Success at improving fibromyalgia symptoms

It has taken me a couple of years of blood, sweat and tears to find out what affects my fibromyalgia. We all have similar symptoms and similar causes of flare ups, but we are all different and a symptom you may have I may not and vice versa.

Flare ups are caused by a number of factors:-

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Illness
  • Surgery
  • Certain foods and drinks
  • Doing too much
  • Doing too little

I have introduced a few things to my life that have made a positive difference:-

  • Mindfulness meditation
  • Massage
  • Gentle exercise
  • Positive thinking and affirmations
  • Pacing my activities
  • Hot tub/hot baths
  • A healthier organic diet using 90/10 ratio; 10% being not healthy and organic 😂
  • A strict bedtime routine
  • Stretching

I made big changes to my diet which has made a huge difference and affected the following symptoms by either reducing or eradicating them completely:-

  • Removing tingling and numbness
  • Reduction and almost an elimination of anxiety
  • Reduction in insomnia
  • Elimination of diarrhoea and nausea
  • Improved by ability to cope with stressful situations
  • Reduced my negative moods
  • Reduced my fatigue
  • Loss of 25 pounds in weight

In order to find out what food affected me I had to go onto what is called a diagnostic diet for 2 weeks. I basically lived on hunter and gatherer foods and drinks. No caffeine, alcohol, processed food etc and the only meat and fish I could eat is what you’d be able to kill when we were cavemen and women, certain vegetables (green and cauliflower, I added this in as I love it) and berries, kiwi and seeds. The foods I could eat are highlighted in pink on this picture.

then I extended this for another week and could eat as much a liked!!

I got migraines, headaches, cravings and felt awful, the consultant explained it was down to withdrawals. After the 5th day I started to feel much better, in fact I felt great, had more energy and started to sleep more than my usual 3 hours a night!

After 3 weeks I slowly, 1 day at a time, started to introduce one food item a day, I ate it for breakfast along with the diagnostic foods too, then again at lunchtime and kept a diary of any reactions plus any overnight weight gain. If I had a reaction it was very severe and usually was a headache, numbness, tingling, fatigue, diarrhoea, muscle pain or weakness, or a combination of the above. I’d also put weight on overnight which is not actual fat but my body reacting to the food; water retention. I then waited till the flare up passed and continued to reintroduce food one at a time. The list of foods I tried after the initial diagnostic diet are in the picture below. All apart from the ones I crossed out as I had already stopped eating these some years ago.

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ome foods I can eat rarely as these do not cause a major flare up of symptoms but minor ones, are the following:-

  • Diary
  • Wheat
  • Gluten
  • Low sugar items
  • Caffeine

Foods I cannot eat as they dramatically affect my symptoms the I had reduced or eradicated are the following:-

  • Alcohol
  • Sugar
  • Any processed foods
  • Anything containing E numbers, MSG or anything artificial
  • Eggs (due to the conditions their parents are raised according to my consultant. Poor living conditions, fed a poor diet and given hormones)
  • Chicken (same reason as above)

I don’t eat a lot of red meat but love turkey nom nom. I also don’t eat many ‘other’ white foods like pasta or rice, opting for the occasional wholewheat option or substitutes, occasionally eating white potatoes and switching to non MSG organic gravy. We make all our own sauces now not ones that are pre-made unless free from additives and chemicals.

I can however eat crisps with no additives yummy and very dark chocolate 🤗.

Milk upsets my stomach but I can get away with a little bit so I use a substitute, oat milk is lovely and I can use coconut and almond but not soy due to hormone issues (cysts and Endometriosis). I can drink coffee as long as it’s not Jarred and it’s freshly brewed ☕️.

Alcohol makes me very ill apart from the odd gin but I quit last December as I really cannot see the point, whether this lasts all year who knows 😂. I cannot eat mango or bananas as they cause a mini flare as they contain too many natural sugars.

The worst reactions I get are from MSG and sugar. The fatigue and muscle pain are very extreme.

My consultant explained to me that once you go 3 weeks on a very bland diagnostic diet it’s like a reset to the system, so any foods you reintroduce create a much more severe reaction that I wouldn’t have spotted on my previous diet.

Am I an angel 😇 nope. I do still fall off the wagon but at least I can pinpoint why and this keeps me positive.

The other things I changed was my bedtime routine. I wear uv glasses as move away from the tv at least half an hour before bed to help calm my nervous system, increase my natural melatonin (blue light reduction) and reduce overstimulation of my brain. I meditate for 10-20 minutes before bed using my headspace app and headphones. I have about 5 different subjects on the go at once 👌🙏. This new activity has helped improve my mental health and negative thinking and helped me remove unhelpful thoughts 💭, I just tend to laugh at myself now. I do however allow myself the occasional cry 😭. As I find it helps clear my head and move on from whatever is bothering me at the time, there are no positives in bottling up negative feelings.

Immobility has worsened my morning stiffness and muscle aches and increased my fatigue so much I struggle to walk more than 20 metres or use the stairs in my house! You need to find the right gentle exercise and persevere. I used to be super fit and have muscles pre fibromyalgia, it took me years to accept that I can never train like that anymore. But it doesn’t matter as health has to come first. I find doing gentle interval training on my power plate works wonders for me. Yes I hurt a few days after, but I am going to hurt anyway 😂 might as well be hurting from doing something than doing nothing. Find out what works for you; walking, swimming, yoga, stretching, Pilates, biking, whatever, just don’t make the same mistake I have and stop moving. It’s better to ache from moving than hurting from not!!!!!!!!!

I started slow, just a few mins once a week and now I’m up to 5 mins 3 times a week and I will continue to increase this gradually. Everyone has to exercise to stay healthy, you will hurt so just slow it down.

Learning self hypnosis and NLP techniques is also important too, use positive language, behaviours and thoughts. I used to moan constantly but all it did was make myself feel worse. Now I focus on the positives, even on really bad days like today, I’ve been up all night with back pain but at least I’m still breathing and I have a 90 minute massage today and half day off work yay. Yes I’ll be struggling to walk tomorrow as the massage is painful the day after but it’s great for my stiff tired muscles and exercises them.

I know it’s hard and I know how you feel, you want to give up, but what is the alternative? Life is too precious so grab it by both hands, by the neck if you have to 😂 and start making some changes to how you live; keep a food log, try the diagnostic diet and eat healthier, use a pacing diary so you know how much you can manage before fatigue kicks in (takes me about 48 hours to kick in) get moving, train you mind like you would your body. If you don’t change your life you will never feel any different!

Take care and ask any questions as I am completely open and honest, no one knows how you feel but someone with fibromyalgia. You can improve your symptoms even if it’s not your primary condition like me. If I can do it so can you 👍💖

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I don’t want to take morphine

I injured my knee by stupidly taking out my armour due to it being very hot 27 degrees on my bike training day.  I had a fantastic lesson and was feeling very confident for my test which I had booked in about 10 days time.  I was on my last practise run and came off the big motorbike bashing the inside of my left knee on the bike.  My leg swelled and I rested it, my leg went black but I thought it would heal.

I went to work in London and walked a short distance to my hotel as the weather was beautiful.  Half way back my leg was very painful and I could barely walk.  I checked into the hotel and struggled up to my room.  I sat on the bed and my leg swelled, the knee looked like it had a bone sticking out on the inside.  6 hours in A&E in London is hell,iv Morphine and gas to get an X-ray, no break but a ligament injury.  I was released at 2.30am on crutches wearing a leg brace for the next month.

Anyway the point of this story is that I’ve had to stop exercising and the use of the crutches has resulted in my fibro returning back to the levels it was at about 15 months ago!

Tramadol and Oramorph are not touching the knee pain so the doctor has put me onto Morphine tablets, they have helped but I’m still in tramadol withdrawal which is horrendous.

I am not staying on Morphine and the last few months of my increasing painkiller consumption has made me realise they are no good long term.  I don’t just have fibromyalgia and the my meds are to reduce the pain I have from a number of conditions, I only developed fibro due to the back surgery I had.  I have degenerative disc disease, spondylolisthesis, endometriosis and pelvic congestion.  The pain I get from these conditions are made worse through having fibro.  Where do I go from here back onto Fentanyl patches?  No bloody way!!

First thing I’m going to do is speak to the doctor and ask them for medical help to get off these meds.  I’m going to revert back to the strategy I started last year; mindfulness yoga, meditation and very very slowly build lung up my exercise to interval training again plus I need to overhaul my diet.  Anyone with fibro knows how painful it is restarting exercising as the muscle aches are intense, nothing like anyone can imagine, it’s like having the flu but ten times worse!

Food is a very underestimated medicine.  Eat shit and feel shit!!  Fibro makes us very sensitive to food ingredients and if you read what you eat, some of the contents and unrecognisable.

Once I feel well enough to start exercising again I’ll post up what I’m doing and let you know how I get on with coming off meds again!!

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 😁

This book changed my life – competition

This book and cd was lent to me by the Psychology Centre in Chesterfield under the NHS.

Pain, suffering and stress can be intolerable – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Mindfulness for Health reveals a series of simple practices that you can incorporate into your daily life to relieve chronic pain and the suffering and stress of illness. Clinical trials show that mindfulness meditation can be as effective as prescription painkillers and also enhances the body’s natural healing systems. Mindfulness can also reduce the anxiety, depression, irritability, exhaustion and insomnia that can arise from chronic pain and illness.

Mindfulness for Health is based on a unique meditation programme developed by Vidyamala Burch to help her cope with the severe pain of spinal injury. Taught at Breathworks in the UK – and its affiliates around the world – this programme has helped tens of thousands of people cope with pain, illness and stress.
The eight-week programme at the heart of this book takes just 10-20 minutes per day. You’ll be surprised by how quickly your suffering melts away, leaving behind a deep-seated love of life.
You might be thinking this sounds too good to be true but it really has changed my life.

This is a great video here by one of the co-authors that explains why she wrote the book 👍

Dr Danny Penman is an award-winning journalist and author. He has worked for the BBC and The Independent newspaper. He is a feature and comment writer for the London Daily Mail. He holds a PhD in biochemistry and a postgraduate diploma in newspaper journalism. He is co-author of the bestselling Mindfulness: a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world (Piatkus).

Vidyamala Burch is founder and co-Director of Breathworks, an organisation offering mindfulness-based and compassion-based approaches to living well with chronic pain, illness and stress. In 2008 she published Living Well with Pain and Illness: the mindful way to ease your suffering (Piatkus) which is based on the Breathworks programme. She has also produced led meditation CDs and booklets available through Breathworks.

Mindfulness is about the quality of attention that you bring to the moments of your life; it’s awareness with non-judgmental, open-hearted acceptance. Integrating mindfulness into your life can do wonders for your well-being in all areas of life. It helps you to focus your mind, see things more clearly and calm your body – a very helpful and healthy way to manage the stress of our busy lives; to more skillfully manage emotions; and to stop reliving the past and/or worrying about the future.

I am running a competition to win this book on my FB page.  All you have to do is share my page, like and comment on the competition post here 

Pacing with fibromyalgia

I have kept diaries in the past to track pain which was hard to determine what caused it as I did not know I had fibromyalgia at that time.  Everything hurt like hell 😂😂

I started to keep a Fibro diary about 3 months ago to see what caused pain and exhaustion to try to help me figure out what I could do and not have a Fibro attack, crash whatever you want to call it.

As part of my mindfulness course I am trying a new one which is a much better plan:-


This lists, activity, time taken, a rating for whatever you are tracking, mine is pain and exhaustion as separate ratings.  1 being minimal and 10 being extreme.  Then I log a physical tension rating and whether I perceive the activity as either an increase ‘+’ or decrease ‘-‘ or no change ‘0’.

The whole purpose of this is to try to see what activities increase pain, exhaustion and tension or whatever your scale is tracking, then to try to reduce the length of time by 20%, to try to reduce the boom, bust cycle, so the overdoing it then becoming ill, making myself incapable of activities until recovered. 
For example if sitting for 10 minutes is ok but more is painful, I just get up at 8 minutes and do something else for a period of time to reduce the chance of pain.

This is great in principle as it can help me plan my day better but presently it hurts to sit and stand at work and the more walking I do the more exhausted I get 😂😂. Since adding the hot water bottle I can sit for longer.  So I have in fact found a compromise.

I am going to keep the diary for a few days until my next session to see what happens and see if I can change anything to ensure I don’t fall into the boom or bust cycle. 


There are some great tips on the 2 pictures above.  

I have even been using my mindfulness meditation at work at lunch time as I find it helps me control my exhaustion due to mental exhaustion.  I don’t even need to close my eyes anymore as I can do it staring at something with a soft focus.

The pain I have is lower back ache which has ramped up since I restarted my regular mindfulness yoga.  It’s just lactic acid building up in my body as I allowed myself to become immobile.  The more I exercise the stronger I will become and in the long term my pain will reduce.

I will never ever allow myself not to be able to exercise and I will not allow myself to get overweight as this would be irresponsible and showing contempt for my health and wellbeing.

Struggling with Fibro symptoms each month!

Wow today has been rough.  I usually have to deal with the pain with Oramorph but I’m resisting this month.  I’ve stuck to co codamol and Tramadol, the first 2 co codamol has done nothing this afternoon, I’m  hoping the Tramadol works.

I’m on my 4th hot water bottle today and the pain is bleeding through.  I know this won’t last, the first 48 hours are always rough, then the remaining 3 days I can deal with.

I did not get anything much done at work this afternoon as I could not think straight, so I came home.  I’m hoping an early start tomorrow will be just the ticket.

I was reading on the Internet about options for this as it’s not something women with fibromyalgia talk about much, but we should.   In particular ones that are coming up to menopause age, I’m 41, my mum was 38! Anyway there isn’t much advice apart from going back on the pill! Ah no thank you.  I am not putting more crap in my system.  No I’ll stick with my yoga (I did it last night), my hot water bottle and the odd painkiller.  Read here for more details.

When I feel this much pain I hate this condition, it’s as painful as the start of contractions in childbirth.  But from under taking mindfulness meditation I know it will pass, it’s not a permanent state.  Things will get better.