health.
After all, having fibromyalgia means that you aren’t exactly in good health. You’re dealing with a horrible, chronic illness. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do a few things to improve your mental wellbeing. So what exactly do we mean by “wellness?” And what can you do to maintain wellness when you have fibromyalgia?
What is Wellness?
Wellness describes a general state of wellbeing. It’s a state of being in control of the way you think and being comfortable with who you are. It means that you take charge of those negative thoughts and emotions and learn to overcome them so that they don’t have a significant impact on your quality of life.
There are a lot of different ways to maintain wellness. And it’s not all about “the power of positive thinking can overcome anything,” pie-in-the-sky ideology that promises to completely fix everything in your life. Part of wellness is understanding the physical limitations that you experience and learning to cope with them. We don’t have a cure for fibromyalgia. And even the means we have of treating it aren’t always effective. But you can learn to manage it and maintain a sense of wellness in spite of it.
How do you Maintain Wellness with Fibromyalgia?
Fibromyalgia limits a lot of the things that you can do. There’s no way to get around that. No matter how well you manage your symptoms, there are always going to be days when you just can’t get out of bed. And that’s ok.
Part of maintaining mental wellness with such a devastating disease is accepting that there are going to be days where you just can’t do everything that’s expected of you because you’re wracked with pain and fatigue that most people couldn’t comprehend if they tried. And the best way you can handle that is learning not to blame yourself. And as strange as it might seem to someone who doesn’t have a chronic illness that someone who does would feel guilty about how their pain keeps them from living a normal life, a lot of people who do suffer know that feeling well. But it is not your fault that your illness is holding you back.
You didn’t do anything to deserve fibromyalgia. No one deserves fibromyalgia. It’s a horrible disease that would break the will of almost anyone. But when you have fibromyalgia and you get up every day anyway and do the best you are capable of, then you should feel proud of what you can accomplish, not guilty for the things you can’t. You wouldn’t expect other people to accomplish things they aren’t physically capable of, don’t demand it of yourself.
But at the same time, know that people will make unfair demands of you. And people generally, sometimes won’t know how to deal with you generally. Nearly everyone with fibromyalgia has lost friends who just couldn’t handle the way their illness affected them. It’s an emotional dagger in your heart when you’re already in the middle of a terrifying chronic illness. And it’s not fair to you.
Yet, if you can learn to forgive those people, and understand why they did it, you’ll find a strength and a capacity for empathy that is incredibly rare among people who don’t have a chronic illness. But because of what they’ve been through, that quality is very common among people who do. Realize that the people who disappeared from your life are the ones who missed out, not you.
After all, living with fibromyalgia is a daily struggle that most people can’t begin to understand or even imagine. And those who do it emerge from every day a stronger, more caring person every day. But just getting up in the morning requires someone with fibromyalgia to find that strength every single day.
If you can learn to accept and appreciate that you become a better person every day because of the way you have to fight your disease, finding that strength to get up in the morning will get easier.
But even if you can embrace all these aspects of mental wellness, remember also that there will always come days when it all seems like a total sham. Even the strongest person has days when they’re filled with self-doubt and the misery of living with fibromyalgia seems like all there really is.
Yet, how many people could get up in the morning in spite of feeling that way? Not many, and if you can then you owe yourself a pat on the back for finding the strength that most people never could.