Young mom shares her best tips for managing fibromyalgia in new book

This article was originally published on NationalPainReport.com and is being republished here with permission from the editor. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. 

Young mom shares her best tips for managing fibromyalgia in new book | Fed Up with Fatigue

Over the years, I’ve read thousands of books and articles about fibromyalgia and how to treat it. My favorites have always been those written by my fellow fibro warriors who share their firsthand accounts of what’s worked for them and what hasn’t. That’s why I loved Melissa Reynolds’ newest book, “Melissa vs. Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia” so much.

Melissa Reynolds, author of "Melissa vs. Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia" | Fed Up with Fatigue

Melissa Reynolds, author of “Melissa vs. Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia”

Named after her blog, the book chronicles Melissa’s journey with fibromyalgia and the treatments and strategies she’s used over the years to better manage her symptoms. I recently had a chance to interview Melissa about her latest book and her life as a young mom with fibromyalgia. I hope you enjoy our interview.

Donna: In one of the opening chapters of “Melissa vs. Fibromyalgia,” you wrote, “You are your advocate, medical coordinator, cheerleader and guru. You need to guide your doctor. … Your doctor can only take you so far.” Would you elaborate on what you meant by that?

Melissa: Living with fibromyalgia, I have learnt that our decisions, the ones we make every day, have a huge impact on our quality of life. I have also learnt that sometimes the doctors are not willing or able to help you. The more involved you are, the more you learn, the more power you have over your quality of life.

My health has improved dramatically since I took over the fight for myself. No doctor had been particularly helpful prior to that. Now I do have a doctor willing to fight with me, but I still have to do the work, take him the research and lead the way. Only I can properly experiment with what helps me. There are so many things we can do that are outside the purview of a usual doctor that if we waited for them to tell us about them, we’d be waiting forever. Things like meditation, yoga, even healthy eating seem to be outside of what a doctor will suggest! Yet these have helped me enormously.  

I’m sure you know I’m a big fan of low-dose naltrexone (LDN). It helps so many people with fibromyalgia. Can you share your experience with LDN and how it’s helped you?

I am just about to write up my one-year review of the experiment. It has changed my life. It is not a miracle cure – I still implement a lot of the same pain-management techniques and live in a limited box – but my quality of life is hugely better.

The biggest area it has helped me with is sleep! For more than 10 years, I have been on amitriptyline, and it is the only thing that can help me get any sleep but even then I was never sleeping more than one hour at a time. That was rarely completing a sleep cycle. Since I began LDN I can sleep two, three, four or even five-hour blocks at times! I believe all of the other benefits stem from this. Sleep is now healing for me. I fight with my neck less. I am able to move more. I am able to do more. I was able to travel to Hawaii for the first time, and I was so grateful the entire time at how well I coped.

Sleep is usually one of the biggest struggles for those with fibromyalgia. You shared a bit about your own sleep issues in your book, and you mentioned your use of sleep hygiene. What is sleep hygiene, and how does it help improve the disordered sleep associated with fibromyalgia?

Sleep hygiene are little things you can do that can help you to sleep. There are many reasons we have trouble sleeping. For some, the circadian rhythm can be off, or we can have one of several sleep disorders. I seem to be unable to stay asleep.

There are so many sleep hygiene tips that we must choose some we are willing to enact every day and that help us. I find the routine around bedtime to be helpful. My body knows it is bedtime, and I have cued myself to fall asleep easier. I will take my medicines at the set times (LDN has made a huge difference for me; I can’t even gush enough), rub some essential oil pain cream on my neck and back, hop into bed with my heat pack on my neck, read for a little while, then I will do a body-scan meditation and be off. When I wake in the night, I repeat the body-scan meditation.  

In your book, you talk about the importance of maintaining passion in life. Can you elaborate on why that’s important for those with fibromyalgia?

We deserve fun. We deserve to have hobbies. We deserve to have things to live for even though we can’t quite get all of the normal life things done. I love reading and writing, so I have figured out ways to make these doable. We would lose steam and hope pretty quickly if we didn’t have passion for something. There are so many things we can do. It is much more uplifting to think on what we can do.  

"Melissa vs. Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia" includes author Melissa Reynolds' best tips and treatments for managing fibromyalgia. | Fed Up with Fatigue

“Melissa vs. Fibromyalgia: My Journey Fighting Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue and Insomnia” includes author Melissa Reynolds’ best tips and treatments for managing fibromyalgia.

You mentioned the “black dog” of fibromyalgia in your book. What is that, and what is your advice for managing it?

That little black cloud of anger, sadness, grief and all of the other emotions that stem from having a limiting illness. My No. 1 thing that I do is journal it out. I don’t have a lot of people in real life to talk to about what I am going through, so I write it down. Connection is also important, and humans tend to be social creatures, even those of us who are introverts. We don’t need to add loneliness to all of those difficult emotions. So I have created a little list of people that I can turn to, and I have a few Facebook groups that I am part of. It all makes a difference.

Before “Melissa vs. Fibromyalgia,” you published a book on managing fibromyalgia during pregnancy and while nursing. Why did you feel it was important to cover that topic?

When I was pregnant in 2013, there was such a void of information. I was in a lot of pain, exhausted, and no one had any answers for me, not even the doctors! I began writing my blog during this time so that I didn’t feel quite so alone. I then formulated some tips based on my experience. When I was pregnant again in 2016, I had experience, there was some emerging information and I had my pre-formulated tips. I enacted these and had a much nicer pregnancy. I wanted to share this with other women so that they weren’t doing it alone like I did. I’ve written both of my books hoping that they provide a shortcut for others to the years of experience and research I had to endure to get some help.

What is the most important lesson (or lessons) fibromyalgia has taught you?

How to be a compassionate and grateful person. I have such empathy for others’ experiences, and I am profoundly grateful for all that is good in my life. I have learnt that health is a gift, not a right, and so I appreciate that.

How can people connect with you if they’d like to learn more about you and your work?

I blog at www.melissavsfibromyalgia.com. There are over 170 blog posts with two resources pages – one for pregnancy and one for fighting fibromyalgia – so I hope something there helps people in their fight.

Those who want to come and chat pregnancy, nursing and early parenting with fibromyalgia can come and join our Facebook group, “Pregnancy and Fibromyalgia.” 

Both of Melissa’s books – “Melissa vs. Fibromyalgia” and “Pregnancy & Fibromyalgia” – are available for purchase on Amazon. 


  1. Hi my name is jackie im a 43yr old woman and have 3 children . I was diagnosed with fibro 4yrs ago and to be honest i did not have a clue about it . There was no explanation from my doctor of what it was or how bad this horrible illness can actually be so i spent the first three years just plodding along feeling tired and ill all the time which made me fall into a deep depression so i barely leave the house and so on top of all that the feeling of guilt that i carry for my children is overwhelming . I decided to go on sick as i found it impossible to function or focus on anything but when i had to attend a medical i failed it and was told by “registered nurse ” that i was well enough to work as i showed no physical signs of illness and the fibro was completely overlooked so i returned to my doctor for help to be told he would not issue me with a sick note or help me fight my appeal he had me in tears everytime i went which then gave me a phobia of going to the doctor i spent 6 months appealing only to be told ther is nothing wrong with me and so i had to go bk on job seekers to then go bk on sick so i did this only to be told again that even tho i have fibro and have severe depression and in constant pain that i must appeal once again i started writing my appeal and then just gave up i have had no money from the DWP since before christmas my health has deteriorated so much since 2016 and i am so depressed and exhausted that i all i do is sit at home feeling useless helpless and yes a little sorry for my self . I have absolutely no faith in any of the authorities ie doctors nurses the DWP the council nobody . I am lucky to have a very supportive partner who has to be with 24/7 as i feel i cannot cope without him . He gives me regular massage to my legs and hips and reads up on anything and everything to do with fibro hes amazing actually . But me i used to be so outgoing a dancer a dance teacher had lots of friends and confidence and now i am none of those things . Im sorry for the negativity i am portraying and believe me i really dont like myself right now but i cannot seem to pull myself out of it and pretending all the time that im fine and il be ok is exshausting and so i have given up sad i know and after following you for a while now and hearing the success stories on your page makes me want to go and scream at all the people who are supposed to help me but have let me down ” i cant do this on my own please take me seriously i am dying inside . I have only just bn prescribed after all this time with zapain for the pain they dont work duloxotene for depression not helping amytriptaline to help sleep and also popropanol for anxiety nothing works please dont think of me as weak or unwilling i have just given up hope and am in a tunnel with no light at the end thankyou you and your site are the reason i want to start taking a stand i just dont kno where to begin thankyou jackie johnson

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I would start here: https://fedupwithfatigue.com/fibromyalgia-doctors/

      And even though you were diagnosed four years ago, there is a lot of good info in this article too: https://fedupwithfatigue.com/newly-diagnosed-fibromyalgia/

      • Hi DONNA I was diagnosed about 4 years ago with fibromyalgia by my primary dr. I wanted to ask and then tell you what happed me me actually I’m still dealing with it can’t seem to shake it. One week and a half ago I had an epidural steroid put into my lower back for my sciatica problem. I have have lower back problems like degenerative disc and things then when I was diagnosed with fibro it seem like my sciatica started .. so 4 days after the shot my body just gave out the fatigue,pain, blood pressure sweating,my Bowels went crazy I couldn’t keep nothing in if I tried nor could I get out of bed .i realize some are side effects of the steroids but I feel as though this shot put my fibro on full force after I experienced the trauma of that shot .. my question is this possible ? And has anyone ever experienced this in any way ..if anyone is out there what did you do to start to feel better .. thank you for listening and I sure hope you or someone can shed some light on this

        • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

          Well, my short answer is pretty much anything can happen where fibro exists, lol. However, the epidural shot *shouldn’t have* caused that b/c they inject a tiny amount and it is supposed to stay w/in the small area of the injection site in order to provide the most relief from inflammation. I’ve had several of those shots myself b/c I have a bulged disc in my lower back. Just FYI: Generally the research doesn’t show these injections are very effective, but doctors push them b/c they are lucrative for their practices. I’ve had three – first one helped for about a month. Second one did nothing. Third one actually made the pain worse and I ended up having surgery. I would recommend the book “Crooked” : https://amzn.to/2Ii6syD The author has back pain and is an investigative journalist and wrote a book about how the back pain industry pushes ineffective treatments and then she covers what actually works for relieving back pain. It’s a very helpful book!


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