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. 

Emotions Impact Pain

I never understood the impact of emotions on pain until I studied for my hypnotherapy diploma back in 2013 and then took a pain management diploma last year.  I also didn’t realise how changeable pain is, it isn’t constant and it is controlled by our brain.

When people have a bad accident the emotional state of the patient is critical to recovery which is why medics often give high doses of medicines such as ketamine to relax the patient so that they don’t really know what is happening, reducing the chances of going into shock.

When I went for spinal surgery I was quite emotional knowing it was a 5 hour procedure with a high risk of paralysis or nerve damage, I was shaky and trying to be brave but my consultant and surgical team understood how I was feeling.  They gave me IV Ketamine as they were setting up my heart monitors and getting the operating table ready as I had to lay face down for my operation, I did not care what they were doing to me I laughed hysterically as the drug took effect then fell unconscious, meaning I was not stressed at all whilst they were putting me to sleep.

After surgery I began to notice that the more I fought (in my mind) not actually fighting anyone 😂with the pain that came with developing fibromyalgia and recovering from surgery, the worse it got.

Fibromyalgia increases nervous system sensitivity as well as other other important roles it controls the messages that travel to and from our brain for pain management.  Have you noticed that when you’re sad, upset or in another ‘negative’ mood that pain feels worse, but if someone makes you laugh or you spot something that makes you smile inside the pain reduces, even if it’s a brief respite?  Have you noticed that when you wake up happy and the sun is shining that you wake up feeling less stiff and in less pain?  You might be saying to yourself ‘no’ but you do I assure you, it might not be for long but you will. 

I want you to try something for me, the next time you are feeling happy, are laughing, maybe you’re outside with your family having fun, just stop and do a mental scan of your body and compare it to when you have been in a ‘negative’ mood and I promise you your symptoms will feel much better, reduced, maybe give even forgotten about them!!

This does not mean it’s all in your head, pain is controlled through a complex system involving our nervous system which travels up to our brain through our spinal cord and how the pain is felt depends on the individual, emotions, past memories etc.  Some people can handle lots of pain.  Before my operation my twisting spine was very painful but I still went to work and the gym for 18 months and I had to have my painkillers increased to 20-25 a day until I begged the doctor to do something as none of them worked anymore and fentanyl was looking like the next option and no way was I quitting my job!! But now one little episode of pulling my back, a headache, banging my arm or whatever can quickly become so intense I can end up paralysed in pain or hysterical.

I had a very stressful weekend once dealing with some inappropriate behaviour of some I knew last year and the stress brought on a panic attack, something I’ve not had since I was 17.  I developed a migraine that was so painful I could not see, had to sit in the dark, my heart rate and blood pressure were off the chart.  No medication helped and the ambulance service rushed me to hospital for a potential brain scan.  I was horrified and embarrassed when we realised it was nothing more than a migraine.  Only the 3rd time I’ve ever had one and they had never been that painful, welcome to fibro.

Painkillers are a band aid for pain. Some are very effective but the brain gets used to them and more or stronger versions are needed, not a viable long term strategy for chronic pain.  My painful twisting spine was resolved with surgery but Fibromyalgia is in a league of its own as there is NO cure and not a pill that will keep the symptoms successfully under control long term.  

The nervous system is complex, feel free to read more about how it works here. I not only talk from being a qualified hypnotherapist and pain management therapist but someone who has Fibromyalgia.  I believe the messages/chemicals that are supposed to travel back from our brain to our nerves during pain do not work properly and no operation or pill is going to cure such a complex system.  Even if they did invent something to help at what cost would this be to our health.  All medications give side effects as they change our mind and bodies state.


I know some of you are desperate for a cure and hate having this condition and let me be honest I’d give a limb if I thought I could get rid of it but I can’t.  So I do the next best thing and accept it is part of me, fibro will never go away and me and my fibro (I’m thinking of giving it a pet name) have to coexist and get on.  Like you might have to with a naughty sibling or a demanding irritating boss at work.

Learn from your experiences; the most powerful skill you can learn is how to control pain, how to reduce the length of time a flare up lasts and how you react to both of these! 

My flare ups are rare and they don’t last longer than the same day they occur as I use my mind to help me get through it.  I can’t stop all flare ups as I want to live, I want to work, I want to go out with my family and I want to have holidays, but I can change how I feel about them.

My top tips for dealing with pain:-

  • Remember it will pass, pain changes and is not constant, it is like a volume control on a radio and you can change it in any direction you want.
  • Stay positive, if you are struggling then have a good cry and then do something to make you laugh.
  • Exercise helps and reduces pain long term whilst releasing endorphins like a natural anti depressant.
  • Stay away from fibromyalgia support pages that focus on negativity as this will NOT help you at all.  
  • Try yoga, not once but every day for just 5-10 minutes.  Have you ever met a miserable unhappy yoga teacher?  No of course not.  It’s relaxing and gives you focus and mental clarity.
  • Only temporarily increase painkillers then cut back asap.  Remember these are not the solution, they are a band aid.
  • Listen to music, meditate, undertake self hypnosis to lift your mood, clear your head, take you to your happy place 😊
  • This last one might sound crazy but I actually use my headspace app and focus my breathing through the area that hurts and it changes the pain.

One last thing do not sit and stew about the pain as this will feel increase the pain.  Talk to someone and if you haven’t got anyone you are more than welcome to talk to me 😁

Fibromyalgia in women and the menstruation cycle

I promised you all on my Facebook page to write an honest account of how fibromyalgia can interfere with our natural menstruation cycle.  So for all you men reading this it is not for you 😂

Before I was formally diagnosed with fibromyalgia but after I had my major back surgery I noticed some differences to how I felt physically and mentally during the run up to my menstrual cycle:-

  • Over emotional (even worse than normal)
  • Increased depression where I would cry for days so much my eyes would swell up
  • Increase in lower back ache and stomach cramps to the point I’d be doubled over, have to go to bed, use a hot water bottle and take morphine pills.  Work or any activities would be out of the question, thankfully this only last 48 hours
  • Irritable bowel for 2-3 days prior
  • Increase in headaches
  • Heavier periods
  • Insomnia for 1-2 nights where I get absolutely no sleep at all
  • High end fever 🤒 

All of these symptoms were troublesome and one month I was in excruciating pain and was sent straight to hospital with a suspected appendicitis I ended up in A&E for 6 nights. I was waiting for an internal ultrasound and cat scan, it must have cost more to keep me in the bed and fed than to just get the tests done!!

The result was a small cyst which the NHS refused to move as they said it was too small, my pleading was ignored as I explained even a tiny cyst in Fibromyalgia can cause immense pain.  I was sent home with about 4 different meds for pain relief and laxatives!! Brilliant 😂😂

Anyway I ended up going private and having endometriosis confirmed by having a laparoscopy, this was removed along with the cyst and I went on the cerelle pill for 6 months even though my husband had the snip.  It worked my monthly cycle has now reduced to how it was before I developed fibromyalgia!!

The moral of the story is that yes our menstruation symptoms cab increase through Fibromyalgia and we have to find ways of dealing with these BUT if the symptoms are so severe they impact on your quality of life then please please see your doctor and get checked out for problems in your reproductive area.  My endometriosis was stuck in my bowel and I lost 10lbs in weight and could not work, I went back to normal once I’d had my operation.

The great thing about having Fibromyalgia I believe is that it alerts you to ‘other’ problems at an early enough stage as pain is dramatically increased and you know your body better than anyone.  There is no Shane in insisting your medical professionals undertake further tests and get it dealt with quickly, you have to be pushy with doctors and tell them if there’s some underlying problem then they have a duty of care to help you no matter how small the problem.  Fibro is very painful and any other medical condition on top of this hurts like hell due to our oversensituve nervous system. 

What do I do during my menstruation cycle to help me cope?:

  • Cry as it’s a great relief, then I get on with things
  • Increase meditation in relation to happiness and for pain relief
  • I keep my bedroom cooler than normal
  • I sleep in the spare room
  • I do more exercise but shorter bursts
  • Go for more walks
  • Have a massage
  • Increase my pain meds
  • Hug a hot water bottle for the cramps
  • Remain positive knowing it will pass

Feel free to respond to this with your comments 

Useful site internet here

Poor diet leads to increased Fibromyalgia symptoms

Don’t take my word for it, google it.  Even people without Fibromyalgia are affected by what they eat and drink so it’s only natural for us fellow fibromyalgia to feel the most severe symptoms:

  • Bloating
  • Headache
  • Stomach upsets
  • Increased/decreased digestion
  • Latheragy
  • Energy spikes, manis followed by depression
  • Insomnia
  • Brain fog
  • Weight increase
  • Itching

And the list can go on and on.

When you think back to our grandparents era there wasn’t the processed food we come to rely on now.  Everything was cooked fresh and most of the veg was homegrown.  Nowadays as our lives get more fast paced we rely more on ready made food, that takes no more effort than warming up in a device or ordering from a fast food joint.

Not only have I researched this subject to death at sites like this but I’ve also kept a food diary for 6 months and logged how I felt directly after eating and 20 minutes later and I was shocked when I reflected on the results each week.   Many foods were making me ill, feel worse and feel most of the symptoms above!!

It’s no secret that eating more natural food is much better for you and eating less sugar and salt will help you not only sustain good health but to feel better too. 

I like to focus on what I can eat rather than what I can’t.  Focus on the positives.  I’m not here to preach how you should live your life but if you want to change how you feel then you need to do something different!!

Take a look at this site here and do your own research.

Why do I rave about a good diet?  As the difference I feel since changing my diet is fantastic and I will never revert back to what I did eat before.

Start cooking fresh, over cook and freeze your own fresh TV dinners!!  Buy a hotspot and throw all your ingredients in and let the hot pot do the cooking.  Get your kids involved or your husband if you’re exhausted.  Cut down on takeaways to once a month.  Quit drinking alcohol or at least reduce your intake.  Look for sugar alternatives.  Bake yourself using healthier products like almond flour and honey etc.

You have a wealth of knowledge on the internet so why not use it?

Pain flare ups with fibromyalgia

I find there are a few reasons our bodies hurt, for me I’ve put them in to 3 categories:-

  • Psychological; for instance when I get stressed or I am under pressure, say from work, my brain then relays this into physical pain into my weak spots – my spine.
  • Not using pacing; doing too many activities and not resting enough, again my brain warns me by creating physical pain, mostly into my weak spots, my spine or all over aches and pains in my muscles or skin pain by touch, allodynia.
  • An injury, say from twisting my body or falling over.  I find that with fibro I hurt a lot by just simple acts I performed before I had fibro which might never have caused any lasting pain.

It’s important to understand which of these we feel during a flare up.  For example when I developed fibromyalgia and I didn’t know I had it and I was sure I had another serious problem with my back.  The pain was actually my heightened sensitivity to pain and the fact I was trying to undertake lots of activities such as before I had back surgery.  But when I learnt I had developed fibro I realised that my back did not need further investigation and that I had to learn to pace myself and I understood that my brain was increasing the pain signals through my nervous system instead of in a non fibro sufferer reducing the pain signals.  

An example would be falling and hurting your ankle with a sprain that Fibromyalgia could increase the pain and symptoms such as touch and to feel more like a break.  It took my sprained ankle 2 years to heal instead of a normal 3-9 months, even for a bad sprain!

Plus when you understand how pacing works, you can begin to understand your limits and reduce activities to a level that flare ups are rare and manageable.  Keeping logs and diaries are a great way to help you learn about your condition, body and reduce the boom or bust scenarios.  Please read here for more information. 


The above shows you how boom or bust works and learning to pace activities will help to reduce or even eliminate these.

Now I’m not an expert, I came home yesterday in tears as I pushed myself too hard this week at work.  I called my new manager and asked to come and see me this week as I needed to talk through my new role, his and my expectations and make it clear I will not risk my health for work.  He agreed and seemed generally caring, which is a start.

I have tried to deal with fibromyalgia by popping pain pills but this treatment does not work.  Eventually our brains get used to them and then you have to keep moving onto stronger medications.  I weaned off 5 tablets and now find that I deal with fibro much better by just taking them during flare ups, as they seem to actually work and the rest of the time I use a holistic approach, I’ll give you a brief run down of done of the things I use:-

  • Regular massage
  • Magnesium flakes in my bath
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Pacing, spreading out activities with regular rest
  • I use a hydraulic desk and spinal chair at work so I can work standing and sitting
  • Heat, I have hot water bottles everywhere
  • I take a varied amount of natural minerals and vitamins
  • I use positive affirmations all the time, by saying out loud positive things such as I love mornings, I am going to have a great day today
  • I use essential oils in a device click here

I am not sure where you are on your journey with fibromyalgia, but if you understand why you get flare ups and increased pain you can learn to reduce or remove these episodes. 

Don’t be a people pleaser at the expense of your health

This was some great advice I had from my acting manager and colleague at work.

I had a little cry at work as I had stopped taking the ‘pill’ that I went on to help my endometriosis and like any Fibromyalgia sufferer, anything I put into my body has much more dramatic side effects.  I did not realise how much this tiny little pill had affected me until I agreed to stop taking it as my abdominal pain had reduced and I was suffering some side effects from its use.

I felt dreadful and very over emotional.  You see it’s not just the physical symptoms that are tough to deal with but the effects this condition has on our mental health in my opinion is much more detrimental.

My colleague commented on how I spent much of my day rushing around, spending time in back to back meetings with little breathing room and I had in fact either skipped meals (very rare) or had them at my desk and no break away from my work, this was on a more regular basis.  She pointed out that no one will thank me for working myself into being ill and it’s not something to put on my gravestone that I was a hard worker and that it is just a means to pay the mortgage, clearly a fibro flare was happening on a much regular basis. She was right, I knew it myself but I guess I needed to hear it from someone else. 

It is very difficult trying to strike a balance between working in a competitive environment and striving to do a ‘good’ job where you are expected to be seen as a rising star and also saying ‘no’ so as not to affect your health.  At work we are continually expected to do over and above our roles in order just to achieve a ‘good’ rating in our yearly review but this does often mean having to say ‘no’ to other things we may be expected to do.  My diary is always very full and leaves little room to do anything else, to take on extra work on top of my day job and keep my hours to within a manageable level is a daily challenge and one I quite frankly am exhausted from.

I would recommend having regular 121s with your manager and explaining a few things to set and agree expectations.  From April I will have a new manager and the first session I will be setting up with him is to talk over me, my health and agree expectations and set up much more regular 121s than the 3 a year the business requires.  So here are my tips:-

  • Explain what Fibromyalgia is, don’t drown your manager with symptoms but split the main areas into physical symptoms and psychological symptoms.  Here are my main ones below that affect me in and out of work
  1. Insomnia, fatigue caused from sleeping an average of 4 hours sleep, 6 for when I take a sleeping tablet once every 4/5 days.
  2. Muscle stiffness and pain in my back, hips, neck and shoulders, worse in a morning.
  3. Increased pain sensitivity and painful trigger points.
  4. Nerve pain all over my body including extreme sensitivities to food, light, sound and heat causing numbness, burning, pins and needles and dizziness.
  5. Cognitive problems such as short and long term memory loss, concentration issues brain fog, inability to multi-task 
  6. Anxiety, depression, confidence issues and increase in the ‘fight’ response due to nervous system responses to stimulus.
  7. IBS and digestive issues.
  • Explain what you are doing at work and at home to alleviate your symptoms, mine being:-
  1. Medication
  2. Non medicinal treatments such as massage, uv glasses, yoga and meditation 
  3. Hired a cleaner and learnt to pace my activities in and out of work.  Severely reduced activities outside of work to save my energy to be able to attend work.
  4. Plan in extra breaks at work, hydraulic desk and lighter tablet for travelling.  Moved to a local role with less travel and a less stressful environment.  
  5. Flex hours and work from home where necessary. Book leave if notice a fibro flare is starting.
  6. Do not be afraid to ask for help or say ‘no’, always put pacing and health management first no matter what.
  7. Work slower, keep notes. Don’t be afraid to ask people to clarify points and work expectations.
  • Agree expectations between you both.  What does your manager expect, need and want from you.  What does ‘good’ look like?  What do you expect, need and want from your line manager.
  • Very important is to agree the ‘reasonable adjustments’ that you need to enable you to remain healthy and achieve your goals.  For example if you struggle with travel, can the meeting be undertaken by video/phone conference.  Is there specialist equipment you need? If you struggle with your cognitive behaviour then you might want to refrain from group presentations or being singled out when being asked questions in a public forum.

I hope you have found the above useful and if you have any questions/concerns then please do ask.

How can you fix insomnia?

Ha if I knew that I’d be a millionaire!! Now here’s the thing; Fibromyalgia causes insomnia and insomnia is one of many drivers in increasing fibromyalgia symptoms. I once read an article about some controlled tests that were performed on ‘healthy’ volunteers; they were kept awake or continuously awoken over several days and then tested how they felt mentally and physically whilst also performing cognitive tests, all of the volunteers showed symptoms of fibromyalgia, even down to increased levels of pain. 
I go through periods of insomnia and I track my progress with a Fitbit. I actually only used to sleep 3-4 hours a day until I established healthier pre sleep activities and then I increased that average to 5-6 hours, I will go into that in more detail in a second. But then insomnia creeps back in and my average drops back down to 3-4 hours. Read more here 

You’re probably wondering what I did differently to help me sleep? These are what I can remember:-

  • Reduced caffeine intake to 1 cup a day (I’ve gone back to 2is this why I now cannot sleep?)
  • I quit drinking alcohol
  • I never eat within 3 hours of going to sleep
  • I have a warm bath with magnesium flakes every night before bed
  • I take a vitamin super supplement each night that includes melatonin, chamomile and 5htp amongst others
  • I undertake some form of exercise 4/5 times a week either yoga or my power plate, yes even when I feel rubbish, mind over matter
  • I practise meditation daily, especially at night (now this has most definitely slipped off my radar just before bed, I need to start doing it before bed again)
  • I wear UV glasses when it gets dark to cut out the blue light from the tv and my phone
  • I drink 2-3 litres of water a day but never 90 minutes before bed
  • My bedroom is kept cool at around 19 degrees maximum
  • My bedroom is completely dark with blackout curtains
  • I wear earplugs for complete quiet
  • I quit taking medication every night for insomnia
  • Reduced consumption of chemicals by using organic
  • Reduced consumption of non natural foods, do not underestimate the effects of a poor diet!!

Now around 3 weeks ago I started to feel ill like I had some kind of virus, it wasn’t a cold or flu (thankfully my immune system always fights these off plus I take a super supplements with 21 different vitamins in). Ever since I had this short lasting virus I have not slept for more than 2-4 hours a night and this has set off many fibromyalgia symptoms;

  • Headaches
  • Restless legs
  • Nerve pain
  • Muscle aches and stiffness (like having the flu coming on)
  • Mood swings
  • IBS
  • Irritability
  • Pins and needles or burning on my skin all over
  • Cognitive issues; memory and concentration issues
  • And one of the worst; fatigue which I feel like I’ve got a constant hangover, coming down with flu type feeling
  • Depression

All this just because I cannot sleep!!

It’s a vicious circle as sleep deprivation increases symptoms of fibromyalgia and fibromyalgia causes insomnia. Due to having a near miss in my car I even asked my doctor for a couple of sleeping tablets, but they did not work 😂, I have to laugh.

So what should I do, give in, quit, start feeling sorry for myself? No, that won’t solve anything. I will tackle this problem like I do every other problem, by being practical. The solution does NOT lie in regular meds again, it lies within me. I just need to figure this out. I’m going to cut down my caffeine to one a day at 6.30am, stop watching tv half hour before bed and do some meditation/mindfulness yoga and when I cannot sleep I am going to start getting up and meditating rather than tossing and turning in bed all night.

The hardest thing about having insomnia is not being able to sleep in my own bed as I keep my husband awake 😦

If you read this and can relate don’t give up, don’t resort to meds as that’s just a bandaid, use them sparingly and take a long look at your daily activities and lifestyle as the key to removing insomnia will be in there somewhere.