Understanding this to help my mother

Posted , 5 users are following.

Hello All,

My mother suffers from Fibromyalgia and I have watched it destroy her and my fathers life for the past 10 years plus.  She has completely given up on life, and basically spends her days sleeping, eating unhealthy, and watching TV.  I am not here to debate the pain and difficulty that Fibromyalgia causes, nor am I seeking a cure.  I wish to better my understanding of it so that perhaps I can somehow motivate her to improve her life, at least in a capacity that would assist with the hardship it puts on my father.  Please understand I mean nothing but respect towards the condition, and those who come here for support. 

My mother is about 60 years old and Fibromyalgia is her identity.  She speaks of it constantly, and it somehow gets brought up in every conversation.  Again, I do not doubt her pain, nor the difficulty of living with it.  However, each day we hear about survivor stories, and people that go on to live full-rich lives and achieve great things while struggling through their respective disease.  She appears to have given up.  She has always struggled with weight loss for example, and I feel like additional weight on her bones and muscles most likely make it difficult to function in addition with Fibromyalgia.  She also suffers from depression, which makes it difficult to discuss serious issues like this with her.

Just to be clear, I am not wishing for her to function as a normal, disease free individual.  I just want her to reach her potential, and not be as self-defeating.  My sister and I want to have a conversation with her, one that will bring change in her life but need to know if we are completely off base. 

What could we say to motivate her without hurting her and giving her the impression that we are un-sympathetic to the disease?  We highly respect the condition, but do believe that some level of activity is possible.  I’m not sure what else to say at this point so I will turn the conversation over to you.  Any input you have is appreciated.

Thank You.

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  • Posted

    Your post certainly rang a very loud bell with me.  I too am 60 and have fibro and I certainly see some of your mum in myself.  I haven’t given up completely but I have become a stay at home somewhat of a couch potato.  When in continuous pain and feeling completely exhausted after the smallest activity, its far too easy to just think – oh why bother at all.  I’ve always been active, ate healthily and had enthusiasm for life – now I am so unmotivated to do much at all because of the effort.  Like your mum my eating habits have changed too, I crave unhealthy food which I never did previously.  I feel miserable, probably depressed as well.  I guess I’m just sick of being sick which brings me down and then it’s a vicious circle.  I most definitely understand your comments about fibro being her identity.  Just the other day I was undergoing some oxygen treatment, alongside people with a range of other problems and illnesses, some of who had MS.  Not one of them mentioned their condition, even though some were wheelchair bound or with severe physical impairments, such as speech and any form of movement.  I was thinking – I should be like that instead of continually moaning about my aches and pains and clouded memory, tiredness etc etc.  Fibro is not life threatening (unless I choose it to be) but these people are just getting on with life why cant I.  Some of it I really do believe is that fibromyalgia is such a ‘grey’ area – some doctors use it to blame every ailment on, others refuse even to acknowledge its existence and I’m sure some of my obsession with it is that I need it to be recognised as something specific and get appropriate treatment.  It’s so indeterminate that we feel the need to keep going on about it just to get some acceptance and comprehension.


    As to how best to help her – very difficult one that is.  More physical activity, better diet, loss of weight, etc., will all help her tremendously but getting her motivated is a whole new ball game unfortunately.  I would recommend trying to get her to take a little step at a time – ie set a small goal and achieve it, then the success of that will maybe spur her on to better things.  Are you close to a swimming pool? A short gentle swim may hurt at first and tire her out but the following day she’ll definitely feel better and that will cheer her up.  Have a look into mindfulness classes.  It’s a form of meditation specifically adapted for pain control – it was developed in the USA for post operative pain reduction and it really works very well.  It will also help alleviate the depression.   Some types of antidepressants have been found to be beneficial for fibro sufferers – linked to the recent studies into why the brain’s pain receptors are hyper alert,  so it might be possible to discuss with her doctors getting medication that would help with both the fibro and the depression. 


    Fibro, much like depression, can become all consuming – I see my friends and family’s eyes glaze over when I reply to their ‘how are you’ with a long list of my issues – when all they really want to hear is ‘fine thank you’, we do unfortunately become self absorbed and inwardly focussed – very hard to shake that off. 


    Lastly, reading your post has made me realise I’ve sunk into a dark hole and let this fibro take me over, as you say – become my identity.  I am determined that tomorrow is a bright new day and I’m going to make my best efforts to do as much as possible to become healthier, more active and less of a whiner . Good luck hon, your mum is a lucky lady to have you.

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  • Posted

    I feel your pain, it is hard for the people who are close to suffers of this curse. Like Loxie I am a 60 + sufferer. I have been through all the stages of grieving for my past life and at present at a bit of a plateau.

    Three things that have helped are, taking a slow release melatonin tablet at night which helps some what in improving quality and length of sleep. Secondly eating simple unprocessed food, no preservatives additives or extra sugar, soya, gluten caffeine or alcohol. I have developed a love for vegetables and fruit, and non gluten grains. Seafood is great and small amounts of poultry, veal and lamb. The third thing that is keeping me positive is I am going to a sympathetic physiotherapist who understands the condition and gives me gentle exercises plus acupuncture. My goal is to graduate on to yoga. All done softly softly.

    Good luck motivating your mother, she needs a goal or something to take her mind off this curse. There is life out there but one has to just fight through the pain and pace oneself. Sigh.


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  • Posted

    Hi, jssol:

    I am 68 and I've suffered from not only fibro, but scolosis, spinal stenosis and bad knees.  I recently developed a huge prolapse, which I'm having surgery on in just a few minutes.  My lower back hurts all the time and my neuropathy is horrible.  It is so hard for me to get motivated becaue I see everyone else enjoying life, and there I am, on my bed, propped up with the tv on..no appetite...I'm not overweight, but don't eat right.  I am so tired of this pain, but I am going to try to find something that excites me.  I changed out my whole living room furniture, thinking it would make me happy, but it just gave me more comfortable furniture to sit around it...lol...I hope you can get your mom to realize that everyone loves her and wants to help...I'm alone because my husband decided to leave me for a healthy, rich woman...I have three dogs and they are my life.

    I can't go see my grown kids and grandchildren because I would have to walk up stairs.  I can't get to the top without feeling

     like I'm dying.  This is just to let you know that I know what your mom is going through...Let's all get motivated and beat this terrible disease at its own game...HUGs.

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  • Posted

    Dear Loxie, Meg53, and Carole28488,

    Forgive me, I'm going to combine my reply to everyone!  Thank you everyone for your kind, thoughtful, and heartwarming replies and nice words.  While unfortunate, I suppose it's in some way a positive piece to hear that others can agree that the pain is definitely real, and definitely a struggle.  Knowing how it affects my mother, I want to say that I'm sorry to each one of you that you endure it as well.

    I know she practices some of the recommendations you all suggested, but I will certainly suggest a few of the others to her such as the physiotherapist, swimming, and eating better.

    Thank you all again for the lovely words of kindness.  And Carole (which is also my mothers name smile - for what it's worth, three dogs are better than any man that would do that!


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    • Posted

      Good luck and please find a physiotherapist who will be gentle, with your mum we all need nurturing and positive reinforcement.
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