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  • Writer's pictureDr. Dianne Rosena Jones, Mpsy.D.

You Got Triggers!

A new journey began when I acknowledged and accepted my truth. My truth was that the way I chose to respond or not respond to the traumatic experience triggered my first Fibromyalgia flare. I had to begin to identify everything that “triggered” me. For me, there are four areas that I focus on when it comes to identifying triggers that may increase my level of physical pain. These four areas are: rest, stress, food, and activities.

Sleep deprivation is often used as a form of torture. So, imagine being in so much pain that you cannot sleep without being sedated. Sleep deprivation increases my pain level because my stress level increasing along with my irritability when I am tired. I am easily angered when I am tired. Therefore, a good night sleep is crucial to my well-being. I ensure my bedroom is conducive to a restful night sleep. I have invested in bedding [1500 thread count sheets, pillow top mattress pad, 6 pillows, etc.], bath accessories [spa type items], lighting [blue light], and white noise [most often Ocean Waves and/or Healing tones and frequencies] that helps me to relax. It works for me. It has been a few years since I have had to take some type of sedative to sleep [prescription or over the counter]. I do still toss and turn because I cannot sleep in one position for too long, but I am able to fall back to sleep. I have a recliner in my room for those times when I just cannot lay in the bed due to the pain.

Stress also increasing my pain levels. Therefore, I have massagers for my shoulders, back etc. to eliminate the stress I often hold in those areas. I have a few “bad ways” of eliminating stress like drinking and smoking, but it works for me. I do deep breathe exercises. I also meditate and pray. Sometimes I do some beginning yoga poses and/or stretches. A hot bubble bath helps me to relieve stress as well.

I had had to become more conscious of what I eat. This is the hardest area for me, but I am determined to keep trying until I obtain my desired goals. The first thing I did was to take note of how I feel after consuming certain foods. For me, eating too many carbohydrates for several days sends me into a full week flare. I love carbs. So, now at the first sign of increased pain, I know to stop eating carbs until my pain is manageable again. I have tried the never eat carbs again thing. It is hard on me and dangerous for those around me. Just like the “Snickers” commercial I turn into a Diva [or more accurately, a B!t@h]. Food is a struggle for me, but I am determined not to give up.

Activities are tricking because in the beginning on days I felt good I would go out and walk 11,000 steps, then end up in bed the next day. I did not know how to balance it. Many times, I have enjoyed myself over-doing only to take a week to recover. I remember when my Rheumatologist told me with Fibromyalgia and Arthritis I needed to move more, not less. I looked at her like she was crazy. However, she is right. Movement is critical. I am not referring to strenuous exercise. I am talking about making a conscious decision to move more than you did the day before. My Fitbit has helped me tremendously with this aspect of my journey.

Identify your triggers to minimize your pain, but don't stop living life to the fullest.

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