Managing my fibromyalgia is much like balancing my bank account. Days of rest and self-care are deposits building up the balance of energy and wellness. Events, travel, work, and the like are withdrawals from that reserve. As long as the withdrawals don't cause an overdraft, life is copacetic (relatively speaking). When the reserve is overdrawn, symptoms flare and my body is on the verge of bankruptcy. It's a tenuous balance.
On the surface it may seem straight forward: engage in self-care as much as possible and limit events and activities that dwindle that balance down. In reality, this is incredibly difficult to manage, at least for me. I have a demanding and fast-paced job that at times requires travel and long hours. That's an obvious source of big withdrawals from my energy reserve. Many other activities aren't so obviously solely a debit or a credit. For example, my family lives 1/2 way across the country so traveling to see them for holidays takes a physical toll on me. Debit. However, being with my family for the holidays fills me with love and happiness and recharges my soul in a way that only family can. Credit. Friends might invite me to go out downtown for dinner and drinks on a Saturday night. It's fun to catch up with friends and try out a great new restaurant and enjoy the city atmosphere for a night. Credit. But how far will I have to walk from the parking garage to the restaurant? If we go for drinks will I be able to sit down, or will I need to stand for the whole time? That will exhaust me and cause pain in my ankles, knees, and low back that may last for days. Debit. Trade-offs. Balance.
It's almost never a straightforward choice. I do my best to build up my reserve with the things that I know nourish me and keep me feeling well so that I can withstand the things I know will drain me (like work), but also so that I can do more of those things that fall in between. Sometimes I manage the balance well and I'm able to do normal 30 year old things on the weekends with friends. Other times I fall extremely short, over do it, overdraft the accounts. In those times I then hole up at home and have to say no to all non-essential activities while I slowly tend to myself and build my wellness reserve back up.
It's an imperfect arithmetic for sure, but thinking about it in this frame work has helped me be more mindful of the impact activities are having on my health, and striving for a positive balance in the account has helped me better manage my symptoms over time.