Did you miss me?
This time of transition in my life has been trying to say the least. An emotional roller coaster would be a better way to describe it. One second I am excited by possibilities and the next second I am crushed with defeat. Sounds a lot like life doesn’t it?
It just so happens that a research study I was slated to participate in months ago started up last week. It is a local study on yoga and cognitive coping skills for the treatment of Fibromyalgia. I was hoping to end up in the cognitive group since I already have a good handle on the yoga, and since the trials of this past month have left me in serious need of some coping skills. Fortunately that is exactly where I ended up.
Last week was our first session and we spent most of the two hours getting to know everyone in the group. Then we proceeded on to the first of the eight Pain Coping Skills we will be learning over the course of the study. Progressive Relaxation is a guided technique. While laying or seated in a comfortable position, we followed the directive of the study leader and proceeded with a focused tightening and relaxing of targeted muscles.
Starting from our heads and working our way down, we slowly and purposefully tightened and relaxed major muscle groups. It was a controlled and relaxing exercise. Before we began we rated several of our symptoms on a sliding scale – pain, fatigue, brain fog. At the end of the exercise we were asked to rate our symptoms again.
I think everyone agreed it was relaxing and we all felt somewhat restored. But for me it did not elevate my pain. Some of my muscles that had been burning – like my upper back between my shoulder blades – did experience relief, but then other muscles where my pain was more sharp and focused seemed more painful after. It is hard to tell whether the pain actually increased from the movements or if I simply became more aware of it when the overriding burning pain subsided.
Our homework was to repeat the exercise twice a day listening to a DVD recorded by the lead researcher. My homework left me with the same experience. So I suppose I would say for me it is a good technique for burning pain, but not so good for sharp, stabbing pain.
This week we are learning a new technique, and so on throughout the eight weeks of the study. Their hope is that one, two or maybe even all eight of the skills they teach us will help us and be implemented into our daily routines. That is my hope too!
My second hope is that I will be able to continue on with the study after I have started working again. It is a possibility that it will conflict and I won’t be able to complete the eight weeks. That would be a disappointment, but I will worry about it when the time comes.
For now, I will continue on and report here what we are doing and whether or not it is helping me.
Do you have any experience with Cognitive Coping Skills/Behaviors? I would love for you to share your experience with it. Was it helpful to you? Do you continue to practice the skills you learned? Do you practice daily or do you target your practice depending on your symptoms?