Days Like This… and a plan for when you are having one.
This picture of me was taken just a few minutes ago as an illustration of ‘days like these.’ Note the strap to my nightgown. Yep, almost noon and still in bed clothes. The puffy eyes, the unmade face, the loosely pulled back and unstyled hair. Not my finest moment, certainly not a great photo, but these represent the honesty of the words I’m going to share with y’all. When you have Fibromyalgia, any chronic disease, or are just basically you know, living, there will be days like this. Days when you don’t necessarily feel ‘bad’ and nothing really ‘hurts’ but something is just ‘not right.’
When you have Fibromyalgia, any chronic disease, or are just basically you know, living, there will be days like this. Days when you don’t necessarily feel ‘bad’ and nothing really ‘hurts’ but something is just ‘not right.’
Today is a day like that for me. Every piece of news I see or read ticks me off. People can be so mean, or stupid, or; no it boils down to one of those I think. The kittens and puppy that currently reside with us are so hyper and annoying this morning I have locked them out of the office and am holding all potty and coffee breaks as long as possible to avoid these lovable little poop machines. The computer has been even slower than normal. You know days like that because whether you have ever admitted it, you’ve had one. A minute ago while I was near screaming at my computer, it occurred to me that the common denominator in all of the things that had bothered me this morning, literally since I woke up, was me or rather my reaction to this stuff.
On any given day the news is pretty much the same; people are mean, people act stupid, and I usually pray for them rather than want to smack them. My reaction, perspective, and attitude were different this morning. The kittens and puppy are always playful, hyper, and are little furball poop machines, but most days they are endearing and sometimes even cute. My attitude was not my usual one this morning. And the computer, Nah, it always makes me want to scream.
So, when I took a breath and realized that I was what was different this morning I knew I had to reset and as much as I would rather just go back to bed, that likely wouldn’t change anything. Some days are just like that and we can have to decide to choose how we will think, feel, and respond. Of course, we could just let circumstances lead us around all day, but the likely end is feeling worse and making everyone we encounter miserable along with us.
I’m making a conscience effort to learn all I can from these irritations today. Primarily, my reactions to things and why I feel that way about them.
I knew when I woke up that this would be a slower paced day for me. When you have a chronic pain condition, this is to be expected and overcome, not always succumbed to. I know from experience that on days like this I need a plan; without one I will flounder, get stuck in a moment or follow too many rabbit trails. Without a plan at the end of the day, I will only have succeeded in creating guilt for the way I handled everything or regrets for the things I could have done but didn’t do.
When the mental, physical, or emotional fatigue is too much, it helps to have a plan. Because I work from home this is easier in some ways, and harder in others. I get to make my schedule so I can add in moments of rest and put things off that aren’t urgent. Making my own schedule though means that I have to choose which things are the most and that can lead to guilt over all of the things I decide to say no to.
Here is a basic plan of action for days like this. It can be modified to meet your needs, but it gives you a place to start because, on days like these, starting is sometimes the hardest part.
- When you wake up, get up. Even if getting up is a series of false starts because you have to move frozen joints, wake up appendages, or get your bearings, do it; get out of bed and make that bed, so you have an item in the ‘done’ column.
- When you get up, take a minute to think of all of the things you for which you are grateful. I know, some days it is hard to do. No, for all you non-fibro folks out there I don’t mean hard to think of something you’re grateful for, I mean actually hard to think thoughts that are clear. On days like that, whether it is brain fog or just apathy, just look around. Did sleep safely, in bed or other piece of furniture? No matter how crappy a resting place you may feel it is when you are grumpy, most people don’t have that luxury. Were you able to go to the bathroom when you got up? Inside? Oh, well there is number two on your list because indoor plumbing and clean running water are two major blessings. You get the picture, right? So, acknowledge the things you are grateful for; if possible write them down because on ‘days like these’ we need reminders. If you are a believer, then pray with thanks at this point. Prayer is a part of my plan that centers me and gives me peace. Regular prayer and fellowship with God minimize these ‘days like this’ too.
- When you’ve been grateful you might just notice that you feel a little better; hopefully, this is so, if not, make yourself move around a bit. I’m not advocating exercising necessarily, (even though regular moderate exercise helps Fibromyalgia symptoms) but some movement. Dance, sway or be silly to one song every hour or two. If you just can’t work up the energy for a dance or even a sway, these old standbys are helpful; stretching, toe touches, neck rolls, walking around your outdoors, on a treadmill, or in your house, even a little bit will be better for you than nothing at all.
- Make healthy food choices, especially on ‘days like these.’ Eating healthy can make such a difference in your life and health, but on days like this it is important to make sure you get enough nutrients (from real food, not just supplements), but that you don’t over eat. I only recently found out that digestion can use like 50% of your body’s energy. When low vitality is already an issue, it is best to choose light, healthy meals or snacks and forego the delicious but and often unhealthy comfort foods such as ice cream, chips and pretzels, cakes and desserts, and potatoes and pasta. It isn’t that these foods are necessarily bad for everyone in moderation, but they do require more digestive energy and lead to blood sugar spikes and falls which make your body, mind, and spirit feel worse after the initial food high wears off.
- Do something productive; this is important. When we can look back on our day and see that we have accomplished something, made a difference to another person, or achieved a goal we just feel better about life in general. So make your list of ‘things to do’; it will give you something to work towards. HINT: I sometimes write things down AFTER I have done them so that my ‘done’ list will show some achievements. It doesn’t matter whether I had to feed the animals anyway, the point is, I completed a task, finished something, and on ‘days like these’, that is important to see. Also, when you are tired at the end of the day, especially a fibro day, you can’t always remember what you accomplished, and that can be so frustrating.
So, there you have it, my strategy for ‘days like these’. It is simple, but therein lies the beauty. A simple plan is more likely to be utilized with favorable results.
Please note that I didn’t include things like ‘get dressed, put on your makeup, fix your hair’ because there are some days that clothes touching your body or a brush running through your hair just hurt. If you will be staying in and these things aren’t important to you, leave them off for the day. Basic hygiene is important; the rest is just fashion. Also please note that I didn’t say things like ‘put on a happy face’ or ‘just get over it and get on with your day’ or any of the other well meaning advice we all get, and dare I say, give at times. On days like these platitudes and cliches just make you want to scream more, or cry, or worse, give up. Don’t give up. The good thing is that days like this don’t have to last forever. Remember that you have had them in the past and have survived and you will get through this one too.
Now I have to say here that if you have several of these days in a row, especially if you have a chronic illness, please check with your healthcare professional. Depression in any form is not something to be ashamed of or overlooked, it is a symptom that is treatable. hen related to a chronic medical condition untreated depression is harmful in other ways and there is no reason to suffer alone or any longer than you have to.
If you don’t have a support system for ‘days like these’ there are thousands of groups online and probably many in your community where you can reach out to others who not only know what you are going through, but are willing to share their stories. You don’t have to be in this alone.
So, I’m about to get dressed and put on makeup and do the errands and such that need doing. The aches and owies are creeping in, and I know that if I don’t get stuff done now, it will not get done and the water bill just won’t wait no matter how I feel. But “talking it over” with you, in this post, has been helpful and given me a better perspective. There is a funny thing about encouragement; when you are giving it away, it usually comes right back.
I would be encouraged by your comments, and so happy to have you share your story.