Disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor and I do NOT have a medical degree. I am not qualified to treat or diagnose Fibromyalgia, I am just speaking to you from my own experience. So please do not try ANY of these suggestions mentioned in this blog, until you have talked to your doctor.
There have been a few times over the past ten years where I have had a client come to me who was struggling with Depression & Chronic Pain. There was a particular client named “Jake” who came to me because he was struggling with Depression and parenting issues with his 8-year-old child.
In the middle of our treatment, it also came out that he had struggled with Chronic Pain for the last few years. I am a little embarrassed to admit this now, but while I was counseling him, even though outwardly I was trying to be compassionate, understanding, and empathetic towards his physical pain. On the inside, I was thinking to myself, “Is it really that bad? I don’t think your pain can be thaaaat bad! Maybe some of it is in your head? Just some. Like 79% is horrible pain and 21% is in your head?” Even though I had these judgmental thoughts, I also knew my thoughts were probably inaccurate. So I accepted the fact that I was a little ignorant and I tried my best to just be quiet, listen, and learn.
Fast forward several years, ohhh boy, did that ignorance come back to bite me! In the fall of 2015 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia after having over 6+ months of mysterious pain in all of my joints and moderate arthritis in my neck. The pain was so incredibly debilitating that I pretty much stopped socializing for a year and when I was at work I would just lay on the couch in between sessions until the next client came in. When the pain was at its worst, my whole body hurt just to lie down and I would be typing a two-sentence email and my elbows and wrists were throbbing in pain so much that I had tears coming down my cheeks while I was typing. My whole world came crashing down.
I had no clue how debilitating chronic pain could be and when I found out I was completely dumb-founded. Obviously, I have an entirely different perspective on chronic pain now and I have a deep admiration for people who struggle with this unforgiving silent illness.
With that being said, do I still think that sometimes people’s physical pain may be psychosomatic? Yes, I do. Do I think that some people with chronic pain may exaggerate their pain as an excuse for being lazy? Yes, I do. With all physical illnesses, there are also psychological components that go with these illnesses and these need to be addressed as well. The reality is that there are over 100 million people in the U.S alone who struggle with Chronic Pain every year and each person has their own story.
So how did I heal myself from Fibromyalgia? Well, I haven’t, I don’t believe there is a 100% cure for Fibromyalgia. Chronic pain is a mysterious illness and it can lie dormant for awhile and you think you are healed and then it peaks its ugly head out again and says “I tricked you, I’m back!” This element of the illness is the most unforgiving part of it. However, I do believe one can heal themselves from many of the symptoms of Fibromyalgia when they implement certain dietary changes, up physical activity, utilize pain management medications if needed, mitigate vitamin deficiencies, and heal unresolved emotional wounds.
For me, healing from Fibromyalgia first started by just accepting my pain and not expecting it to go away, at least right away. I think this point is very important, healing does not mean that you do not have any of the symptoms; pain, fibro fog, etc. Healing simply means that you have learned how to manage it to the best of your ability. I then read everything I could regarding Fibromyalgia Treatment, I probably read 3-4 books on Fibromyalgia off of Amazon and I also visited every fibro and chronic pain site I could find. There I so much information available to us, please utilize these resources available to you in your own healing.
So long story, short, healing from Fibromyalgia for me came down to changing 5 things in my life; my diet, mitigating my vitamin deficiencies, pain management medication as needed, putting more physical activity into my schedule, and incorporating acceptance with my physical pain.
In regards to my diet changes, 90% of the time I try to stick to a; Gluten Free, Dairy less, and Sugar Free Diet. (just refined sugar free). However, I’m not a literalist, at all. Honestly, I typically don’t like words like Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Sugar Free, I think these words can be quite “all or nothing” and often times people will not try these type of diets because they can’t stick to the “free” part of it. Even, if you can start by sticking to a gluten less diet, dairy less diet, and sugar less diet, I think you may see a lot of positive changes. If you are not interested in this type of diet, you may also want to think about incorporating a WHOLE FOODS DIET. I think if we all committed to eating just REAL & WHOLE FOODS, we would probably all feel better. I do not believe our bodies are designed to eat all of these chemicals that we are putting into our body and the effects can be disastrous.
For me, when I do try and stick to this diet, my body feels AMAZING, (I’m an optimist!) when I don’t stick to this diet, my body feels like KRAP. Now, why do I say 90%? For example with refined sugar, I can have refined sugar on all holidays and birthdays. (And YES, of course president’s day is a holiday!) Natural sugar sources including maple syrup, honey, stevia, and fruit I can have at any time. I take a multivitamin and turmeric every day as well. Turmeric is a spice from Curry and it has amazing anti-inflammation properties. Also, a caffeine supplement may be helpful for you with energy as well, especially if you are not a coffee or pop drinker.
As a general rule of thumb, while pain medications can help the symptoms, pain medications do nothing for healing the source of the pain. The source of the physical pain can be from a wide variety of sources including; malnutrition, vitamin deficiency, inflammation, pain neuron sensitivity, inactivity, and unresolved emotional pain. For optimal healing, one needs to get at the real source of the physical pain and heal the pain from the inside out. However, pain medications can definitely help temporarily and so they need to be considered as part of the whole treatment plan. I would highly recommend not getting on narcotics if its at all possible, as these medications have a whole other slue of side effects typically.
I also try to consume green tea 3+ times a week, which helps a lot with my energy. (Btw, I don’t drink green tea, I think it tastes like swamp water, so I just put it in my smoothie.) Lastly, I put in more physical activity into my schedule by taking up dance, (in my family room.) I try to dance 3+ days a week and go hiking 1-2 times a week. People have different definitions for the word hike, but for me a hike is any walk longer than 20 minutes.
Anyways, enoooooough about my story. Have you been diagnosed with Chronic pain? What has helped you heal from Fibromyalgia? I would love to hear about your story! I am always learning and unlearning, as we all are. Feel free to browse these fibromyalgia books on Amazon by clicking here. In wrapping up this post, I want to share another recipe with you. Here is another gluten free 5 ingredient recipe, this gluten free recipe is for Cheesy Broccoli Soup. Yummy, I loooove Cheesy Broccoli Soup! I hope you enjoy 🙂
Kelly Johnson, MA, LPC
“Create the kind of life right now that you will L-O-V-E.”