Fibromyalgia is a purely psychological condition. There is no physical component other than what you imagine. It is simply a case of mind over matter. If you were more positive, and could pull yourself together, this would not be happening to you.
However, maybe at least part of fibromyalgia can be controlled by addressing the psychological issues.
Many sufferers become defensive at the suggestion that fibromyalgia has a psychological component. This suggestion can be like a “red rag to a bull”: They become visibly angry when this opinion is expressed.
I suspect that this reaction is because many people, and sadly, many doctors, really do think that fibromyalgia is a psychological condition. Perhaps by conceding that this is at least PARTLY true, sufferers are worried that the entire illness could be dismissed as something they could control. All they have to do is try a bit harder.
Fibromyalgia is a life-long, painful, exhausting, debilitating condition. Why would you NOT be psychologically affected by it?
Yet people with fibromyalgia often seem reluctant to pursue any form of psychological intervention for their illness. For example, I ran a poll asking people about fibromyalgia ebooks. I asked what sort of information people would hope to read about. One of the suggested topics was: “Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy”. In the poll, this was one of the least popular responses.
I must say that I am genuinely surprised by this. Why? Because once you’ve done everything you can to reduce the symptoms of fibromyalgia, and live as normal a life as possible, you still have to be able to cope with what’s left. Most people with fibromyalgia will never be completely well again. To me, that’s a scary and depressing thought. It takes inner strength to accept that you can still live a fulfilling life with fibromyalgia. Why dismiss something that could help you find that strength?
In a recent post, I wrote about having a positive attitude, and how it can be important to acknowledge when you’re having a good day. I got some interesting feedback. There seemed to be two main viewpoints. Some people were obviously offended – What did I think they had to be positive about? Others agreed that if you see even the good days as being miserable, you risk making your suffering even worse.
I see two explanations for why these different views exist. One is that some people suffer more severely than others because that is the nature of fibromyalgia. Your mental attitude has nothing to do with it. Such people find even the good days barely manageable. Therefore, if you are the sort of person that can walk about with a smile on your face just because, “things could be worse”, it simply means you don’t have a severe case of fibromyalgia.
An alternative explanation is that of the self-fulfilling prophecy: People, who believe that they have a terribly debilitating disease, reinforce this belief with their thoughts, words and actions. In doing so, they actually CAUSE their condition to worsen. In other words, a chronic illness, such as fibromyalgia, can be made almost unbearable by the persistent fear and belief that severe suffering is unavoidable.
Many of us think and express negative affirmations, such as “I feel too unwell to go out today”. Such affirmations can become habit, and we find ourselves saying this type of thing all the time. Every time we do so, we reinforce our ill health and actually contribute to it. But POSITIVE affirmations can become habit too: “I feel better today”. Said enough times, this really can lead to an improvement in your health.
Your mind is a powerful thing. Use it well.
We can reprogram our beliefs and, in doing so, make positive changes to our health. By learning to discard harmful habits, such as frequently thinking and expressing negative affirmations, we can use the power of our mind to ease the physical symptoms of fibromyalgia.