Healthy but hurting: Coping with fibromyalgia


Leah Jamison

Bones or no bones: If you keep up with Tik Tok, you’ve probably seen the 13-year-old pug named Noodle who decides what type of day it’s going to be. Much like Noodle, I never know what type of day it’s going to be for me until I wake up and see how I’m feeling.

Fibromyalgia is not an easy disease to cope with. Although you have a name for what you’re going through, your pain is unexplained. You may be able to identify triggers, but this kind of pain doesn’t come with an explanation.

I haven’t always exercised restraint when coping with my pain. I eat unhealthy food, and too much of it. I spend money on things that I don’t need or things that will temporarily relieve my pain.

Although these things feel good it the moment, they have no substantial benefit.

I know if I eat too much, then I won’t feel good later, but that is of little concern in the present. I’ll tell myself that I deserve to treat myself and will buy something that I’ll later regret. I will trade momentary pleasure for stress, pain and anxiety.

Less than a year ago I was working 40-60 hours a week, going to school full-time and trying to cope with fibromyalgia. I compensated for my pain by being constantly busy and letting other parts of my life fade to the background.

I don’t recommend working that much while going to school to anyone, but it is especially difficult with a chronic illness. I was so busy that I would never slow down to take a look at the hole I was digging myself into.

After Theodore Roosevelt lost his wife and mother on the same day in 1884, he famously said, “Black care never sits behind a rider whose pace is fast enough.”

It can be inferred that “black care” refers to depression. Roosevelt’s idea was that if you stay busy enough, then that depression can’t catch up and you can avoid the darkness.

I have been trying to outrace my own darkness for the last two or three years now, but you can never really get away. Your darkness will always catch up eventually.

Part of my predicament is that I associate my self-worth with how busy I am and how much I am accomplishing. This semester, I have finally allowed myself to slow down and take care of myself, although I am still working more or less full-time and going to school full-time.

I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to taking care of myself and balancing my work and personal life, but I am starting to allow myself to slow down and enjoy life.

This week I would like to ask my readers to comment on ways they cope with their chronic illness, whether healthy or unhealthy.

One of the best parts of my column is the community I have found. It has allowed me to meet people from across the world and connect over the shared experience of chronic pain.

The last request I would like to make this week is that you comment what you would like for me to write about in future weeks of my column. I know there is so much more for me to explore, and I would like to share whatever is most helpful to my readers.

Edited by Ellie Walker
Edited by Alyssa Storm