Home » Adult ADD / ADHD » Ok, Ok, I Get It: Exercise! . . . and . . . ADD and Fibromyalgia’s Effects on Balance, Connectedness Between Mind and Body
September 23, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

Ok, Ok, I Get It: Exercise! . . . and . . . ADD and Fibromyalgia’s Effects on Balance, Connectedness Between Mind and Body

This happens a lot, in my life.  When there is something I’m really supposed to know or address, it keeps popping up everywhere, again and again.  In conversations (either between myself and others or in overheard conversations), in articles or blog posts I stumble on when searching for something else, on TV.  I can ignore it over and over, but eventually I have to pay attention.

I know that exercise would be hugely beneficial for everything I deal with, from the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue to the ADD and the PMDD, and of course for my weight.  I know this.  It’s just that I have this . . . block . . . about actually doing it.

There is a fear component there.  It’s partly based on knowledge gained from past experience, that the wrong type of exercise (or the right type, done wrong) can bring on a Fibro flare and set me back rather than moving me forward.  It’s also partly based on emotional triggers from childhood (about bullying in school and my lack of athletic ability and physical fitness), which I’ve dealt with quite a bit in therapy (and out) and which shouldn’t wield the same power they once did.

There is also, at this point, the fact that I haven’t started and therefore haven’t established any routine or habit, so it doesn’t occur to me to start.

Then there is timing.  I think it would be a set-up for failure if I tried to start exercising during my PMDD time (two weeks of every four, generally; sometimes a bit longer) or when my Fibro is flared, because this is when the fatigue is so magnified and walking from one room to another makes me feel as if I’ve been working out, or taking a shower feels like a day’s work before I’ve even begun my day.  If I started, say, on the first “good” day after the PMDD symptoms start backing off, I’d have, theoretically, two weeks to get used to incorporating regular exercise into my routine.  Two weeks to feel the initial benefits, which, according to what I keep reading, may actually lesson some of those other symptoms when they come around again, though that level of results may take longer than two weeks.

I keep planning to start at that point, but then I have a Fibro flareup, or I forget (see paragraph 4), or I’m simply scared out of it.

Everything, everything, though, keeps pointing to the fact that regular exercise seems to be the big thing I haven’t given a fair try.  I research supplements and food issues endlessly, and I find answers that are helpful, but I’m never quite “there” as far as really feeling good and functioning well a majority of the time.

I’m doing markedly better than I was a year ago, and a year ago I was doing a lot better than a couple years before that, but I want more.  I want more good days back-to-back.  I want for my bad days to be the exception.  I want, as I told SS last night, to feel well enough of the time that I stop doing the “assessing” thing, continually monitoring how I’m feeling physically and emotionally and how well I am (or am not) functioning at work and in my daily life.  I want to stay on top of the things that I need to do (housework type things, errands, appointments, bill-paying, phone calls and correspondence, work, my web design jobs) well enough that it is second nature and not an accomplishment to be proud of if I manage not to fall too far behind.

Now, this may seem like a change-of-topic, but it will all tie together and make sense by the end . . .

I noticed, when I was visiting SS, that I was very “physically tentative”.  I get that way, sometimes, but hadn’t completely figured out why, until now.

I’ve always had a tendency to live life in my head more than in the physical world.  I’ve never been comfortable in my body.  I’ve never been athletic or coordinated.

Years ago, I had a friend who used to make a joke when she would try to say something and get fumbled on the word pronunciation: she would say, “Sorry.  Rented lips.”

Sometimes I’m tempted to say, “Sorry.  Rented body,” when I do something like fall off my feet while standing still, “I’ve only had this body for 46 years and I haven’t completely learned how to operate it yet”.

The “physical tentativeness”, though, while always there to a degree, gets worse at times, and it affects everything I do.  It makes me more hesitant when climbing stairs, walking on an uneven surface, stepping on one of those “people mover” belt things (like an escalator, only flat); they have them at the Philadelphia airport, and each time I had to step onto it, I felt the adrenaline rush and held my breath.  I even drink out of a plastic cup most of the time because I’m afraid of dropping and breaking a glass.  (Whenever my Fibro is flared, I can’t seem to hold onto things properly; I drop the soap several times while trying to get through one shower.)

In late 2007, I was going to the gym pretty regularly for a while, walking on the treadmill.  I noticed that I always felt somewhat off-balance and had to hold onto the handrail because I was afraid of falling.  Some days this was worse, other days it began to be a little bit better, but it was always there.  I actually stopped going after three incidents that petrified me: one was when the treadmill I was using started to pick up speed all by itself and I was scrambling to keep up and not fall, and two other times, the belts slipped while I was walking.

I looked back to my old diary and re-read some entries from that time.  Here is part of one:

knowing why i am unbalanced
Thursday, Dec. 06, 2007 4:41 pm

I’ve never been especially steady on my feet. I was never athletic. As a kid, I was always tripping over my own feet, and as an adult, I can be standing perfectly still, talking to someone, and suddenly stumble backwards. I always have at least one bruise on one of my arms from walking into doorways, and at least one bruise on one of my legs from walking into furniture. I just figured I’m clumsy because I was never athletic, and that the stumbling backwards thing was from being overweight, since I know that being overweight can affect a person’s center of balance.

Well, I’ve noticed, since I’ve been walking on the treadmill semi-regularly for a little while now, that some days I feel less steady than other days. I always have to hold onto the hand rails. I look at some of the other women there, and they’re walking without holding on, pumping their arms or reading or drinking water while they walk, and I’ve been in awe of them, thinking *Sigh.* Someday. Someday I’ll lose enough weight, or get more used to the treadmill, or get in better shape, or whatever it takes to feel steady enough to let go and drink water while I walk.

But some days, I can loosen my grip on the hand rails and feel ok about it. I haven’t quite let go yet, but not having to hold on so tight is a huge relief, since my hands ache easily.

And then there are the other days . . .

Yesterday was one of the “other” days. Those are the days where I know if I walk even one tenth of a mile an hour faster, I’ll surely fall on my face. And I don’t walk fast to begin with, yet. If you are a regular reader here, you know that already. Yesterday, someone was hanging a poster on the wall to the side of me, and when I turned to look and see what was on the poster, I almost went down. When I’m done walking, I hold onto the side rail and move very slowly when I step down off the treadmill, and I know I must look like an idiot to other people, but whatever. I’ve learned that it’s better to let people think what they think and still get some exercise than it is to shrink away and not do anything.

At that time, I had realized (remembered) that Fibromyalgia can have a big effect on balance.  (In fact, going back to my old diary entries, I found the complete list of Fibromyalgia symptoms that I was looking for when I wrote this post.

This is the part of the list that applies to this:


  • Feeling spatially disoriented
  • Disequilibrium (balance difficulty)
  • Staggering gait (clumsy walking; bumping into things)
  • Dropping things frequently
  • Difficulty judging distances (e.g. when driving; placing objects on surfaces)
  • “Not quite seeing” what you are looking at

I emailed my therapist last week after I saw her and we had discussed some of the tentativeness stuff, and I said:

I have noticed, before, that when my chemistry is off, I feel more disconnected from my body than usual.  As if I can’t trust that I know where to put my foot, for instance, and my coordination and balance are off.  I’ve always been pretty tentative about physical movement – I’ve had people laugh and say I’m so “girly” (for example, once, years ago, I went canoeing with friends and they laughed because we were in shallow water, walking on rocks, and I was taking little baby steps, afraid I would slip and fall, and they called me “girly”), but it’s not really about being girly; it’s just about feeling very unsure of my step or my balance.  Always.  But sometimes worse than usual.

I was light-headed a lot while I was in NJ, and that’s not uncommon for me, either during hormonal times or when the Fibro is flared, and that adds to the uncertainty in movement.  I had this nagging fear, while I was there, that I was going to fall down her stairs and die.  I know it sounds weird, but it was there, in my mind, every time I went near the stairs.  I was really careful how I went up and down the steps, because on the way down I normally put the back of my foot/ankle against the back of the step I’m stepping down from, to steady myself and assure myself that I have a solid footing, but of course the back of my left ankle was hurt and so I didn’t want to put it against the step.  What finally happened was that I did fall, but I had a hold of the banister so I didn’t go far, and after that the fear of falling was less intense (but didn’t go away completely).

By the time I’d finished the email, I had come to the conclusion (again) that exercise would probably be helpful for me to feel more “connected” to my body.  After I sent the email, I did some googling, and found this, about Pilates for Fibromyalgia.  (Notice, in the 11th paragraph, where it says, “A strong tendency for those suffering from Fibromyalgia is to ‘disconnect’ from their body. Pilates’ emphasis on the connection of the mind to the body, can also be a huge benefit. . . ”

And, then, I found this and this, about balance and coordination issues in ADHD.

And I found this, also, about body/mind connection, ADHD, and Yoga, where the author says, “My personal experience with taking yoga thus far is that there is plethora of potential for any participant to develop a better mind/body connection.  And isn’t this one of the issues of ADHD is that one feels a disconnect from mindfulness and the physical actions of the body?”

I guess I don’t need to be hit over the head with a board.  Ok, well, apparently I do, but I need to let this be my board.

I started looking for Yoga or Pilates classes in FL and NJ that are geared toward people with Fibromyalgia, and I found a couple possibilities.  I’m going to look further into it and give it a try.

Tentatively, as the case may be; baby steps . . .

One Comment

  1. Comment by lifeischange:

    Oh wow, after I posted this, I saw these two posts on Fibromyalgia Haven’s blog (I’ve been so behind in my blog reading):

    Find the Space Between Pleasure and Pain, and Rest There

    Why I Love Yoga, and Why You Will Too

    Now I’m getting more excited about starting this.


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