My Fight Versus Fibromyalgia Includes Using My Mind

My Fight Versus Fibromyalgia Includes Using My Mind

By Melissa Reynolds.

Editor’s Note—Everyone’s journey vs. chronic pain is unique, and the National Pain Report likes to find patients who are finding some individual success and are willing to share with our audience. Here’s another example:

Meditation is one of my favorite ways to manage the chronic pain and fatigue that come with the illness I fight, fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is thought to affect from 3-to-6% of the world’s population. It is a chronic condition with no known origin or cure, but many treatment options on offer. The prevalence of chronic pain is thought to be even higher.

Melissa Reynolds

Mindfulness meditation is one treatment option that has been well researched for chronic pain. The basic premise is to non-judgmentally observe experiences. To notice pain and not react, to just have knowledge of it without imbuing meaning to it.

This article summarizes some of the benefits of mindfulness meditation for those fighting chronic pain:  “Studies show that when people meditate, brain activity in regions related to pain perception can be altered, and this can correspond to higher pain tolerance.”

If you are curious, there is a wealth of information about meditation and mindfulness for chronic pain and fibromyalgia. It is also good for general wellbeing.

A free Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction technique course is available here it was created by a certified instructor, based upon a university program founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn (an author and mindfulness instructor worth looking up also).

Let me say that I have spent a lot of time meditating to realize some of the benefits I list. Hundreds and hundreds of hours meditating for rest and only slightly less practicing mindfulness. From full body scans, to short breath awareness meditations and focusing on specific parts of my body asking for release.

Here is a five minute mindful breathing meditation that I love https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVaMLYAiR8o&list=PLoLbQHZNNqOot9fuU7iKVMG-JZj1376k8&index=5

Here is a 20-minute guided mindfulness meditation on coping with chronic pain that I do regularly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZEHwEtnaak&list=PLoLbQHZNNqOot9fuU7iKVMG-JZj1376k8&index=10

The benefits of meditation and mindfulness have permeated every area of my life. Here’s how I use it:

For deep rest.

Neuroimaging during meditation has shown that it can produce alpha waves, a state of deep rest. As someone who has suffered moderate insomnia for over a decade, this was an amazing find. It also helps refill the energy bucket in the afternoon when I’m running low, far more effectively than coffee. When my children have interrupted my sleep, as someone with the inability to nap, meditation is an opportunity to get some rest. This was the most immediate benefit of meditation for me.

For pain management.

The ability to tune in and ascertain the differences in my pain has been immensely useful. Rather than a blob of pain, I can tease the strands (because the body is a whole and there are many parts to pain) and this in turn helps me to seek the correct treatment.

For example, I recently woke with a very tight right shoulder and couldn’t turn my head to the right without a lot of pain. As someone who has spent a long time learning to pay attention, I have learnt the feelings and movements of different parts of the neck and shoulder area. So, when I meditated, which relaxes the whole body, I also focused on the individual parts associated with this pain and gently encouraged them to release.

Pain is a complex phenomenon. There’s the interrelation of the physical (like the joints and muscles) and how we respond to this pain. In the case of this issue, I needed to reduce the tension in the surrounding muscles so that it didn’t put more pressure on the joint (my upper neck joints are tricky to manage).

If I quietly decide to examine what’s happening and use my knowledge to ease it as best as I can, there is a real sense of empowerment. I believe that we have vast amounts of power in managing chronic pain and knowing that does help in coping with it.

To avoid panic and frustration.

When I realize I’m feeling overwhelmed by symptoms or a situation, I will quietly focus on my breath. How my breath feels going in, how it’s a little warmer on the way out. How my breaths lengthen the longer I focus. This small break to focus on something as simple as breathing is surprisingly calming.

Awareness.

Mindfulness has also helped me to be more aware of myself and my reactions. It has helped me to assess symptoms appropriately and at times advocate for myself – especially if I feel something is written off as part of the fibromyalgia when it is not. Being mindful has also helped me to cope with the struggles of a long-term chronic illness.

These are not insignificant benefits so I wholly recommend meditation and mindfulness to anyone who is struggling with chronic pain and/or fibromyalgia.

Melissa Reynolds is a mama who’s been fighting Fibromyalgia for more than a decade. After struggling through the first half of her twenties exhausted and miserably sore without any doctor interested in helping her, she decided to begin fighting for herself. She shares the results of her journey on her blog Melissa vs Fibromyalgia and is the author of Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia and Melissa vs Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia . She lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband and children.

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Authored by: Melissa Reynolds

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sandy auriene sullivan

“To avoid panic and frustration.

When I realize I’m feeling overwhelmed by symptoms or a situation, I will quietly focus on my breath. How my breath feels going in, how it’s a little warmer on the way out. How my breaths lengthen the longer I focus. This small break to focus on something as simple as breathing is surprisingly calming.”

That is one I do often too! No magic bullet for pain but a bunch of different ways to cope. Focus on breathing takes mind off so much and can help those of us with non-combat PTSD and combat PTSD. I still need medication for pain and anxiety but both work a heck of a lot better when I do focus on my breathing to keep calm.

Thanks for this!

Jacqueline

I wish just ONE doctor or ONE patient would understand that M.E. (FMS) gets WORSE with age. I’ve had M.E. for 50 years and my pain is in no way equal to those who’ve just been diagnosed or who’ve had it for a few years. Know this: there are NO doctors of any kind in Connecticut who know as much as I do. In fact, they know nothing. The only way to get care in Connecticut is if you are a doctor’s wife. I’ve worked for several hospitals and medical facilities in Connecticut all my life, and it was my job to kick both inpatients and others off the schedule because of doctor’s wives.

Connecticut = The Anti-Healthcare State

Kathleen Shelby

Thank you so much for the links you gave us. I had to quit my job because of pain and pain meds and have now had to give up my car keys because of above said. So obviously I can’t go anywhere to learn meditation, and losingy career has been more hurtful and stressful than I thought it would be. Again thanks so much.

reg

iv suffer with sever pain for 31 years and ben there guinea pig over and over another one of my pain doctor past away so to a new doctor and the sane experiments again when can I stop being a experiment to get help? well now I guess! cause thy want to experiment and not give me no meds for my pain now. and to me this sounds like a plant that thy got set in there head and trying to get people to agree with again. maybe it is just some one really trying to help to! sorry for the negative but ben there done that and a lots more again and again. and thy cant fix me so thy leave me to suffer now with no meds thank for hearing me.

Abby

I Meditate every day, 45 minutes, for decades! I highly recommend it. For the muscle, joint and tendon pain of Fibromyalgia, NARCOTICS is the only medicine that touches the joint, tendon and muscle pain of Fibromyalgia.

JULIA GILLESPIE

I’ve tried meditation and mindfulness. All it does is turn off the distractions and help me focus on my pain. I suffer with CRPS, CVS, CVS, hEDS, etc. I’m so happy that you have found success with this. It doesn’t help everybody and that’s the point that needs to be made. So great for you but not for everyone. For some people opioids are the right choice. I’m so happy that you have found success with this although, it doesn’t help everybody, that’s the point that needs to be made. For some people opioids are the right choice and those people should have the right to choose that.

cindy

Some years ago, I took a Mind-Body Mindfulness workshop sponsored by a distinct dept of a major Boston teaching hospital, that was 2ce a week, I think for a month. I felt like the instructor was talking in another language. I was so frustrated and disappointed. I simply couldn’t understand anything she was saying, even when she drew on a blackboard. She’d give us exercised to do, and I’d look around and watch everyone else busy at them while I felt lost. It seemed like everyone else in the class understood what she was saying, but I simply couldn’t.

When I spoke to her privately about my problems, she told me, among other things, to imagine I was doing something I loved. So I imagined I was at a beach. But then I had a problem, that, b/c of my incredible abdominal-area pain, my vision was interrupted b/c I couldn’t lie out on the blanket; I had to be in a fetal position. When I told her that I couldn’t even imagine lying out b/c of my real life pain, she was fascinated by the strength of my vision and its connection to real life.

We were assigned partners to work with, and my partner dropped out due to the severity of her migraines. Somehow I completed the entire class.

At the last day get-together discussion/debriefing, almost everyone but me expressed gratitude and progress made due to the workshop.

The only benefit I got from it was one specific breathing and counting exercise, which has helped me, on a few occasions, deal with short-term stress, like during a catscan.

Thank you so much for your story Melissa. I’m certainly going to try your techniques. Let’s face it, it doesn’t cost anything to breathe or try to relax and be mindful. The past 4 months of my life have been consumed with caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s all by myself. I’m also fighting for custody of my niece and watching my step dad die. My day starts at 5 and sometimes isn’t over until midnight or after. It’s something different every single day from sunup till sundown. I keep saying tomorrow I’m going to rest, though tomorrow brings on a whole new set of things to do. My little girl, well my niece, she’s what keeps me going. I’ve seen her go through some pretty tough times and through it all she finds a way to smile when she feels like crying and dance when she feels like dying. I think we could all take a lesson from her as well as yourself. Hopefully everyone that reads your story can walk away with something that helps, even if it’s just a little something. Take care and thanks again for sharing with us all.