Managing unexpected emotions

Handling the Unexpected Emotions of Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain

Emotions can make life beautiful, enjoyable, and extremely human. So what about when it comes to emotions and fibromyalgia? Fibromyalgia and chronic pain result in heightened or unexpected emotions.

Today, we’re looking at the science behind emotions, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain. We’re also looking at how to best handle and persevere through unexpected emotions every day.

Fibromyalgia and Amplified Emotions

According to research published in the Arthritis Care & Research journal, women experience greater pain when angered or saddened. Fibromyalgia affects mostly women. This means that your fibromyalgia pain symptoms could definitely be heightened alongside your emotions.

Additionally, fibromyalgia can be described as a “sensitivity syndrome.” This means that things that don’t cause others pain, can cause pain in those with fibromyalgia. Think of this as if it’s similar to petting a cat. While some cats may be okay with being pet for hours, others can get overstimulated easily and lash out after a few strokes.

Similarly, some of us with fibromyalgia experience pain during chores or simply while getting dressed, even though this isn’t a common occurrence for others.

Unique Challenges of Living with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain

As someone with fibromyalgia, this struggle is one that is near and dear to my heart. There are days where I feel sad and lonely completely out of the blue, which can slowly turn to anger. 

Why do I have to feel this way? And why does my fibromyalgia, fatigue, and chronic pain have to make dealing with a sad day that much harder?

I feel frustrated, and like I’m missing out on life or bonding with friends. All because my body and mind cannot keep up with those without fibromyalgia. Because of ensuing guilt, I start to make fewer plans with friends from the get-go because I’m scared to let them and myself down.

Logically, I know that it’s okay to say no and cancel on plans or activities when I’m unable to attend, but it’s a harsh cycle of feeling disappointed in myself, too.

Handling Emotions through Emotional Regulation

So what can we do about unexpected emotions that heighten fibromyalgia symptoms and chronic pain? Learning a few emotional regulation techniques may be able to help. This is a term used to describe your ability to manage and respond to emotions, with healthy activities including talking with friends and writing in a journal.

Unhealthy ways to regulate emotion include physical or verbal aggression, self-injury, or substance use. While it isn’t healthy to rely on these tactics, it is understandable to need help if these are tactics you rely on. Consider speaking with a medical professional if this is the case.

To start, you may want to rely on some trusted friends when you are feeling low. Exercising, journaling and even getting adequate sleep are great first steps to regulating your emotions especially when something changes in your daily routine.

With practice, your heightened pain may not fully go away, but you’ll be able to quickly identify and address it adequately each and every day.

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