My Story: Sheri Leland

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What were the steps leading up to your diagnosis?

It started with the Epstein-Barr virus in 2005. When it wouldn’t go into remission my doctor called it chronic fatigue syndrome. Two years later I started to have severe muscle pain. When I finally saw a rheumatologist in 2007 I got the diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

What lifestyle changes have you needed to make?

I have actually had to change everything. I try to live in the solution rather than live in the problem like I used to. I exercise, but not too much, I set an alarm to wake up every day at the same time, and I’ve changed what I eat. Instead of isolating myself I make sure I surround myself with family and friends who support me. Although I have tried many homeopathies I take Cymbalta, which does help quite a bit.

Who has been there for you? How?

My family, by getting informed about fibromyalgia and understanding when I have down days. My friends, who love me no matter what and are not judgmental of my condition.

What accomplishment are you proud of?

I no longer sleep 15 hours a day. I have maintained my sobriety for 29+ years, despite of all I have gone through. I continue to go to my recovery meetings, where I share about my condition, but don't whine about it. By doing that I have had other women who have been recently been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia come approach me and have asked how I have dealt with it and have maintained such a positive attitude.

I try to live in the solution rather than live in the problem like I used to.

Don't isolate yourself. Find friends and family who you trust.

Don't isolate yourself. Find friends and family who you trust.

What's your advice to someone else living with Fibromyalgia?

Don't isolate yourself. Find friends and family who you trust, who won't judge you about your condition. Make small goals for yourself, like exercising and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Don't be ashamed, as this is a real condition. Don't lay in bed all day – it makes you depressed. Rather, get out of the house for at least a hour a day to go for a short walk, have coffee with a friend, run errands, etc. But don't beat yourself up on the days that you have to rest.

It’s true fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are not life-threatening illnesses, but they will suck the life out you if you let them. You have to make a decision that you're going to fight this syndrome the best that you can.

Don't beat yourself up on the days that you have to rest.

Is there anything else we should know?

I have overcome many obstacles while enduring fibromyalgia. I am a proud member of Alcoholics Anonymous, with 29+ years of sobriety. It's the best decision I ever made. As well as having fibromyalgia, I have overcome melanoma and had life-saving surgery for a rapid lung infection that nearly killed me. Basically no matter what I have gone through I haven't given up, and I always seem to land on my feet.

About Sheri Leland

My Story: Sheri Leland

I'm not focusing on the fibromyalgia; I'm focusing on the solution. For so many years I laid in bed, sleeping 15 hours a day, until I woke up one morning and I told myself "enough." I have my bad days, but I also have days when I feel like these are the best moments of my life.

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