The Fibro of my Being

Thoughts on Fibromyalgia and How to Heal

Sara Halevi, MA, CBT

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?”

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”

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”

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”

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