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16 Things Fibromyalgia Sufferers Need to Stop Doing

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Reprinted with the kind permission of Julie Ryan at Counting My Spoons.

There’s an article that’s gone viral in the last few weeks, 30 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself. As I read it, I couldn’t help but think just how true so many of them were and thought that there were certain ones that were especially appropriate for those of us suffering from Fibro, CFS and other debilitating conditions.

  1. Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – If you have any sort of chronic debilitating condition, you need to put your own needs first. Even if you are the healthiest person on the planet, you shouldn’t let your needs go to the back of the line. Since Fibro is most common among women, this is especially true as women seem to be trained that their needs should come last after their husband, children, church, jobs, volunteer effort and anything else that could possible come before them. It’s any wonder we give ourselves any time at all; sadly, too many of us don’t.
  2. Stop spending time with the wrong people. – If someone is adding stress to your life, that stress is making you sick. Remove the stress by removing that person. You may not be able to completely remove them, but you can choose to avoid them when possible.
  3. Stop holding grudges. – Holding a grudge is an unnecessary stress. It causes us to create negative thoughts about a person when we do think of them and to only focus on those negative thoughts, when we should be trying to find ways to focus on more positive things. Let go of the grudge. You’ll still think of the person on occasion, but when you do just shrug it off and replace the thought with a thought of someone you care about that makes you smile.
  4. Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – The ability to say “No” is a highly under-rated one. Too often those of us with Fibromyalgia are likely to be unable to say “No”, feeling guilty when we can’t or won’t say “yes”. We can’t be everything to everyone, we can’t even be everything to ourselves and we don’t have to be.
  5. Stop lying to yourself. – You are sick, admit it. You don’t feel great. Someone else asks and you answer with “I’m OK” but it’s not the truth. It’s not the truth when you say it to them and it’s certainly not the truth when you say it to yourself.
  6. Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Most people don’t care enough about you to care about your disease or disorder or why you can’t do what you can’t do. Keep it simple, just say “no” and move on. Don’t try to explain why you can’t do it, because they probably aren’t listening anyway.
  7. Stop trying to hold on to the past. – While you may be able to find ways to improve your symptoms, you’ll likely never be 100% again. There will always be limits. Stop trying to re-attain the levels of life you had before your illness and realize that was then and this is now. Focus on what you CAN do instead of what you used to be able to do.
  8. Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – Guilt and blame are our constant friends. Stop beating yourself up over things you’ve done in the past (or things you wish you had done but didn’t). It’s in the past, let it go and move on. Again, focus on what you can do in the future.
  9. Stop being jealous of others. – It’s so easy to be jealous of what others have or what others can do. Little do we realize that they have limitations, too. No one sees the true life of another, their abilities or disabilities, their limits. Don’t judge your life based on the “Jones”, real or imagined. Focus on what you have that is wonderful.
  10. Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Seriously! It’s ok to throw a pity party once in a while, but it should never last for more than 5 minutes and you should never invite friends.  Focus on the positives in life, there are many.
  11. Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – How many times have we heard that we should “stop and smell the roses”. You don’t really appreciate those small things until you can’t do them anymore. So, take a few moments each day and really think about the small things you were able to enjoy. Write them down so you can look back on them later when you are contemplating that pity party.
  12. Stop trying to make things perfect. – They already are. Ok, maybe they aren’t perfect, maybe they can even be better than they are now. But the point is that you need to focus on reality instead of perfection. Take small steps to improve things and get closer to the idea of what you want your life to be like, and not constantly worrying about how far from perfect you still are.
  13. Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – Everything is NOT OK, and it’s ok to tell the truth. When a real friend or someone who really cares about you asks how you are, be honest. Stop answering with “I’m fine” because you aren’t.
  14. Stop worrying so much. – You feel like life is out of control, and it is so don’t worry about it. Let life be what it’s going to be. Control the things you can control and let the rest go. Constant worrying will only make you feel worse.
  15. Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – You don’t want to wake up tomorrow in a flare, so it’s all you think about and you end up keeping yourself from sleeping, which results in waking up in a flare. Sound familiar? Well, stop it. Instead of thinking “I don’t want…” think “I want….”. Focus on the good nights rest you know you WILL get and how great you know you will feel tomorrow because you made the right choices about the things that ARE in your control.
  16. Stop being ungrateful. – Be grateful, every minute of every day. There is something wonderful to be grateful for. Say “Thank You” for the small things and mean it. Instead of getting upset that someone did something that you intended to do because it made you feel “useless” or like they thought you weren’t doing your part, be thankful that they just freed you up to do something else you wanted to do.

I probably could have worked in all 30 of the original list, but these are enough. Which of these do you need to work on in your life? What have you found it important to stop doing to feel better? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


About the Author: Julie Ryan is a fellow Fibromyalgia Warrior, freelance writer, and blogger. In addition to Fibromyalgia, Julie is currently diagnosed with Endometriosis, Migraines, Cluster Headaches, and Hypothyroid. She shares her journey, along with inspiration, and information on her blog at http://countingmyspoons.com

You can follow Julie on Twitter and Facebook.

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12 thoughts on “16 Things Fibromyalgia Sufferers Need to Stop Doing”

  1. Darian12 says:

    I suffer with the condition and find it so difficult to work 5 days a week, I do work but only 3 days a week and I am feeling depressed and when I have helped my son who suffers with cerebral palsy I then sleep for 2 days cause I burn my self out. I keep feeling jealous of people and I don’t want to it it’s me to feel this way. I am on a low income and that keeps worrying me. In stead of feeling grateful I don’t, I am 52 and want to change my life.

  2. princesslittlefoot says:

    do you recall the old song latch on to the afirmative? negativity kills you. it DRAINS you of everything you need to be happy and well.

    you gotta latch on to the afirmative
    eliminate the negative
    and don’t mess with Mr Inbetween
    to illustrate my last remark
    as Jonna in the whale
    and Noah in the ark

    you gotta latch on to the afirmative
    eliminate the negative
    and don’t mess with Mr. Inbetween

    just a few lines of the greatest song ever!!!!!!

  3. MarcieRose says:

    How about stop beating yourself about the head and shoulders with this article?

  4. chrissym80 says:

    I agree with SOME of this information, but it sounds a little like “doctor Phil” to me! THe “don’t do it” or “stop doing it,” is’nt really helpful. I have fibromyalgia among other things, and there are days I get seriously depressed and it’s hard to get out of feeling so bad especially when you have little to no emotional support from from family and friends. It’s depressing to not have anyone to talk to about how you’re feeling unless it’s a counselor or in a support group, which I don’t go to often. And I think it strikes a nerve with some of us who suffer from this debilitating disease, when people who do not have it nor understand what we go through on a daily basis tell us what we should or shouldn’t do. Even MD’s don’t always have the answer!!

    1. pearls says:

      Dear cryissym80,

      You are so right that even the MD’s don’t always have the answer. That is true. However, it is also true that nobody has THE answer.

      The truth is that for fibromyalgia, each of us have to learn many answers. Also, what is an answer for me for one thing might not apply to you. I was diagnosed about 14 years ago, and can tell you that I had tremendous daily pain and all the rest, as well, including digestive woes, problems with tingling, numbness, heat or cold in particular areas of the body, sleep problems, etc., etc.

      Today, I’m much, much better and life is good. I still have symptoms, but they are much easier to bear. It has been a long, tough journey, but I have found many things that have been helpful for me. Each little thing is a step in the right direction.

      The author of this article is trying to share some things that have worked for her. Perhaps you’re ready to try one or two of them. I strongly urge you to do so. I’ve learned that everything she has advocated is sound and helpful, even if it does sound a little “Dr. Phil.”

      Here are a few additional things that have worked for me:

      1) Earplugs. Okay, I do not like using them and have had to get used to them. But they helped me cut out noises that go in the way of my sleep.

      2) Going to bed at the same time every night. I hated this, as well, because I was used to staying up to all hours whenever I wanted to read or visit. But this helped stabilize my sleep – and to help my other symptoms, I can not have anything interfere with that.

      3) Eating real food: I don’t want to cook when I feel bad. Ersatz food, such a bottled salad dressings, dry cereal, and coffee creamer, make things easier and take longer to spoil, but they don’t have the nutrient power of real food. In addition, they have a lot of stuff that is harmful to us. Just as plants benefit from nutrient-rich soil, our bodies benefit from nutrient-rich food.

      4) Having a throw on my chair that is both large and soft enough. Look for comforts where you can.

      5) The best books I’ve found so far were written by a medical doctor who has fibromyalgia herself, Dr. Devin Starlanyl. What she says about medications is a bit dated now, but most of the information is still very sound. The books are “Fibromyalgia & Chronic Myofascial Pain: a Survival Manual,” and “The Fibromyalgia Advocate: Getting the support you need to cope with fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome.” They are both in paperback, and both are quite large. I cannot state more strongly that every person with fibromyaliga should have and read both of these books.

      Okay, that’s enough for now. My heart goes out to you since you say you have so little support from others. Even for those of us who have support, it takes years for those who are close to us to gain any real understanding of what we go through. It is very hard for them, as well, though certainly not nearly as hard as what we are going through.

      -Pearl S.

    2. namawmills says:

      As I lay here going through withdrawl from oxycocone and norco because I didn’t remember to make a Dr.s appointment I read this article. Being on these two drugs has been very stressful as I was scared I would get addicted. I am now convincing myself that I do not need them. Your article has given me a new way to think. I may not be able to climb 14000 ft. Mountains anymore but I can still climb the stairs
      LOL. Thanks so much.

    3. Carolin says:

      I have Fibromyalgia and Crohns disease it is very difficult to eat healthy. I don’t digest fiber,raw veggies or a lot of fruits or many cooked vegetables.
      Pain meds are also a issue, pain meds for Fibromyalgia affect my Crohns and cause severe constipation.
      Do you have any suggestions ?

    4. Carolin says:

      I have Fibromyalgia and Crohns disease it is very difficult to eat healthy. I don’t digest fiber,raw veggies or a lot of fruits or many cooked vegetables.
      Pain meds are also a issue, pain meds for Fibromyalgia affect my Crohns and cause severe constipation.
      Do you have any suggestions ?

    5. Carolin says:

      I have Fibromyalgia and Crohns disease it is very difficult to eat healthy. I don’t digest fiber,raw veggies or a lot of fruits or many cooked vegetables.
      Pain meds are also a issue, pain meds for Fibromyalgia affect my Crohns and cause severe constipation.
      Do you have any suggestions ?

  5. g6969m1 says:

    I agree with the trials and hardships of this condition . I do find myself on an island . Of all the female suffers that I meet , everyone seems different , exspecially me . As a man , I seem to have a more inflated condition . Women seem to be able to carry on with cooking , cleaning etc. as I really struggle at any chore . Not that I am not used to these as have been single and lived alone most of my life . It seems as though my fibro fog is worse but maybe my perception . Do you know of many men and their symptoms?
    I am 59 going on my 7 th year of being disabled but can not collect disability , but truly I believe I have always had this from my past expierences as a child and adult stages . It just finally won me over as I tried to fight it . Walked the golf course from sun up to sun down in 2009 thinking i would get stronger , but the opposite occured and have not worked since .
    Just another view point from a male perspective,
    Gary Mendel

  6. Chester2013 says:

    I need to stop apologising when I can’t do certain things, stop feeling so guilty because I have fibro and Ankylosing Spondilitis which limits some of the things I can/can’t do.
    I really need to be kinder to myself and put myself first from time to time.
    I’m so grateful to my fiancé, he is amazing and doesn’t judge or have a go at me for not getting the housework done, he tells me off for doing too much! I have people in my life that care about me and although they don’t all understand what it’s like living with a debilitating disease, they are very understanding and it makes a huge difference. The only thing I really need is a proper full nights sleep!
    Thank you for the article, I can relate to all of it. Always try to be positive and when having a flare, rest and put yourself first.

  7. tez15 says:

    I enjoyed the article, cause these are things that are hard to stop
    doing. Probably admitting it to myself is the hardest. And then my family.

    Thanks for the encouragement.

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