A flare up is an increase of symptoms compared to your ‘normal’. With fibromyalgia your normal includes pain 24/7 so it can be harder to know when you are flaring.
They can last for any amount of time from a day to years and vary in severity. A flare up can be caused by any number of things from stress to certain foods or over exertion.
To me a flare up starts with the fatigue worsening. I wake feeling hungover only without the fun the night before. Sometimes I know I will get a flare up if I did too much the day before, but other times it seems completely random. I can’t focus on anything, words don’t come out, I stutter as my brain can’t keep up. I can barely form sentences and it makes me feel really stupid, like I’m incapable of the simplest things. Simple instructions go over my head and people have to repeat things several times for me to understand.
Then the pain worsens. The whole of my body starts to throb and ache, feeling like I’m getting flu (I normally feel like this but in a flare up it gets so much worse to the point I cannot ignore and cannot continue like normal). Sometimes I’m left bed bound but I’m almost always left house bound. If I make it to work, I can only achieve a few tasks in the day and need to stay in the office not daring to venture out.
My back plays up more than usual to the point I can’t get comfortable no matter what I try. My legs ache like I’ve run a marathon and my shoulders are tense and sore.
Other conditions are exacerbated such as my IBS and my mental health suffers too. I isolate myself which leads to further anxiety. I feel guilty and useless when I have to hold myself back from things as I strive on helping others. Work is great when I’m not doing so great but I’m still working on being more honest and taking a step back during a flare up as I just want to distract myself but it just makes it worse and last longer.
During a flare up there isn’t much I can do to stop it. I just have to let it be, medicate and stay warm. I eat comfort foods and rest as much as possible but nothing reverses it until my body starts to recover itself. I wear the softest clothes I can find and my family take care of me and remind me when I next need to take medication.