Living with Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, and Insomnia: The Reality of Fibromyalgia

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In this blog post, we delve into the reality of fibromyalgia. The impact that chronic pain, chronic fatigue and insomnia have on everyday life. This is part of my 2024 Awareness Month awareness raising campaign. Please feel free to share if it resonates for you.

the reality of living with chronic pain, chronic fatigue and insomnia: the reality of fibromyalgia

Understanding Chronic Pain

In discussing chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia, it becomes evident that the term “chronic pain” encompasses more than just ongoing pain. The nuances of widespread pain, trigger points, and the complex interplay of various contributing factors highlight the pervasive nature of living with fibromyalgia.

We need to recognize that chronic pain goes beyond a tidy term, affecting us on a continuous basis and significantly impacting our daily activities, sleep patterns, and overall quality of life.

In my 24 Truths of Living with Fibromyalgia, the top truth is that there is never a moment when my body is free from negative sensation. I always experience pain in some form. All day, every day. It impacts almost every movement, every moment. And I am much improved from what I was.

Learn about creating a responsive pain management plan here

Chronic fatigue, often underestimated by its simplistic label, proves to be a debilitating aspect of fibromyalgia. The profound exhaustion that individuals with fibromyalgia experience, physical and cognitive challenges that accompany this constant fatigue, should not be underestimated.

From the struggles of daily tasks like showering and cooking to managing exertion levels to avoid post-exertion malaise, chronic fatigue presents a multifaceted obstacle that requires careful navigation and understanding from ourselves and our support network.

In plain terms, people with chronic fatigue wake up exhausted, spend the day exhausted and go to bed exhausted. And in the face of people with fibromyalgia, struggle to go to sleep, stay asleep and sleep well. You can surely imagine how hard that is to manage every single day.

Learn about chronic fatigue syndrome here

the reality of living with chronic pain, chronic fatigue and insomnia: the reality of fibromyalgia

Unpacking Chronic Insomnia

The discussion on chronic insomnia reveals the significant impact it has on individuals with fibromyalgia. Beyond the common struggles of falling asleep or staying asleep, chronic insomnia in the context of fibromyalgia disrupts the quality of sleep, leading to persistent feelings of lethargy, cognitive difficulties, and a cycle of daytime fatigue.

We must recognise the deeper implications of chronic insomnia, urging empathy and support for those grappling with sleep disturbances as part of their fibromyalgia experience.

Of all the research I have done and everything I have experienced, I feel very strongly that sleep must be tackled early and hard.

As I mentioned above, insomnia is having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking too early or spending long periods of time awake in the night. The addition to this for fibromyalgia sleep is that the quality of sleep is often poor. Deep and REM sleep, very important stages for brain and overall health, are difficult to attain with fibromyalgia.

Imagine feeling exhausted, but knowing it will be tricky to go to sleep. Spending ages falling asleep. Only to wake again soon. And spend ages awake in pain but too tired to do anything. Then waking feeling worse than when you went to sleep. That is what I experienced prior to finding the sleep combo that helps me now.

the reality of living with chronic pain, chronic fatigue and insomnia: the reality of fibromyalgia

Then imagine that people tell you to simply stop worrying about it because you are likely causing it with your worry (you may not be making it better, but in the case of fibromyalgia believing you will sleep isn’t going to be enough). Or being told that you “just” need some sleep hygiene training (especially if you already have a meticulous sleep hygiene plan). Or doctors doing nothing when you tell them this is your biggest issue and what you would like help with. This all happened to me.

See the medication that changed my sleep game

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If you’d like the full story behind my experience and improvement with fibromyalgia, grab my book

Reality of Fibromyalgia: Conclusion

The intricate realities of living with fibromyalgia, specifically addressing the challenges posed by chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and chronic insomnia are far beyond what one initially realises and is hard to communicate well. By delving beyond the surface-level definitions of these conditions, a deeper understanding emerges of the profound and lasting impacts they have on our daily lives.

This includes the big three pillars of living with fibromyalgia. But doesn’t touch on the other symptoms. Brain fog/cognitive dysfunction, painful bladder syndrome, painful periods, irritable bowel syndrome and a myriad of interconnecting symptoms and syndromes that can occur with fibromyalgia.

Through sharing personal experiences and insights, I aim to foster awareness and empathy for those navigating the complexities of fibromyalgia. By acknowledging the multifaceted nature of chronic pain, chronic fatigue, and chronic insomnia, we can better support and uplift ourselves and others facing these challenges on a daily basis.

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