Hitting the Reset Button in my Brain

I feel like the last flare kind of put me in a less-than-positive state of mind. Too many of my posts are talking about hardships of living with a chronic condition. While I don’t mean to shy away from being honest, and I don’t believe in deluding myself with positivity when things could obviously be better, I do believe that our state of mind can affect the state of our bodies. Letting out the frustration of a prolonged flare is helpful, but remaining in that angry, frustrated mode does no one any good.

So I have been on a journey to try and reset my mind to be a in a quieter, more peaceful place. I have had varying levels of success with the strategies I used, and I am sharing my thoughts on them here in case it can help someone else in a similar boat.

1. Take time by the moments instead of days.

The idea here is to just get through this moment in time and on to the next, and not think any further forward or backward. I try to keep busy at work, and ignore my body as much as I can. I have also taken to spending my evenings resting completely (unless I go for my pool exercise class). Sometimes I may play a crossword with my husband. We have fun, we goof off, we laugh when we make up silly words; I seem to relax. Throughout the day, I try to keep my focus mainly on the task at hand.

For the most part, this strategy works. When taking time moment to moment, I seem to be alright.

. . . But then a thought will pop up in my head about the next day that’s about to come, and I feel this dread. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I mind my job, I really like it in fact. What I dread is the struggle that going to sleep might prove to be, or the exhaustion when I wake again the next day, or the achiness, the tiredness, the tightness in my muscles that will aggravate me throughout the day. I dread that I will come back home, and rest, and feel better, and then my body will hit its reset button the next morning, and the whole thing will start all over again. Like an endless cycle of rest, pain and exhaustion.

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Taking time in moments stops me from thinking in the fashion above, but it also makes time feel disconnected. I feel like, as people, we thrive on some sort of continuity. That’s why we created the construct of “time” in the first place. When you take life one piece at a time, it is an effective coping mechanism because it gets you through the day. But for me, at some point, every moment seems to run into another, and it becomes hard to see where I have been and where I am going.

So even though this method works, I realized that is like putting a band-aid on wound that needs stitches. It might make you feel better and hide it from sight, but it probably won’t solve the problem. But for problems that can’t be solved, like the one I currently have I guess, this is still a useful strategy.

2. Reframe your mind to think of what you can do.

This one is hard for me because I associate fibromyalgia with so much loss. But I think it is important to note that there is still a lot that I can do that I don’t always think about. I don’t think about it because I expect to be able to do more, so I care less about what I still can. But perhaps I should not take all that for granted.

Perhaps it worth noting that regardless of how bad I felt, I could still take care of my husband after his surgery. I could take care of our home while working at the same time. I can still work! As a scientist, no less! I can still plan for a future, perhaps a house, or a vacation. I am still able to spend some time with friends when I like. None of it is easy, but I am still doing it. Regardless of how much patience I lose with myself, I am still coping with whatever life throws at me.

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I am not just a a face in the crowd – I am still capable of hopes and dreams and accomplishments!

In a weird way, this makes me feel both proud and more confident, and also more humbled. Proud and confident that I am capable on taking on the current challenge. But also more humbled: just because you could do something, doesn’t mean that you should. I feel grateful that I didn’t collapse, only flared, when the workload soared. But at the first chance, I am also cutting back so as to not provoke providence by taking it for granted.

Altogether, I have found this to be a good exercise. When I feel poorly, my list is fairly short. But I try to add every mundane thing I could and try to convince myself to feel accomplished for being able to do it. It helps me feel like I have been somewhere, and can do some things, and can still plan for some kind of future.

3. Accept that it sucks.

Sometimes that’s all you can do. Just accept that this is a bad patch, and ride it out. No point in being angry about it or punishing yourself for what you cannot do. Do what you can to mitigate the flare, but recognize that sometimes it’s like the flu — you just have to wait it out. Admit the feelings and thoughts that invade the mind, find an acceptable outlet for them, and try to redirect them in more positive directions (see #1 and #2 for instance). Show yourself some compassion.

This one, for me, is by far the hardest, though I have been actively coaching myself for a while. I feel like I need to have the answers to all my problems. If I don’t have ready answers, I feel like I need to find them. But sometimes there is no answer. All you can do is accept this is how it is. Funny thing is, when I am able to do it, it brings me so much peace of mind! And yet I struggle with the idea that I am “giving in” to the flare. But it is not: I am still looking for ways to help myself feel better; I am just done fighting the the problem itself. The focus is now on me. Not the flare or the illness itself.

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I have written extensively about acceptance before, and I will put the links below. It is probably the best way I have found of dealing with the emotional aspects of my condition. As you can see, however, it is not a goal you achieve and stay at. It’s a a never-ending journey on the road to peace.

Gentle hugs,



Part I: A Lesson in Perspective and Acceptance
Part II: What is “Acceptance”?
Part III: How Acceptance can lead to Happiness
Part IV (A): Seeking a State of Acceptance 
Part IV (B): Fighting the Denial of a Chronic Illness

6 thoughts on “Hitting the Reset Button in my Brain

  1. A never-ending journey is right, and I think it’s quite a powerful, motivating way to look at it in terms of giving your thoughts a little reset. Focusing on what you can do rather than what you can’t is, I’ve found, a very useful strategy – sending gentle hugs back your way! x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is powerful indeed! But also SO difficult sometimes when you want to do more (i.e., get through a “routine” day) and your body decides to start giving out under you. Luckily, it seems my flare my be improving. I am starting to feel back to some sort of normal again. “Normal” is an odd word to use, I suppose, but it’s funny how we as people note differences in conditions more than just the absolute value of it so to speak. 😀 Regardless, I am not complaining, I’m overjoyed in fact. To be fair, it’s been easier to reset my brain as I’ve started to feel a bit better. So I clearly have a very long way to go yet in this journey!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have to admit my first thought reading this was “work? She’s able to work?!”
    I can’t because I have chronic migraines along with my fibro…and it also keeps me from seeing friends and family very often, writing, gardening, walking, even just going out to dinner with my husband. I have painkillers for the worst days, but they wipe me out so much that I don’t have the energy to do anything fun.
    Sorry, I am a toad for throwing myself a pity party here on your post, which made some extremely good points about being positive! I’m also unfortunately having a severe depression relapse (change in medications hasn’t kicked in) so things seem worse than usual. And this incidentally proves what you were saying about the body-mind connection: when my depression is bad, my migraines and fibromyalgia generally get worse. All of those stress chemicals floating around is part of it, I think. Plus more disrupted sleep and increased muscle tension. It makes a lot of sense. Once my medications kick in, and spring actually shows up (we are in the middle of a snowstorm at this very moment!) I will be able to see things more clearly (the positive as well as the negative, and I know the positive is there…)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Barbara! Chronic migraine sounds absolutely hideous! 😦 What kind of medication do you use to tame/prevent that? I get recurrent migraines, where once it starts, it keeps on for days, coming back every so many hours despite the abortives. After a few days, that really wipes me out. So I really feel for you, how awful that must be. And I also understand how you must feel — here I am, whining away on my blog, when I am able to do more, and in arguably less pain and misery. Any resentment you feel, if any, would be totally justified, and I would feel none the offended, I promise. 🙂 To be honest though, being able to work has been very important to me… even if it means not doing anything else other than those 40 hours sometimes. My husband has pretty much taken over everything else, knowing how important it is to me, so I am able to keep doing it. But boy when he was out after his knee surgery, it was a serious struggle. I just about gave up. I tried really hard to not think, just do… because the moment I thought of the daily, non-stop uphill fighting, I felt like I was sinking only deeper and deeper into my own depression-hole. Still, I am grateful I was able to pull through, regardless of how I felt, when my family needed it. And I am still alive at the end of it, so all is not lost yet!

      Please, never feel sorry for being honest and letting some of the stress and tension out while you’re here. I really appreciate your sharing your personal thoughts with me. I cannot even imagine the kind of struggle you must live through everyday. I do hope you get some respite soon. Having lived with depression off and on all my life, I know it does nothing good, and makes it really really hard to see past the dark fog. I do hope that the darkness parts for you soon. Sending you lots of love and gentle hugs! ❤ P.S. Take care during those snowstorms, they look scary!


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