When it comes to discussing the effects of Fibromyalgia it seems natural to talk about symptoms and treatments. However, in this post I am going to focus on something, even harder to get your head around. The possibility that your personality might change. This is all part of the unpredictability of Fibromyalgia.
The Psychology of Personality Types
For any fans of basic psychology, it is fair to say for a long time I have been a bit of a ‘type A’ personality, I could certainly be something of a perfectionist, even though at the same time I was creative. Basically things around me need to be useful and beautiful, and well organised.
Things that make me happy include planning, organising things, creating systems and finding ways to solve problems. In practical terms, this includes having collections of matching items, using coordinating colour schemes and having a home for everything around me. I had an organised to-do list which gave me a massive buzz when I ticked things off as being done. Does all this fit with the nature of Fibromyalgia?
Life Before Fibromyalgia
Before Fibromyalgia it was quite common for me to spend a day at my day job then return home and spend a few hours working on my own projects. These included Genealogy research, paper crafting (especially card making), digital creativity, practising music and singing in my choir as a starter for ten.
Life was busy, not to mention the routine things like eating and showering. I could still manage to fit in at least four hours of my time for my own projects. For all the parents out there who are gasping and wondering how this was possible, remember I don’t have any children!
The Early Days of Fibromyalgia
A Typical Work Day
Life began to change. Mentally I was still that same person. However, I often left the office and, if work hasn’t drained me completely, drove home thinking of all the things I would like to achieve that evening. When I arrived, the reality was that, once I have driven home and climbed up the two sets of staircases to our little flatlet; I would just have time to change into comfortable clothing (usually pyjamas) and then rest.
During this time I would catch up with television programs that Michael does not watch, so I guess I was multitasking! I was having a rest and at the same time I was processing my viewing list!
A typical Evening
On a good evening, I may have been able to spend up to an hour on some sort of task. Maybe a little bit of crafting or perhaps planning a blog post or doing some Family History research. But mostly I did not have the juice left in the tank, either mentally or physically. The reality of an evening could mean the hour on the sofa. Then helping to prepare dinner (if I was able) or possibly helping to wash up.
I then ate dinner and we would watch whatever Netflix box set we were working through together, before it is time to get ready for bed. Fibromyalgia just seemed to steal my evenings, even though I worked an hour and a half less in a day than I previously used to.
A Typical Weekend
When the weekends came around, every Friday evening I would be full of ideas or plans. However, by the time I get to Sunday afternoon I had to admit that everything I hoped to do was simply not going to happen. The best thing I could do was to concentrate upon recharging my batteries to get through the next week. If I was lucky I managed a couple of hours each day on one of my projects.
The Nature of Fibromyalgia
Life is different again now. Two years ago when this blog post began I still had a career; it had reduced and my hoped for rise up the ladder had faded. But I was hanging in there. I had yet to fully experience the unpredictability of Fibromyalgia. Now I don’t even need to split my life into days, evening and weekends; they are all rather familiar, except Michael doesn’t go to work at the weekend.
A Typical Unpredictable Day
When I imagine my life in it’s later years, assuming I am blessed to live to a ripe age. I always picture waking up each day and thinking “I’m still alive then.” I now have a similar ritual of waking up and thinking “how does today feel.” I can’t say, “what hurts today then”, because that would be too simplistic. There are too many different variations of the experience pain, not to mention exhaustion levels and mental clarity. there are three typical responses. Flare, Recovery and (once in a blue moon) Energy. How my day looks depends on these. I go into detail of my option in the post Pacing Yourself with Fibromyalgia.
How Fibromyalgia Changed my Personality
For anyone who is a “Type A” personality, my life before Fibro may well resonate. Although I believe Friedman and Rosenman’s Type A and Type B theory is a bit limited. I prefer the broader Myers-Briggs Indicators. If you are interested I am an INFJ-T, I discuss this more in the post: An INFJ with Fibromyalgia. The Myers-Briggs method is less affected by the nature of Fibromyalgia also, I digress!
Whichever system you use to make the analysis, I used to be proactive and diligent. I planned everything, was a bit of a perfectionist and expected a lot of myself. The thought of just relaxing was difficult. Even on holiday I would organise sightseeing and when possible some genealogical research.
The Unpredictability of Fibromyalgia
Who would have thought that Fibro could alter my sense of self? It is one of the hardest things I have had to deal with since my health changed. Strange to think how I got used to living with pain (of course, I have medication to help with this). Not too upsetting for me to deal with Fibro Fog and the memory blanks. But rewiring my brain to slow down, to reduce the expectations I put upon myself and amend my life goals has been a complete shocker.
Talk to me
Has Fibromyalgia affected your personality? Did you use to be a Type A and have come to terms with your limitations? Drop me a comment below, I love to connect with others who have been through the same experience.