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Chronic Illness: Newly Diagnosed And Learning How To Manage Pain?

Pain is ready, pain is waiting
Primed to do its’ educating    DEPECHE MODE, “Dream On”

Following a diagnosis of fibromyalgia in 2002 it took me a while to accept my circumstances and to make changes.

I’d been resistant, in spite of having the necessary knowledge to make my life better. But eventually I started to manage my symptoms and I felt a semblance of control.

The symptom causing me most problems was mental cloudiness/confusion. I was on several medications for depression and pain control. Working with my psychiatrist and family physician we reviewed my meds and came up with a suitable medication plan. I soon started to see improvements.

Next I addressed the issue of fatigue. An occupational therapist completed an assessment and suggested techniques like pacing and journaling. I used energy saving devices in the kitchen and safety devices like grab bars in the bathroom. Once again, positive things started to happen.

But I still had a great deal of pain. What to do?

The Plan

Manage Symptoms


When I was fatigued my body ached. Nothing seemed to relieve this. I wasn’t able to concentrate. The only thing I could do was lie down or sit in a recliner. I wasn’t very good company.

The more time I spent lying in bed the more depressed I got. Things were tense at home.

So I got out of bed. I started to do muscle stretches, strengthening and cardio exercises. I went for walks and I called my friends. They visited and we went on short outings. Walks to the park and the beach with my son became part of our routine. It was good for the body, mind and the spirit.

Then I began practicing the relaxation techniques I learned at the Fibromyalgia Program in London, Ontario. The total body scan was helpful even for trigeminal neuralgia. This worked well when I was having a painful episode. I was able to tune out exterior noise and focus on relaxing the muscles of my face.

I had already introduced pacing and that made a difference in my pain levels. I was using a timer so I didn’t overextend myself when doing household tasks.

I began taking pain medication before the pain got unmanageable. It was more effective and I was sleeping better.


Having implemented all of these changes I was feeling better. But I realized that I would have to manage my mental condition, fatigue and pain each day in order to live a quality life. It was mind-boggling!

How could I do this?

I organized my medications in a daily pill container that I purchased for a couple of dollars at a discount store. No more forgetting my meds!

I kept a daily journal to monitor my symptoms. It was also useful to write down my feelings. This made it easier to communicate with my family too.

All of the documentation regarding physicians’ appointments was organized in a binder system so that it was readily available.

I kept a calendar in a central location so that all of the family knew what appointments I had and I knew what the family had scheduled. This way we could prevent overlap and misunderstandings.

I tried to rest when the children were at school so I was awake when they got home.

These are just some of the things I start to do to improve my life. Since then I have learned so much more.


I’ve been managing these chronic illnesses for 16 years. Staying on track has given me a sense of control. Along the way I’ve stumbled, and I’m okay with that. I’ve learned new things.

I am looking forward to sharing my journey with you.


Other than medication, what strategy do you use to control pain?



Chronic Illness: Newly Diagnosed And Learning How To Manage Pain?

Sharen Skelly

Sharen Skelly is a retired Registered Nurse from Ontario, Canada. She has a diploma in Nursing from Algonquin College and a Certificate in Community Nursing from Sir Sandford Fleming College. Despite diagnoses of fibromyalgia, trigeminal neuralgia, rheumatoid arthritis and depression, Sharen lives a productive life. She is a host and community producer at Rogers TV, Grey County and a freelance writer. In addition, she is a peer leader/community health educator with the South West Ontario Local Health Integration Network, Self-Management Program for people with chronic conditions/chronic pain developed by Stanford University. A single mother of 2 grown children, what Sharen likes to do most is spend time with her family and friends. Follow Sharen on Psych Central at Chronic Illness Conversations.

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APA Reference
Skelly, S. (2018). Chronic Illness: Newly Diagnosed And Learning How To Manage Pain?. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 26, 2019, from


Last updated: 2 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Jul 2018
Published on All rights reserved.