Fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) can change every aspect of your life. You may not have the energy to do laundry; you may have too much pain to walk through a grocery store or scrub a bathtub; and when brain fog is bad, you're likely to forget what it was you were supposed to be doing anyway.
An especially difficult aspect of these conditions is their unpredictability. You never know when and where severe symptoms are going to hit, or how long they'll last. Will it be while shopping? While driving? Will it be the symptoms you've grown accustomed to or something new?
But life doesn't stop because we're sick. That means we need to come up with ways to manage in spite of our symptoms. A little planning and organization can go a long way.
Below, you'll find articles aimed at helping you plan and organize several different aspects of your life. At the end of most articles, you'll see a link to reader responses with more great ideas to help you out.
If you feel overwhelmed, don't try to tackle all of these areas at once - identify the things you need most right now, work on them, and come back later to take on the next tasks.
It Starts at Home
Most of us have to keep a household running, whether it's just for ourselves or for a family. That can be a full-time job, even for a healthy person. For us, it presents a huge challenge.
We need to find ways to conserve energy and prevent pain while still accomplishing the myriad tasks in front of us. You can find some things that help here:
- Pacing Yourself
- Household Tips & Strategies
- Easing the Strain of Laundry
- Cooking Simplified
- The Holiday Survival Guide
Over-the-counter meds probably aren't going to do a heck of a lot for you, but it can pay to keep certain ones on hand, just in case.
It also pays to be prepared for your next flare, so you aren't caught off guard and, say, out of your prescription pain drugs with no way to get to the pharmacy. And that's not the only thing you need to think about.
Staying on top of your schedule is tough when your short-term memory is impaired by brain fog. It takes work to get organized so you're not missing appointments, but it is possible.
Outside the House
How heavy is your purse? Does it contain the things you could need if your symptoms suddenly spike? Is your car stocked with "just in case" items?
Shopping can be a harrowing experience for someone with FMS or ME/CFS. The brain power, the exertion, the noise, the bright lights…. Careful planning can help alleviate problems when you're at the store.
- Survive Grocery Shopping
- Holiday Shopping Tips
- Back-to-School Shopping List
- Finding Pain-Free Clothing
Life in General
You've probably come across the term "lifestyle changes," such as, "Many people find they can manage their symptoms with a combination of treatments and lifestyle changes." But what kinds of lifestyle changes are right for you? Do they involve changing jobs, or quitting your job? What if you need to apply for disability?
- 10 Lifestyle Changes to Consider
- Getting Reasonable Accommodation at Work
- Filing for Social Security Disability
It does take some work to get your life organized in this way. However, the payoff is less stress (which can improve your health), less embarrassment because you're better able to manage your symptoms, and more productivity - which in turn equates to less stress over what you can't do.
And in the end, improving our quality of life is one of the best things we can do for ourselves.