Fibro Blog

The Fibro of my Being

Thoughts on Fibromyalgia and How to Heal

Sara Halevi, MA, CBT

Re-engaging with Gratitude

I went out to a café with some colleagues. Now, that might not have sounded thrilling a year and a half ago, but we have been stuck inside with our pod-mates for ages, and well, no one is THAT nice, let’s face it. Now that many restrictions have been lifted, I took advantage of theContinue reading “Re-engaging with Gratitude”

Saying YES!

Lately I’ve been noticing I’m saying ‘yes’ more often. What I mean by this is that I have specifically been saying yes to more physical activities lately. Last week was a good example. My kids initiated two different outings, both of which had the potential to be exhausting –though also satisfying. My initial knee-jerk reactionContinue reading “Saying YES!”

The Only Way Out

A client asked me recently if I have ever worked with anyone who got better without doing all of the things I believe are necessary, such as changes in diet, movement, meditation and cognitive re-framing. The answer I gave her is an emphatic “NO.” Now, I wish this were not true. I also wish thereContinue reading “The Only Way Out”

One Step at A Time

As we are all marking the anniversary of the pandemic, I am celebrating another anniversary. On March 2, 1990 I crossed the 18,000-foot mountain pass in the Himalayas, known as the “Thorong-La.” Here’s the story: I was 26 years old, recently married, off with a backpack for a year-long adventure. I was never an avidContinue reading “One Step at A Time”

I Survived the Vax

I see a lot of discussion on social media about the COVID vaccine and whether or not it is appropriate for people with Fibro. Well, folks, here is my experience. I qualified in early stages of the vaccine roll-out on two fronts: One, as a health care worker, and two, as one of three caregiversContinue reading “I Survived the Vax”

Tracking Device Advice

If you read my blog on a weekly basis, you know that I have a new fitness tracker. I have a love-hate relationship with exercise; I hate it when it’s in front of me, but I love it when it’s over. I realize I’m not alone in this ambivalence, actually, I think it’s pretty common.Continue reading “Tracking Device Advice”

Managing Expectations

Yesterday I went out for a 5k run. Well, “run” is an exaggeration. It’s more like a combination of slow jog, fast walk and panting. I did make an effort, though, and thought I should be rewarded by my smartwatch. Instead of a reward, my stupid watch said, “You have 12,000 more steps to reachContinue reading “Managing Expectations”

How to Combat the Cold

It’s cold out. For many Fibro warriors, cold weather means pain, achiness and hibernation. Today I’m giving a few hints that might make winter a bit more tolerable. Wear warm socks: I have a friend who is a doctor of Chinese medicine, and she has always nagged me to wear socks. It turns out thereContinue reading “How to Combat the Cold”

Reaching Out or Turning In

This can be a difficult time for people who are already struggling. It is common knowledge that the winter holiday season brings both tidings of joy and a sharp increase in suicides. There are a number of people in my life – both personally and professionally – who are having a pretty hard time rightContinue reading “Reaching Out or Turning In”

Balancing Pies

If you were hoping for a post about pumpkin vs pecan, I’m about to disappoint you. PIES is an acronym for four elements of the human experience, Physical, Intellectual, Emotional and Spiritual. The quality of our lives depends to a great extent on our ability to balance the energies of these four areas. In theContinue reading “Balancing Pies”

When you Want to Call it Quits

I’ve been seeing a troubling increase in social media posts lately by fellow warriors who are at the end of their ability to cope. This makes me feel incredibly sad and powerless, and I want to reach out to those of you today who feel like you just can’t go on. Firstly, I want toContinue reading “When you Want to Call it Quits”

Gluten-free Blogging

Many of you have asked me what you should be eating. Now, this is a great sign, because it indicates a new awareness that what you eat affects how you feel. I understand that this is not 100% universally true, but it is true for most of us. For me, it’s incredibly clear that wheatContinue reading “Gluten-free Blogging”

Creativity Feels Good

I, for example, love to knit, crochet and needlepoint. I did not do these things for many years, because my Fibro pain always starts in my hands. (I have not had pain in six years. You can read more about that here.) It wasn’t until I started up again that I realized how much IContinue reading “Creativity Feels Good”

How I Beat Fibro

I have mentioned that I have not had a Fibro flare in many years. So many people have asked me how I did this, I decided to spell it out. To be clear, my Fibro was always episodic rather than chronic; I would get a flare every year or two that put me in bedContinue reading “How I Beat Fibro”

Shifting One Thing

There are a number of things that I notice when I cruise the social media Fibro posts. One is that some people insist that Fibro is progressive, meaning it gets worse with age. Another is that people say there is nothing that helps, nothing you can do, no way to get better. Well, that isContinue reading “Shifting One Thing”

Why your doctors tell you it’s all in your head

I read hundreds of social media posts every week describing incidents just like this. A person with Fibro who has been suffering terribly and waited for weeks, even months for a doctor’s appointment is told, “it’s all in your head.” It is more than disappointing, it is humiliating. Why do doctors continue to say this,Continue reading “Why your doctors tell you it’s all in your head”

Talking to Myself

When people ask me how I put my Fibro into remission six years ago, I give them the usual list of things I changed. These things include radical dietary changes, taking up yoga and getting regular acupuncture treatments. The last piece of the puzzle for me was developing positive self-talk. People tend to have busyContinue reading “Talking to Myself”

Juggling Plastic and Glass

The Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg – may her memory be a revolution – left us with many rich legacies. One of them is the metaphor of balancing home life and work life through the image of juggling balls, some glass and some plastic. The way the judge explained it, we are all juggling many ballsContinue reading “Juggling Plastic and Glass”

The Business of Medicine

I have long been observing what doctors – general practitioners, rheumatologists, psychiatrists and neurologists for the most part – recommend for their Fibro patients. Now, given that we are talking about 470 million people with Fibro in the world, this involves a LOT of doctors, so this is admittedly a gross generalization. Mostly what IContinue reading “The Business of Medicine”

Educate your Doctors

I have a new saying: “Get better doctors – make our doctors better.” Really, it’s not their fault. There is nothing in the current western medical education that teaches how to treat an illness with no medically established source. This does not mean, however, that I accept this as how it has to be. InContinue reading “Educate your Doctors”

Be the Change

One of the sticking points in the successful treatment and management of Fibro is the necessity to make changes. Change is hard for most people. Humans are simply creatures of habit, and that means change is challenging, even when we are harming ourselves. If you have ever spoken with a recovering addict, you might knowContinue reading “Be the Change”

Medication – Yes or No?

Every day I read post after post on social media from people seeking information on medications for Fibro. There are a number of medications that are regularly prescribed by doctors, including primary care, psychiatrists and rheumatologists, that target some of the most debilitating fibro symptoms. We see many of these medications thrown around in conversationsContinue reading “Medication – Yes or No?”

To Those Who Don’t Believe You

Are there people in your life who don’t believe you are ill? Do they say things like, “you don’t look sick,” and “it can’t really be that bad.” These statements are in the same category as the doctor’s “it’s all in your head.” NOT HELPFUL. Most people don’t mean to be hurtful, and I’m willingContinue reading “To Those Who Don’t Believe You”

Making Choices

One of the most difficult things for someone with Fibro to navigate is processing emotions. When we become aware of what we are feeling, whether that is pain or pleasure, there are countless thoughts and emotions that are churned up in an instant, and then we are quickly swamped, overwhelmed, and paralyzed. For example, whenContinue reading “Making Choices”

Yes, it can be Treated.

Well, I guess I’ve made it, because I had my first troll this week. I’m glad this person wrote on my FibroConsulting page, because she gave me the idea for this post. So, thank you Ms. Troll. I often see people commenting on the Facebook groups that Fibro can’t be treated. They also say “there’sContinue reading “Yes, it can be Treated.”

How Gratitude Helps Pain

I know it sounds odd, but here it is…the more you feel and express gratitude, the less pain you will have. Here’s how it works: Happiness, joy and contentment are processed in the brain by the neurotransmitters Dopamine and Serotonin. When we feel happy, the levels of these hormones rise. And when that happens, weContinue reading “How Gratitude Helps Pain”

Fibro Hacks

I definitely believe that real change happens slowly, and that true healing does not happen overnight. But sometimes you just want to feel a tiny bit of relief RIGHT NOW. And that’s when we turn to hacks. I want to start out by thanking my daughter, Liora, for the idea to write about Fibro hacks.Continue reading “Fibro Hacks”

Why Can’t I Sleep?

People with Fibro often suffer from sleep disorders, including non-restorative, non-restful sleep. This is most likely attributable to the vagus nerve, which is responsible for modulating pain, digestion, and regulating sleep cycles. Sleep is one of the most difficult things to live without. When you don’t have adequate sleep, and your sleep is non-restorative, everythingContinue reading “Why Can’t I Sleep?”

The Good News

I was reminded in a recent conversation with a client that many people with chronic pain and illness struggle with the concept of the mind-body connection. While I know this, I often wonder, why the confusion? Why the resistance? This is what is on my mind. As a teenager, I remember seeing an episode ofContinue reading “The Good News”

Where do you get your Information?

We are living in the Age of Information. That is irrefutable. However, we are also living in a reality in which it is not easy to discern fact from opinion. If you have Fibro, you might be wondering if the information you have is fact or fiction. One way to tackle that question is toContinue reading “Where do you get your Information?”

What to do During a Flare

Fibro is tricky, and can be unpredictable. Sometimes, however, it can be frustratingly predictable, meaning it can deliver exactly what you expect. I’m talking now about STRESS = FLARE. In times of high stress, our bodies often respond by shutting down. I remember in my early days of Fibro I went to my doctor inContinue reading “What to do During a Flare”

When Exercise Really Hurts

In my work with people with Fibro and other chronic illnesses, I talk non-stop about the importance of exercise. It’s not as if this is some great big secret. I believe we have reached a point in history where we all know exercise is one of our lifelines. For people with Fibro, however, this canContinue reading “When Exercise Really Hurts”

Oy, the Stress!

As many of us have been spending an inordinate amount of time on social media lately, I’ve been reading about the relationship between Fibro and stress. During this incredibly strange time of Corona lockdown-unemployment mania, many people are experiencing high levels of stress – myself included. Those of us who tend to feel stress physicallyContinue reading “Oy, the Stress!”

Two Kinds of Doctors

Over the course of my life I have had some amazing doctors. The doctor who diagnosed my Fibro is not only a genius, ahead of her time, but is dedicated to educating herself continually. One day when I came in to her office in a terrible flare, she asked me, “what happened yesterday?” (My daughterContinue reading “Two Kinds of Doctors”

Rejecting the Stages

I follow a number of groups for people with Fibro (since I am one), and I’ve recently been seeing posts about the “Six Stages of Fibromyalgia.” First, let me be clear; I would never, ever, EVER minimize someone else’s experience with this condition, nor would I compare my experience with anyone else’s. But people, let’sContinue reading “Rejecting the Stages”

Life Without Pizza – or Pain

Over the last few years I have adapted an anti-inflammatory diet: no gluten, dairy, sugar, nightshades or meat. Now, I do occasionally cheat. A little. More like “cheating light.” I have a bite of spelt challah every Friday night. Literally, one bite. I will taste something special on a rare occasion, but will not consumeContinue reading “Life Without Pizza – or Pain”

Why Fibro Needs a Manager

While the healthcare profession struggles with much that we do not understand about Fibromyalgia, we do all agree on this: Fibro is complex. It involves many systems of the mind-body, including brain chemistry, nervous system, muscles, tendons, joints, digestion, sleep cycle, and the list goes on. It also involves financial issues, relationship stress and aContinue reading “Why Fibro Needs a Manager”

Meditation Can Help Fibro

It seems the world population can be divided into two: Meditators, and people who think meditation is impossible. The truth is, anyone and everyone can meditate, and you should, especially if you have Fibro. In recent years we have seen an explosion of celebrities taking up meditation (Oprah meditates!), backed by evidence-based claims that meditationContinue reading “Meditation Can Help Fibro”

How Fear Makes Pain Worse

Everyone experiences pain. There are no exceptions to this. In graduate school I often heard a well-worn phrase, “everyone’s pain hurts.” That was brought to teach us not to judge our clients, to accept that everyone has a different ability to tolerate pain, and so we should never think we would tolerate someone else’s painContinue reading “How Fear Makes Pain Worse”

Who Should Be Managing your Fibro?

Primary Care Physicians are inundated with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue cases. In the current climate of managed care,  an ill patient receives an average of 10-15 minutes of attention from the well-meaning doctor, and leaves with a prescription or a referral. A person with Fibro often gets bounced around to a number of specialists, includingContinue reading “Who Should Be Managing your Fibro?”

Why are Teenagers Getting Fibro?

There are many things that are unique about adolescence. It is a developmentally tumultuous time that involves many physical and emotional systems. When a teenager is having a normal day, they are inundated with hormones, physical growth, emotional confusion and intensive brain activity. Introduce stress and sometimes the balance is tipped a bit too much.Continue reading “Why are Teenagers Getting Fibro?”

Are we Making any Progress?

I’ve been researching some statistics for my upcoming training course for Fibro practitioners. The World Health Organization (WHO) now estimates that 6% of the world population may have Fibro. That is a very high number. It would follow, then, that in the face of what appears to be a mini epidemic, cures would be comingContinue reading “Are we Making any Progress?”

The Five Pillars of Treatment

Fibromyalgia is a complex condition that requires multifaceted treatment. In my experience, an effective treatment plan has five main elements, and they are: Medication Meditation Food Exercise Therapy Medication includes any and all substances that address Fibro pain, including SNRIs, Lyrica, opioid narcotics, and cannabis. Treating pain and depression are essential to the management of day toContinue reading “The Five Pillars of Treatment”

The Fibromyalgia Dialectic: Finding the Balance Between Rest and Move

One of the most confusing aspects of Fibro is that often the person suffering does not know whether to rest more or to move more. These two ideas seem to be diametrically opposed. The truth is, they are both right. And that’s the confusing part.There is a new and growing trend in treatment called DBTContinue reading “The Fibromyalgia Dialectic: Finding the Balance Between Rest and Move”

Open the Jar

Clearly, pain is in the body. So when people tell Fibro sufferers “it’s all in your head,” it’s not only unhelpful but it’s offensive. Truly, pain is in your body — and in your head. Nerve centers are responsible for carrying pain signals to the brain, which, of course, is in your head. The mind-bodyContinue reading “Open the Jar”

A Better Model for Treatment of Fibromyalgia

It is estimated that over 5 million Americans suffer from Fibromyalgia, most of them women, the vast majority of those over 40. Fibro is clinically defined as pain in a number of points throughout the body, and symptoms can also include fatigue, sleep disorder, nausea, headaches, memory loss and depression. Pain and other symptoms canContinue reading “A Better Model for Treatment of Fibromyalgia”

Why is My Teenager So Tired?

The Fatigue Illnesses Meet AdolescenceThe teens of today are under more stress than ever before. There is unprecedented competition to get into prestigious colleges and universities; jobs are scarce; dating and marriage are wrought with confusing messages, health risks and pitfalls. Stress-related illnesses are under-diagnosed in adolescents; drugs, alcohol and other forms of self-medication areContinue reading “Why is My Teenager So Tired?”

Diagnosis: Sick of It

Boundary issuesThere are a few common themes with young fibro patients, and this is one: Weak boundaries. They tend to be very caring, very empathic with their friends, siblings, parents. They are the family peacemakers, the one the other family members count on to be solidly supportive at all times. Parents see them as veryContinue reading “Diagnosis: Sick of It”

All in your head?

Psyche and SomaFibro is, in the strictest sense, psychosomatic; in other words, there is a clear connection between the mind and body. Stress exacerbates symptoms; relaxation and stress reduction alleviate symptoms. However, this is not to say that the pain is not real, or, as many of my cases have been told, “all in yourContinue reading “All in your head?”

Depression with FMS and CFS

Depression can be viewed as both a symptom of fibro and a co-morbid condition. Often when a teenager is finally referred to me for fibro he will report a long-standing depression. Childhood onset depression is slippery and often overlooked. Interestingly enough, symptoms of depression in children and teenagers can include vague aches and pains,[1] particularly headachesContinue reading “Depression with FMS and CFS”

Building Trust With Practitioners

I recently treated a teenager who had learned to mistrust her doctors. Though she clearly was suffering from a severely debilitating case of Fibro, many of the physicians she had consulted had been derailed by her obesity. Instead of viewing her weight as a symptom (one of many) of Fibro, the doctors had decided theContinue reading “Building Trust With Practitioners”

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