Feeling exhausted, enduring surprising levels of pain, accepting new limitations—these are the challenges of the newly diagnosed fibro patient. As the months or years pass, we learn to describe ourselves as “ill.” It is disheartening to resign ourselves to a life of caution and vigilance, but we get used to it.
And then, some of us discover the right combination of management techniques and realize our pain is under control.What do we do now? Something changes when you are able to make it through a bunch of invigorating days. Just as you have to retool your self-image when you get sick, you need to retool when you get well (or at least “well-er”).
Here are some dos and don’ts for integrating your new health and your new spirit.
Grieve the loss of your symptoms! When your identity has been tied to being sick, being well again challenges your self-perception. Chronic illness takes on a life of its own and becomes our companion. Take the time you need to honor and say goodbye to this “friend” so that you can fully embrace your new existence.
Change your vocabulary. Be optimistic in word as well as deed! Take a chance and declare yourself healthy! This simple action works wonders on your psyche and sets a powerful intention to interact with the world on a different level.
Try new things. Start by researching whatever new challenges are attractive to you: What kinds of risks are involved? Is there support if you can’t fulfill your intention? Then begin a “training period” in which you acclimate to your new undertaking. If everything goes smoothly, take the leap of faith and go for it!
Hang out with “naysayers.” When people are used to thinking of you as sick, their identity gets tied to that as much as yours does! Some of them may not want to see you as healthy. Naysayers can kill the passion and resolve of anyone seeking to make significant changes. You deserve loving support and nothing less will do.
Become reckless. What got you symptom-free in the first place was a bit of luck and a lot of concentrated effort to heal. Throwing all that out the window will only invite your symptoms to return. So as you return to work, go back to school, or scale Mount Everest, remember to schedule in some nap time or other self-care activities.
Burn all your bridges. Declaring yourself “well” and then promptly ignoring everyone that is part of your past life is downright foolish! Stay in touch and offer to talk to others who may be wrestling with fibro. This validates both the dark days and your current symptom-free existence.
Above all, enjoy this re-birth! You have a lot to offer the world and you’ve been given a second chance!