Guest Blog! Fibromyalgia & Radical Acceptance
Hello everyone! My name is Penelope White, and Mia invited me to write a guest blog, which I happily agreed to. I did think for some time, though, about what my subject would be.
Finally, I came up with the two words that have carried me through many years, from my initial diagnosis to this very day. And those words are “Radical Acceptance.” Now, don’t get me wrong, radical acceptance does NOT mean giving up, it does not mean being passive, and it most certainly does not mean letting people running roughshod over you. So, you may ask, what does it mean, and how can it help me?
Let me start with an example from my life. When I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2005 (after a frustrating 6 years of being told my symptoms were all in my head), it was something of a shock. Even though I finally had a name to put to the overwhelming fatigue and debilitating pain I was experiencing, I know my life was about to change in many ways. I realized that I was living in a new reality.
One of the most painful things I realized was that I would not be able to make long term plans and I would have to to relinquish some of my dreams due to the nature of my illness. And every day, around the world, men and women of all ages are faced with that same reality. I will admit I went through a time of anger and depression.
Then I realized that my self pity and rage were not helping me in the least. So I had to come to the point of complete and total acceptance - radical acceptance. I accepted that I had a chronic illness that was going to change my life in many, many ways. I accepted that I was going to have days filled with pain, fatigue and brain fog. I accepted that I would have to cancel plans with friends on days that I could barely get out of bed among many other things.. The most important acceptance was of myself. (and you need to accept yourself also!) And once I came to radical acceptance, then I was able to face my fibromyalgia and deal with it.
I began to learn coping strategies, like learning to say “No” more often, or realizing that that I am my own best friend and that only I can advocate for and stand up for myself. Only I can be my best friend - and only you, wherever and whoever you are, can be your own best friend. No matter what your illness, and no matter where you are on your journey, radical acceptance is a necessary first step. Mind you, I’m not saying it is easy. But, it is well worth it. The best part is that radical acceptance works in many areas of life.
So my friends, whatever your journey, radical acceptance is an important first step. Without that acceptance forward progress in any area of your life is practically impossible. Acceptance brings peace, peace brings strength, strength brings courage, and courage brings hope. Hope is that thing that helps us to cope with everyday life, the good and the bad. And isn’t that what this glorious thing called life is, day in and day out? And so I leave you all with those two words - “radical acceptance.” I hope they will help you as much as they have helped me.