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Fibromyalgia and my Road to Recovery

Fybromyalgia-Road-to-Recovery

Posted by Mary on Friday 06 July 2012 in the Blog Category.

Some illnesses arrive dramatically, others slowly, like stealthy Vampires gradually draining the life blood of their victims. Fibromyalgia quietly entered my life circa 1999, in the form of obscure aches and pains, sleepless nights and endless fatigue. I had my blood tested for nutrient deficiencies and paid endless visits to medics and specialists in search of answers. Yet none were forthcoming until I finally got a diagnosis in 2002.

While it was a relief to have my ailment acknowledged, no effective solution to treating the condition existed and I continued to suffer for many years. At my worst I could not drive a car because of chronic sciatica. On some occasions, my weight plummeted to way below my body mass index and I was too weak and stiff to put a foot out of bed. I could barely walk around the house, never mind take the type of regular exercise recommended for a woman heading for the twilight years of pre- menopause and rapidly diminishing oestrogen. Temporary relief came from visits to Osteopaths, massage therapists and acupuncturists, though sometimes I ended up in more pain after a treatment than before.

As someone who was always prone to anxiety, I became increasingly fretful as to what the future might bring. Would the condition develop into arthritis, leaving me crippled and confined to a wheelchair in five or maybe ten years time? It was a viable concern since both my Grandfathers had spent their later years bed ridden with rheumatoid arthritis. I was also racked by guilt that I could not be the spontaneous fun loving mother I wished to be for my children, since it was more or less impossible to plan events, given the episodic nature of how chronically ill I could be on occasion. Needless to say that kind of negative thinking based on fear and guilt only served to worsen how I felt. But when you feel sick and miserable it’s not easy to change your perspective and suddenly turn yourself into a chirpy vessel for positive thoughts and endless joie de vivre.

Yes there’s the school of thought that says “Fake it till you make it” – meaning fake a smile to release endorphins and then you suddenly begin to feel better with happy chemicals floating around your body. It’s true to a certain extent but we can end up denying all the negative stuff of our lives in the process. And that is exactly where the root of my problem lay: – I had been denying my feelings since I was a child, often in the hope of pleasing adults. That resulted in me stuffing down every uncomfortable thought or sensation as soon as it reared its head in the hope of being processed in a healthy manner. I had to learn the hard way that whenever we deny or suppress emotions, they will eventually find a different mode of expression, often through pain in our bodies. I was afraid of difficult feelings like fear, anger, sadness and loneliness because I thought they would overwhelm me and define who I was as a person.

Anger especially is frowned upon in women. Have you ever noticed the way an angry woman is described in our culture?

“Oh she’s hysterical.”

“She’s irrational.”

The list is endless, but the one thing you will be aware of is that those two words are rarely if ever used to describe an angry man. There is a similar taboo with expressing grief or sadness and children are told from an early age to dry their tears and cheer up: – this is where men usually get a harder rap than women. As for loneliness… forget it. Loneliness has connotations of failure and being un -loveable, despite the fact that the most popular girl with five thousand face – book friends can be silently wallowing in the quiet belief that nobody understands her despite her outer show of popularity and success.

I have learnt to make friends with my emotions and to view them as transient.

Like the waves of the sea, they are part of who I am but they do not define me, since we are all bigger than the sum of our parts. That doesn’t mean I find them easy; the tougher ones always appear to hang around a while longer like un -invited gatecrashers keeping me from more favoured guests at a party. Occasionally they even turn into dark nights of the soul. The gate crashing bogies have however taught me lessons in humility, patience and empathy. More than anything else they have thought me self acceptance is preferable to perfection. Kindness begins with treating our selves in a gentle manner and the journey to wellness begins with self awareness.

My recovery from fibromyalgia is an ongoing process. Instead of shutting down my life, it continues to open doors onto beautiful meadows. I can now find joy and healing in a sunset, a poem by Neruda and many other wonderful every day events. I have become the observer of my mind; catching my thoughts whenever they bring me away from the present moment into projected fears for my future or regrets of the past. I have learnt the importance of giving gratitude daily for my health and peace of mind. Learnt to love life and cherish my body as the temple of my heart and soul.

I now embrace each new day and view my feelings as an inner guide towards a more fulfilling life, connecting me to every other sentient being on our planet. My ability to take an energetic three mile nature walk is evidence that miracles do happen. It has been said we can only let our illness go when we begin to see the gift it brings. Perhaps the Vampire will yet prove to have been a fairy Godmother in disguise.

I welcome comments on this post.

 

Note: Image copyright Paul Bates at http://paulbates.com

15 responses to “Fibromyalgia and my Road to Recovery”

  1. Your reaction to your illness and this post make you the fairy Godmother in my eyes. I love this particularly: “I have learnt to make friends with my emotions and to view them as transient.” All of our feelings and experiences can be gifts. Thanks for being a prime example!

    As you may know, gentle nutrition can also help manage fibromyalgia. A whole foods-based diet, rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, whole grains and healthy fat sources (fish, nuts, seeds, avocado…), and limited in refined grains, added sugars, fried foods and animal fats, can help minimize pain and inflammation. Eating balanced meals and snacks, containing protein and complex carbohydrates, and eating every 2 to 4 hours can help with anxiety and fatigue.

    Thanks for sharing your journey with us. Women like you help debunk those hysterical myths (pun intended! ;)). If I can support you in any way, please consider me a resource.

  2. Paul Reinig says:

    Mary, your sharing here reveals how wise you are, for you are aware of perhaps the most important thing a human can be – that we are the creators of our emotions and that all they really want is our acceptance and compassion. As the creator, we know deep down that all is well. Our emotional aspects need/want to know this as well. Thus, we are the ones who are responsible to let them know by embracing them with compassion. This releases thier energetic ties to us and, as you have experienced, this allows for any physical symptoms that thier stuck energy may have caused to be released. Health is something we can have by simply choosing it and compassion and appreciation are necessary ingrediants within such choice. You obviously have both. Bravo for being a wonderful example of what we are capable of acheiving!

  3. Mary says:

    August, you are so right about the need to eat every 2 to 4 hours. With fybromyalgia there can be a sudden slump in energy. Refined sugars instantly cause a flare up of candida with coated tongue within 24 hours. Your nutritional advice is always inspiring. Thank you so much for your kind words and support.

  4. Mary says:

    Paul, I had another ah – ha moment after reading your blog earlier in the week. You write so fluently on the topic of integrating emotions.
    I agree it is important to embrace our feelings with compassion and as you say release thier energetic ties to us. We often forget that emotions are energy in motion and need to move through us. If we resisit them, they persist until we finally cannot ignore what our body is telling us. Thank you for your inspirational videos and blog Paul.

  5. Paul Reinig says:

    It is I who has you to thank for inspiring me with your example….thank you dear angel! 🙂

  6. Debra Eve says:

    Mary, I can relate to each step of your journey. My personal belief is that yes, emotions can contribute to and worsen an autoimmune illness, but there’s always a physical root. I think it may be our reliance on so many toxic unnatural products. I can trace my own battle to living with toxic mold in an old house and the landlord’s negligent “treatment” of the problem. Nature has been my healer — whole foods, walking outdoors, but I’ve still a long way to go.

    I’m so glad you can walk now and enjoy such moments of beauty. Such gorgeous heartfelt writing here that can inspire so many other women (like me) who’ve battled as you have. Thank you!

  7. Mary says:

    Thank you Debra. Yes of course there’s also a physical root and obscure illnesses such as fybromyalgia are complex.
    Like you, nature is my healer along with good nutrition and creative expression. Best of luck with your own recovery, Debra. You are a strong courageous woman.

  8. Mary Mc Cann says:

    I have never suffered with this condition, if i did i would find this blog more than helpful.

    it’s so down to earth with the facts plainly set out without recourse to jargon. I am passing on this blog to suffers I know.

    so honest and factual I just know it will be so well received.

    Mary Mc cann

  9. Mary says:

    In reply to Mary Mc Cann:
    Thank you Mary. You are a wise woman, embodying the Goddess in the manner Clarissa Pinkola Estes urges us to. As a therapist, you have always had an intuitive understanding of the body and an ability to honour its wisdom. I now believe that comes from listening to feelings as they pass through the body. Never one to follow the herd, you continue to march – or rather ‘dance’ to the beat of your own drummer. You truly are an inspiration.

  10. bianca says:

    You’re an inspiration to us all, thank you for sharing your heart warming story.x

  11. Mary says:

    You are welcome Bianca. If we can overcome an illness it is great to inspire others by telling our story.

  12. What a wonderful warm and inspiring post. That gives hope to all of us who find ourselves dealing with illness. By sharing your experience and feelings, you are really helping people like me who are fighting for fitness and doing it with a positive mind and a strong will power, to beat what we have been given to deal with. It is so great to connect with you and reading posts like this keeps me going and gives me an up lift and energy boost to keep on going. I have learnt so much from you already and look forward to becoming a regular reader of your brilliant site and learning more. Thank you.

  13. Mary says:

    Thanks for stopping by Nikki. I’m glad you found my post helpful. It’s not easy dealing with a medical condition that becomes exacerbated by stress. I am delighted you feel inspired to connect with a strong faith in your own ability to heal. There’s lots we can tap into and it’s not all serious. I’ve found that many who, like me, repressed emotions also repressed their inner clown. Much for the same reason we shut down other emotions – often due to being scolded by parents or teachers for laughing at something they regarded as inappropriate.
    So along with meditation we can also explore letting our childish clown go loose, through watching comedy or reading funny books. Smiling and laughing releases healing endorphins into our bodies. I will do a blog on this soon.
    Know that you are strong and on a healing path.

  14. Dan says:

    Nice to see some positive blogs and focus on recovery.

    I share recovery stories on my website here : http://cfsunravelled.com/cfs-fibro-recovery-stories/

    Have you made a full recovery now? If so, would you be interested in sharing your story?

    Kind regards,

    Dan

  15. Mary says:

    Thanks Dan,
    I have not recovered 100% but I’ve learned to pace myself and manage the condition. Yes I would be interested in sharing my story. Please get in touch via message on this site.
    Best wishes, Mary

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