Working while surviving and planning to live Well with Fibromyalgia is not uncommon. I have worked, volunteered during Hurricane Katrina, spent 8 years in college and then two years in graduate school. During those last two years, I interned 24 hours a week; with a full schedule at the university. I was in pain and many days it was a struggle. Once every other month I had to call in and tell them I was unable to come in as my pain level had increased. Usually, I was able to cover most of the work from home, otherwise I completed the next day. It was an interesting experience to work with my fibromyalgia syndrome; in many ways.
I never had a supervisor or coworker come right out and tell me that I was incapable of performing my job duties. I am actually a very competent worker, or was then. Most coworkers were considerate about my pain syndrome, but, there were always the few who I just knew looked at me sideways. I choose to ignore them as simply being ignorant of my situation. Better than that was doing this; if the opportunity came up, I would spend a few minutes in conversation with the person, discussing what it felt like to be in my body. I let go of their internal reactions. Afterall, this was not my personal issue and didn’t serve any positive purpose for me.
I am not currently working but I would prefer it. I found out that I did better when I was out among people. When I moved my body and mind from task to task. I definitely paid for it some days! I have often pondered why working and studying so hard helped me with my pain levels. I have come to the conclusion that my serotonin and endorphin levels had a greater output. Why? Because, I was happy, I was exercising, I was using my brain to focus on others and other things. I was not giving it the time to focus on my pain.
This has taught me a lesson that I keep close to my heart; keep as busy as I can. My busy today doesn’t come close to the busy then, but it still accomplishes some of that distraction that I used to experience. I know we all get angry at our doctors and family who tell us to stay busy. I did and do, don’t get me wrong. However, it turns out they are correct, at least for me. On the days when I flare beyond my endurance to get up and move my focus is all on my pain. There is no joy, no tasks, no focus on something besides me which stops those all important neurotransmitters from firing as well.
I am not writing this to chastise those of us who can no longer work. I am remembering that it can be better than just staying home. Work is a subjective idea. I try to work on my blog and other plans every day at home. I stay busy with odd, small and quick jobs in the house. I pick one larger chore each week and focus on it for an hour. Keeping an organized, and same plan in place for what needs to be done each day also allows me to look forward and know where, and if, I can do outside of the home activities or maybe just spending time drawing for a half hour.
I have spent today engaged in a few small tasks, like this blog, responding to Peers on forums and blogs, submitting a page for publication (it was already complete) and know I am going to work on a my once a week large project. I am going to go do this, despite feeling like a large flare is coming on; perhaps if I get going with it, my pain levels will decrease. Perhaps not. But, for me, it is worth trying.
If you missed my organization tips for a binder or a daily reminder book, or just handling your chores, use the search box. Wishing you all the best in whatever efforts you can handle today.
Lucinda Tart, Fibromyalgia Peer Advocate/Life Skills Coach