The Importance of Pacing Yourself When You Have Fibromyalgia

Isabel Diaz 

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Over the past few weeks, I have overdone everything: physical therapy, socializing, cleaning, doctors appointments, unhealthy eating, driving and more. Worst of all, I thought I was doing well by walking every day, which I had not been able to do for years for any great distance. That’s what killed me the most. I can’t walk as much as I did, and, worst of all, I forgot I can’t.

I imagined myself on this healthy path with no limitations. My body and mind were not together. My mind was enjoying a life with no limits, while my body was experiencing a complete meltdown. I kept pushing the limits of my capabilities.

Now, I am paying for it – pain, muscle stiffness, exhaustion, muscle tension, weakness in the legs and depression.  I went from going 60 miles an hour to almost zero. I had to pace myself, stop physical therapy, rearrange my calendar, perform the necessary tasks at my pace and remind myself to go back to basics – pace myself, eat right, try to get enough sleep, meditation, writing, reach out to friends. I had to establish a healthy routine.

I thought I was normal and healthy again. I don’t like the term “normal,” because that would mean that I define myself as abnormal due to my health and that is incorrect. I hit a wall, and I hit it hard.  Reality reminded me that I am not healthy and that I must consciously think about things the rest of the world does not have to.

I did not have to deal with pain while I was pushing myself this hard, almost like I was running away from the fibromyalgia. But the running caught up with me, and I am paying the price. My legs are not working properly. For the first few days, I found it difficult to walk more than a few feet. It’s a little better now.

I have a “box theory,” that I am stuck in this box and every part of my life is in there – my illness and its limitations, my family, my responsibilities, my financial issues, etc.

I was spending most of my time and energy trying to reach outside of the box. I was using all my spoons and then some, mentally trying to get out of the box.

It’s time to expand the box – to find alternatives to my limitations – pace myself, plan, acknowledge and feel. Compromise in the middle, instead of on nothing, practice mindfulness and schedule activities, appointments and exercise carefully.  It’s all about balance.

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