10 Tips for Living with Fibromyalgia or Another Life Changing Illness

26749-4In 2010, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that affects millions of people around the globe. The majority of them are women. As yet, there is no cure.

I had enjoyed a successful career as a natural medicines therapist and teacher, but fibromyalgia forced me to stop working for 2 years, reassess my life and embrace a new normal. I eventually left my old career behind, and retrained in organic horticulture, teaching part time in schools until recently.

My illness taught me so much, and I will share some of my most important insights. Here are a few suggestions for living with fibromyalgia or another life changing illness.

Reassessing My Values

Illness forced me to reassess my values. Health is now my number one priority, before career, relationships, finances and all else.

I’ve developed a habit of asking myself ” Will this be beneficial to my health and well being?

If not, it is not for me.

Practising Gratitude

I have kept a gratitude journal for many years, and it has helped me appreciate the good times and the not so good.

I am blessed with a warm home, running water, fresh air, food to eat, great family and friends, time in Nature, beautiful sunsets and daily miracles.

Try keeping a diary of the blessings in your life for one month, and notice any changes in your perception of life.

Learning to be proactive

A wealth of information is available online for specific health conditions. Joining a support group will invite new friendships from others who understand the challenges of your medical condition. You can then exchange tips on self help techniques and coping mechanisms.

Cultivate a Good Relationship with your Medical Team

Writing down a list of questions before visits to your doctor or consultant will ensure more positive outcomes.

I have copies of all my medical records, including blood tests, X-rays and other investigations. This keeps me informed of my progress, and allows me to remain proactive in any treatment plan.

Natural Medicines

Reflexology, Massage, Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine have all helped ease my symptoms. As a result, I no longer need pain medication.

Several natural medicines are now available through private health insurance, and some are integrated within the healthcare system. Please consult with your doctor or medical consultant about a possible treatment plan.

Embracing Creativity

I explored creative writing when I was in considerable physical pain, and it eventually led to my becoming an author and blogger!

Writing about the early death of my mother, and other major life events helped me enormously.

I have also dabbled in art, photography and decoupage.

Singing and gardening continue to be important ingredients in my healing regime. Ten minutes spent pottering in my garden transforms my day.

Avoiding Isolation

Chronic illness is life changing and it is so easy to slip into a major depression. Avoiding isolation is important for good mental health. Please share all your concerns with your doctor, family and friends.

Learning to ask for help is key to ongoing recovery.

Resting and Pacing

The most important lesson I have learned, is to listen to my body and pace myself accordingly. If I do too much, it can lead to a flare up in my condition.

Do you listen to your body when it tells you to rest? Perhaps you could treat yourself more gently.

Remembering to Exercise

Exercise is considered beneficial for many health conditions. Indeed, the body releases natural chemicals during exercise that are both analgesic and antidepressant.

However, it is important to find an exercise routine that suits you.

Some vigorous forms of exercise do not agree with my joints. However, I do find walking, gardening, aqua aerobics, chi gung and yoga enormously beneficial.

Diet and Nutrition

Eating small regular meals and avoiding processed foods aid my well being. I love to cook and make most of my meals from scratch, often creating a number of extra portions to freeze for days when I am feeling less energetic.

I have discovered some foods exacerbate my symptoms including sugar, yeast, caffeine and alcohol.

A combination of Omega 3, 6 and 9 plus vitamin D3, has helped me enormously. I also find magnesium supplements a godsend. Magnesium soothes the nervous system, relaxes muscles and aids good quality sleep.

Please consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

Brigid P. Gallagher is a retired natural medicines therapist, passionate organic gardener and author of “Watching the Daisies- Life lessons on the Importance of Slow,” a holistic memoir dedicated to the art of mindfulness and healing from debilitating illness.



  1. Morning Brigid.
    Just read your latest posting very interesting..
    Coming to Ireland on the 21st July for a couple of weeks ..Will be in touch …
    Staying at my Dad’s family home😎
    Miracles do happen….!!!
    Moved house again got a fab one now and a garden..

    Hope your well..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. So much good information in here, Brigid. I know a few folks who suffer this illness, it can be devastating. I especially like your notes on gratitude, home cooking, and the healing effects of exercise. I’m a believer !

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hello my fabulous blogging friend.
    What an incredible post. It’s such a wonderful thing to be able to share your illness and in doing so, help others with their own illness.

    I love your suggestions and I can see me visiting this blog post again – and not just once. I’m going to Bookmark this page so that I can find it easily.
    I’m also going to take up some of your ideas and make them work for me in my situation.

    Thank you for this wonderful blog post, and for sharing in the way you have.
    Have a wonderful, truly blessed day. love ~ Cobs. x ❤️ 💛 💚 💙 💜 🖤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Brigid,
    I love all the immediately tangible advice you present in this piece. You have been an early supporter of mine through my chronic illness and I embrace your sage wisdom when it comes to long term medical health issues. I shall earmark this piece as a blueprint of sorts to come back to when I forget my way.
    Thank you so much for posting this, it will have a lasting impression on me.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great Post Brigid both thought provoking and uplifting. One never knows how one would cope with a life changing illness but learning of another’s experiences is always helpful. If the time ever comes something like this makes you feel less alone and realise it is not the end.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hello Brigid,
    Thank you for such a stunning summary…it’s a lesson in a healthy life for us all.
    So happy to know so many lifestyle changes can have such an enormous impact.
    Wishing you all the very best in your continued health and wellness journey 💐💕

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Brigid, this is so helpful. I really get your dedication to your health and also your caring in sharing this information and your experience with others. Once again, I am truly touched by the beauty – and wisdom – of your heart. Thank you. Sending you blessings and love — Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This article, Brigid, is packed with truths. Unfortunately, I have a very heavy going job and I often think it isn’t doing my health any good at all. My husband and I both help support other family members though so there doesn’t seem to be much I can change or do about it now.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is such an inspirational message. Thank you so so much. I am under tremendous pain and have not been to work for 3 months now. The slow response to the treatment was bothering me and I took to blogging. I will definitely keep in mind the pointers you have shared. Thank you!

    Here’s a link to my blog if you want to give me some suggestions when you are free!


    Liked by 1 person

  10. You have such a wonderful attitude Brigid, so incredibly inspiring. Gratitude is key isn’t it? I’ve kept a Gratitude Journal for the past six years and wouldn’t be without it. Warmest wishes to you xo

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I missed this post when it came out, just found it via Twitter, yay! I just wrote a post last night about my own need to take better care of myself along with some of my coping strategies, to be published on Sunday, and some of them echo yours. A gratitude journal saved my life when I rarely made it out of my room; creativity, natural therapies, a wonderful woman who listened when I had no-one else, all these made and make such a difference. I’m glad you found ways of dealing with such a debilitating condition and we all gained from your decision to become a blogger 😊👏🏻💜

    Liked by 2 people

  12. This is wonderful, Brigid. Applicable to MANY illnesses, mental and physical – and especially important to maintain balance with mental health problems and chronic pain. Thanks so much for leaving the link. I’ll find places to add it in the Related Content of several monthly awareness calendars, where they’ll be repeated each year as long as the link works. Watch for pings through the years – lol.

    Just so you know – not everyone gets the “pending approval” notice for some strange reason, so many folks post twice because they think the first didn’t take. I’ve had to go to 100% approval due to over a million linkspam comments, according to the spam counter on my sidebar, and my hours are not anywhere NEAR standard (sleep disorder).

    I usually approve upon awakening as I sip my first cup of coffee – unless something unexpected prevents me from doing so.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”


  13. Wow Brigid, serendipidy! (got that word from you).
    Wishing you a happy and healthy new year.
    Was thinking of you the other day and wondering how you were when ‘pining’ to go to Ireland and see my folks especially since the death of my two cousins December 2019 and January 2020 when I was away in The Gambia.
    Lovely to see a timely post also from you and one that resonates with me.
    I will certainly try to revisit this post.
    Take care. (on desk top today so cannot send any daisy or shamrock e mojiis, xx:-)

    Liked by 1 person

      • Aw, didn’t realise your stepping back was due to Covid complications. Hope you are ok now.
        Good and kind idea to repost for others.
        Yes, hopefully can return to the Emerald Isle if and when able 🙏
        Take care.

        Liked by 1 person

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