July 27, 2009

Fibromyalgia Relief Book by Miryam Ehrlich Williamson

BOOK #: 61
REASONS READ: I have FMS; Triple 999 Reading Challenge; New Authors Challenge
PUBLISHER: Walker and Company
GENRE: Health; Self-Help
RATING: 5 Stars

As most of you probably know, I have fibromyalgia syndrome. I was diagnosed in December of 2005 when I was 26 years old. As a very active college student only months before, I was shocked to learn that I had to now modify all of my activities and go on medication to ease the absolute horrible fatigue I was suffering as a new teacher (fatigue was my onset symptom.)

For those of you who do not know what fibromyalgia is it is "a condition of musculoskeletal pain and severe fatigue accompanied by nonrestorative sleep and an assortment of other symptoms that can change from one patient to the next." A whole mixed-bag o' fun. I am always reading up on new ideas for symptom relief, tips for interacting with others when I have brain fog, new remedies, new science. When you suffer from a chronic and disabling illness, it pretty much consumes your daily life.

That is why when I saw Miryam Ehrlich Williamson's The Fibromyalgia Relief Book: 213 Ideas for Improving Your Quality of Life, I picked it up and began reading it immediately. Over the course of 2 years I have read from and used almost all of the 213 techniques in this book. From tips on home modifications to how to deal with holiday stress (stress exasporates fibromyalgia symtpoms) this book has tips and techniques.

Now, as any fibromyalgia patient knows, not every technique, medicine, strategy is going to work for every patient. What works for someone is as varied as what symptoms they have and to what degree of severity they experience them. Also, fibromyalgia patients experience what is known as "flare-ups", where the person's symptoms spike sharply for a brief or an extended period of time before returning to the person's typical experience level. So, with that said, not all of the techniques and ideas in this book will work for all of us, but I am betting that everyone will find something to take away from this book.

My copy has been referred to so much the spine is broken. Here are a few of the helpful ideas and tips that I have used and that have worked for me:
  • Maintaining a sense of humor about my cognitive problems. I am forgetful, I get confused easily at times (particularly when very fatigued), and I am easily distracted (plus I have ADD). Reminding myself that everyone has memory problems and explaining myself and not taking it so seriously has really helped me to not feel depressed about it. (pg. 123)
  • Letting those around me know about my limits and my boundaries. For a long time I tried to act like nothing was wrong until I had a flare-up and then the world seemed to come spinning off of its axis because I had not let others in on what I needed ahead of time. Now I talk to my family, my friends, my boyfriend, and (as necessary) my boss and the co-workers I rely on and who rely on me each day. I let them know what my pain level is that day, what I can and cannot handle so there is no guesswork. I try hard not to dwell on my problems, but I also do not pretend they aren't there. This has improved my personal relationships tremendously. (pg. 98)
  • One problem I have is I go back and forth between insomnia and needing to sleep a lot. One of the reasons is that I don't often enter REM sleep, which is the restorative stage of sleep. One trick Williamson gave was to try white noise or relaxation music when falling asleep. I do this whenever I am having trouble falling asleep and it relaxes me and I sleep much better. Another trick she gave was to ensure my room was cool. I make sure the fan is on and I lay an extra blanket on the bed so I can regulate my temperature during the night as needed. My cat is a furnace and loves to snuggle up to me, so having the fan on low or medium helps a lot. When you get hot, you do not sleep well either. (pg. 73)
  • Another good tip was getting a physical therapist to help me design an exercise program. Exercise is beneficial to people with fibromyalgia, but it is often difficult to exercise when you are exhausted and in pain. It is also very easy to overdo exercise when you are having a good day. Overdoing it one day can lead to several days laid up in the bed, so it is good to have a plan of moderation. I designed an exercise plan with my physical therapists and doctor that includes walking, swimming, dancing, yoga, stretching, and very light hand weights and, most importantly, time limits. This program is helping me to lose weight and feel better symptom-wise without overdoing it. (pg. 145)
Williamson also discusses tips on traveling, household chores, nutrition, and battling depression that can often accompany having a chronic illness. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is suffering from fibromyalgia or who knows someone who does.

Also by Miryam Ehrlich Williamson:
Fibromyalgia: A Comprehensive Approach

Have you read or reviewed this book? What did you think? Do you have questions or comments? Please feel free to ask them below and I will answer them!


  1. Great post, and thanks for educating us about this disease. I have a close friend that suffers with it...she looks great so people just don't get it...they often think people are faking...but it is real...so nice for you to highlight it. Sounds like a must read for those with it too :)

    Happy Reading, Rebecca :D

  2. Excellent review! Thanks for sharing all those tips; they seem like they would be very helpful. I can't believe you are able to do all that exercising - that is great!!!

  3. I have insomnia and I HATE IT! I'm sorry to hear that you are sticken with this and only wish for healing in your body. Thanks so much for this enlightening post.


  4. I'm glad that you have been able to find some good tips that are working for you!

  5. It's great that this book could help you out some. I have a good friend with fibromyalgia and I know it can be difficult to deal with.

  6. My mother-in-law has fibro, so I think I'll tell her about this book.

    I have a sleep disorder where I go back in forth between not being able to sleep, and sleeping all day. I don't get REM sleep either, so I'm glad to know about the white noise trick!

  7. You've really given this book an in-depth review, by "testing" it over 2 years. Good to know that the tips have provided some relief to you!

  8. Kelly- Yes, it is often what they call an "invisible disease" because the symptoms are so often on the inside.

    Rhapsody- Exercise helps the symptoms, but it is hard to get into it when you are in pain in the first place and if you overdo it, you are in the bed for days.

    Sheri- Thank you. I hate to hear you have insomnia. No fun. I hope you can find relief.

    Nicole- Thank you, Nicole! I hope it can help someone else, too!

    Kathy- Thanks. It is great when you can find friends who are understanding. She is lucky to have you.

    J.T.- Sorry to hear about your mother-in-law! I hope this book can help her, too. Let me know how the white noise trick works for you!

    Dawn- Yes, I guess I have. Did not look at it that way. But having actually tried all of the tips in this book, I can say with certainty that there will be tricks in it to help everyone. Thanks!

  9. I have fibro as well and had not heard of this book, but will be getting it soon. I am on one of my insomnia cycles right now, which drives me crazy. I have discovered that white noise helps alot.

    Thanks for a great review to a hopefully helpful resource.

  10. One more book to add to my "to-read" list. Thanks for the thorough review. Just discovered your blog, and am looking forward to digging in! Hope you well today.

  11. I'm glad to see these kinds of books reviewed. There are a lot of people, including family and friends who can benefit from them. I got FM and CFS after a transplant 20 years ago. I'm quite disabled between that and other medical problems so I know how wildly different every day, or even every hour can be for you and others with this problem. Having a book blog is a helpful distraction for us I think. I marvel at how much you do really.
    I'm reluctant to talk about my problems so I admire those brave enough to. Thanks for an encouraging post and take care of yourself.


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