Facing Forward is a series that shares the lives of people living with arthritis and other invisible chronic illnesses. The goal of the series is to see how we are similar and how we are different - and to remind us to keep moving forward because we aren't alone!
Diagnoses: Fibromyalgia, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Asthma
Age at Diagnosis: 28 for the Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS. I’ve had asthma since I can remember…
How are you currently treating your condition?At the moment I’ve come off all of my prescribed medications (except for my asthma medication) because I’m pregnant. For me diet hasn’t really made much of an impact on my Fibromyalgia or ME/CFS. The treatments I find most useful are regular acupuncture treatments for the pain, pacing techniques (limiting what I do and trying to have scheduled rest breaks), meditation, and heat in the form of showers and baths. Before becoming pregnant, testosterone supplements were also helping my pain levels.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced since your diagnosis?Since the Fibromyalgia and ME/CFS, I’ve really struggled to maintain any sort of balance in my life. For the first few years I was unable to do anything I was doing before the symptoms hit. I had to stop working, stop exercising and my life seemed to rotate around medical appointments. I didn’t have the energy to do much socializing. I’ve slowly built some form of balance back into my life but working out a way to do this that lets me live a simple, sustainable, and meaningful life has definitely been a challenge!
What are your favorite tips and tricks for managing everyday tasks?
Pace yourself and share the load with those around you if you can. I decide what’s most important to me on any given day and prioritize those tasks. If I have enough energy left over after they’ve been completed (with rest in between them), then I’ll consider doing other things. I’ve found it very useful to let go of unrealistic standards I may have been setting myself and to ask for help whenever I can.
How do you manage to keep facing forward every day?I try hard to focus on the positive things that are going on. Even on my worst crash day I’ll find one little thing that I can focus on as a positive. It may be time spent cuddled up with the cats, or being able to sit outside in the sun and just soak up the warmth. These days, it can be just feeling my little girl moving inside of me and remembering that this illness hasn’t taken away all of my dreams!
I’ve also been focusing on helping others. I write on my blog when I’m able to (I’ve been less consistent lately because of everything going on) and I’ve written a children’s book to try and help explain invisible illnesses to those around me. Remembering that I can still make a difference, even if it takes me much longer than I’d like to, helps me keep facing forward every day.
If you could go back to diagnosis day and tell your past self one thing, what would it be?
Stay strong and remain focused on what you can change. Try not to worry about all the things that may or may not be part of your future.
Do you have a blog you would like to share?Yes, I blog over a liveken.com about my life with chronic illness and about living a simple, sustainable, and meaningful life.
Would you like to be featured on Facing Forward? If so, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.