Anxiety, Depression and Fibromyalgia 

Apart from fatigue anxiety is second on my worst symptom list, certain activities make it worse and I think I’ve finally figured out why, from my personal experiences.  When I am getting ready to go out, see family, go out for a meal or whatever we obviously have emotions of maybe anticipation or excitement etc and think with over fibromyalgia our over stimulated nervous system confuses these feelings and we internally confuse these feeling into feelings of anxiety.  I get panicky, breathless, heart racing and anxious.  Once you recognise this pattern it can be controlled.  Don’t let these feelings stop you from going out and living, it may feel easier just not to go out but then we are giving in to this condition.  Recognising the symptoms, learn not to fight it, but use relaxation techniques and deep breathing helps. 

What I have also noticed is that the sensory over load from loud music and busy places can also cause anxiety.  I had to run out of a friends house the other week as the music was too loud.  

I tend to use ear plugs now that are especially made for noise reduction.  You can still hear conversations but it cuts out the bass and loudness. 


Depression is a part of fibromyalgia caused by the loss of your previous pre-fibromyalgia life, loss of friends, suffering constant pain, stiffness, anxiety, itching, skin sensitivity, food and chemical sensitivity.  I stopped taking anti depressants last year and thought I was coping well but it hit me like a train.  I asked the doctor to go back on them but at a reduced dosage of 20mg instead of 30mg.  I feel so much happier.  It’s well researched that a low dose of anti depressants increases serotonin and can reduce pain.  Why do you think doctors prescribe Amitrypyline for pain relief at night.  I don’t use this medication as the side effects were not worth the positives of taking the medicine.  Read here for more info 


All medication cause side effects as they are designed to change how we think and feel so always weight up the positives against the negatives and make your own decisions. DO NOT TAKE MEDICATIONS JUST BECAUSE THEY ARE RECOMMENDED.  Not all doctors understand Fibromyalgia they are General Practitioners not fibro experts.  I gave up several medications last year and I can categorically state my symptoms have reduced.  It’s a personal choice so make sure you do your research and always give meds a minimum of 2 months to get the full effect. 

Citalopram and Fibromyalgia study here. 

Working with fibromyalgia

I had a particularly rough day yesterday.  I felt really negative and I seemed to slip into a dark hole.  I wasn’t expecting it but I knew something was happening which is why I opted to work from home.  It wasn’t just exhaustion!

Like an idiot I worked from my bed, it was not comfortable for long.  I woke up this morning feeling like I’d been hit around the top half of my body with a baseball bat!!  Next time I will sit at a desk and take more rests.

I had a very depressive day, I couldn’t bring myself to meditate and didn’t want to talk to anyone at all. I even went to sleep at 8.10PM on my own as my daughter was at her dads.  I did manage 6 hours sleep in the 10 hours I was in bed. Yay.

It isn’t healthy shutting ourselves away or sitting hunched up in bed all day, we must keep mobile or the stiffness sets in and boy did I feel it today.

Working with this condition is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.  The exhaustion, stiffness, aches and pains (my fusion still hurts), mental grogginess, anxiety and depression is tough.  Giving up my dream job was hard, I was do good at it, but once this condition started to get worse I couldn’t do what was expected of me.

Do you all still work?  What changes did you make to your working conditions?

Did you have to quit your job?

I won’t give up until I cannot get out of bed and I will not allow that to happen. 

So, what did I do st work to improve my symptoms:-

  • I was honest about my condition
  • I work from home when I need to
  • I book annual leave when I need a rest, I’ve learned from mindfulness and keeping diaries for pacing when I’m about to have a Fibro attack
  • I am strict about working hours
  • I will not skip lunch
  • I drink a minimum of 3 litres of water a day
  • I eat breakfast and lunch and I ensure I make my food as organic as possibly
  • Don’t eat takeaways or food on the go from the canteen unless organic
  • I do not drink any flavoured sweetened drinks
  • I only drink one coffee a day
  • I keep an action log
  • I block out activities I need to do in my diary
  • I have a hydraulic desk and specialist spinal chair
  • I gave a lightweight laptop and a tablet for travelling
  • I will not have meetings later than 3pm
  • I try not to undertake back to back meetings I try to leave a 15 minute gap between meetings
  • I have refused to travel to a meeting in London and insist on conference facilities until I feel stronger
  • I registered for a disabled parking space
  • I listen to a 10 minute mindfulness recording each lunch time
  • I fetch a drink or go for a walk each hour to stretch my legs

Read some more useful tips here 

Fibromyalgia and women

I read a great fact based article today about this condition and why it’s predominantly women who get diagnosed.  I absolutely do agree with the hormone link and why it’s again predominantly around middle age, but there are a few exceptions as there is with most conditions, ones that fall outside the ‘norm’.  Read more here

I know why I developed it, I have spinal disabilities and had major surgery on my spine to correct the twisting and collapsing of my spine.  My dad also has ankylosing spondylitis, another link to why I developed this, it’s in my genes.  I am certain if we all reflect on our family history and health we can work out why us?

This condition does not have a cure, it’s a chronic condition.  It will not kill us but it DOES have a serious detrimental effect on our quality of life.  We CAN however takes steps to improve our quality of life; keep diaries of our condition, what we eat and drink, sleep journals, activities we do, how we feel mentally and physically.  From this we can work out what is toxic and needs to be removed or reduced in our lives in order to improve our symptoms.  This IS going to be a challenge, if it was easy none of us would be suffering!

I will not give up this challenge, why? Because this is my life and I will live a good quality of life.  The best that I can.

Are you with me? Or are you prepared to give up?  Trust me I have been to hell, I’ve suffered so much pain, given up so much of my old life, landed in the gutter so many times.  

I WILL NOT GIVE UP, NOT UNTIL I AM OLD AND DEAD.  BECAUSE IF I HIVE UP I MIGHT AS WELL BE DEAD.

#fibrogoals 

Pain pain pain 

I am not going to lie, the pain is at an all time high as it feels like I’ve got the early stages of flu.  I felt rough this morning, had 2 cocodamol felt slightly better, went to the bike shop to get our new bikes and had another coffee, one more than my usual, felt great, Christ I felt high.  Then I crashed big time, I felt dreadful, exhausted and in pain.

I decided to go for a little trundle out on my new bike to learn how to use gears, I’d passed my CBT on an automatic bike.  Now the way Fibro works is every little amount of ‘stress’ which normally I’d just deal with, my head and body go into full on ‘fight’ mode, I either hold my breath or take fast small breaths, the pain starts and I feel exhausted.  I managed to deep breathe and kept it under control.


After an hour I went home exhausted and in great pain, like having the flu, especially in my lower back around where I have had it fused.  I went to bed, listened to 2 mindfulness meditation sessions, ate a chicken snack, used a hot water bottle and after an hour of being in agony I took 2 cocodamol, begrudgingly, as I do not want to rely on pain pills.

I’m sat in bed still, hoping I feel better so I can go round the block on my new bike to get used to it.  Then I have all night and day to relax!!  Wish me luck.

Do you have tips and techniques you use to get you through the early stages of a bad Fibro attack?

Patience with our ‘wild minds’

I have been reading chapter 4 of my Mindfulness for Health book by Vidyamala Burch (read the reviews here)  about how our mind wanders whilst we try to meditate and why it does the same when we are in pain.  If we try to force the mind to be still it will kick and resist and we get exhausted by the struggle, if however we let it roam and follow it with our awareness, it will settle down of it’s own accord.  Our minds struggle as we oppose it, if we are patient and focus our awareness in the minds struggle, then it will become calm.  We can then refocus on the breath or body and the mind starts to get curious about the object of you refutation.  It will become gently calm, yet alert and vibrant.


The other reason why our minds refuse to settle, especially if our bodies are in pain or highly stressed while we meditate.  It is natural for the mind to avoid unpleasant sensations in the body.  It will want to distract especially after chronic pain sufferers are told ‘keep yourself busy, and distract yourselves’ only to stop and be in agony!!  We try to avert the pain.  Pay attention to your thoughts, see how it bounces around and drags up past troubling memories and then exploits them in the future, creating stress and anxiety.  Just notice them and give these thoughts and feelings names, but not judging them and then coax your mind back to the breath or your body and continue meditating. 


Think of your thoughts as passing clouds in a beautiful blue sky.  You notice them and let them go and the blue sky is always there. 

Medication and Fibromyalgia

I promised you all a list of the medications I have tried to help with with my Fibromyalgia symptoms, bearing in mind it took 2 1/2 years to get diagnosed, what I will also give you is MY opinion of the negatives vs positives of these and side effects, remembering we all have similar symptoms but we are all different and no two people are exactly the same. So please respect my run down as this is personal to me.  

I do believe Fibro can be controlled but my degenerative disease and Spondylothesis cannot, with that said I do believe I can slow down the spinal degeneration, after all it’s my body and it reacts to my mind.

Here goes, please bear in mind in other countries some of these drug names are different so please look them up on google 😘:-

Co-Codamol – good short term medication for pain, gives feeling of well being when first started and created intense constipation and sleepiness.  Physically addictive and must be weaned off as make you feel like you have flu.  Made me grind my teeth.  

Tramadol – best painkiller I have ever used, make you feel absolutely out of your head when you first use and driving or working was impossible.  Worked very well but became immune to effects after long term use.  Weaned off too quick first time and felt like I was dying, hallucinated and felt suicidal.  2nd time I weaned off them I did so very slowly over 2 months and coped much better.  I now take 1 occasionally and hope to never use long term again as physically very very addictive.  Caused dry mouth, confusion, daydreaming, constipation and intense itching to start with.

Lyrica – not a bad medication but gave me  bad brain fog and concentration issues. Did not work as well as Tramadol.  Asked to come off them as affected my work.

Gabapentin – worst medication I have ever took in my life and I would never take again.  Pre operation they were quite effective but after developing Fibromyalgia they were awful. I felt suicidal, brain fog was so intense I could not even remember my own date of birth, struggled to hold a conversation and as doses were increased was severely depressed and was scared to be left alone.  I wouldn’t give this to a Fibro sufferer as there are much better treatments out there.  I didn’t realise how bad they affected me until I stopped.  Yes nerve pain has increased but at least my mental health and memory are very good again.

Amitryptyline – a very good tablet to help with insomnia.  But again I am physically addicted to them so having to take 2 months to come off them.

Oramorph – brilliant short term painkiller for extreme pain; PMT and migraines.  Not to be used regularly.  

Citalopram – a fantastic anti depressant, this tablet not only helped me cope with recovering from major surgery but helped with pain relief as it lifted the black cloud that hung over me.  But very physically addictive, still weaning off these and it’s been 4 weeks now and I’m down from 20mg to 7.5, down to 5mg this weekend.  Again cause dry mouth, brain zaps when you move your eyes, lucid dreams and increase anxiety for the first 2/3 weeks.

Duloxetene – cane off this as the lucid dreams got do bad I could not sleep.  Now I don’t think this is a bad medicine at all but again you have to be weaned off with your doctors supervision so quite frankly I don’t want to take this and let it affect my already fragile nervous system and brain!

Diazepam – great for muscle spasms and panic attacks, not effective for long term use.  You can be affected when stopping and weaning must be done slowly.

Zopiclone – brilliant sleeping tablet but probably the lost addictive on the list as long term use will stop you from sleeping normally when you stop worse than any other sleeping tablet I’ve tried.  I still use these and take 1 a week, for example if I sleep for 1, 3, 3, and say 2 hours on 4 nights I become exhausted and risk an accident on the road or sick leave at work. Bi take a zopi and can get 5-6 1/2 hours sleep in one night.

Laxido – to combat Tramadol and co codamol constipation.  One sachet a day works very gentle and is a life saver, but any laxative no matter how mild is not good for long term use.

If I think of any more I will share.  All these tablets mask symptoms we suffer withFibromyalgia and  what I want to do is treat the symptoms and reduce their affects on my quality of life not just mask them with more pills.  ALL these pills have side effects and have created other issues. All these pills affect our nervous systems and that is why I am completely coming off them.  I will keep you posted as to how I get on 👌

Please read this link for more information on any of these pills and for my USA followers you will see the other brand names. 

Headspace is a fantastic app

I have been using this app now for 18 days, please see the site here. It is a fantastic app and I would highly recommend it to everyone, regardless of your health.  I am a big daydreamer and unfortunately due to the nature of my health I tend to twist my daydreaming round to negative thoughts.  Or I daydream off to try to resist pain.  Headspace uses mindfulness meditation to not distract from or resist our pain but completely the opposite.


The company formed by the 2 gentlemen above, more info click here is used you top athletes and Wall Street stars.  Mindfulness meditation is nothing new but it’s only been recent times that more people are realising that the mind is more powerful than the body, after all your mind controls your body, good and bad times.  Your brain controls how we feel pain, which comes from signals from the nervous system.  Fir be if I look after my mind I’m looking after my body. 

I qualified as a hypnotherapist and NLP practitioner about 3 years ago now, read about NLP here so I was well aware of how powerful the kind could be.  I helped people stop smoking and even lose 3/4 stone in weight, amongst many more bad habits.  But when I got ill with my back I stepped away.

Never again will I neglect my mental health, because if I get that right the physical health will fall into place.  

Can Fibromyalgia be cured with the mind?  Who knows!!  But I believe it can be controlled by it and more importantly I can live with Fibro quite comfortably.  No I am not quite there yet but when I do get there I will help you too