I had symptoms of fibromyalgia years before I was diagnosed. I understood, even way back then, that the emotional/stress connection is a huge component. Because of this, I thought it was all in my head. It really is testament to the love and concern shown to me by my lovely husband that I eventually got up the courage to go to my doctor.
I’m usually a courageous person – it is just that in times of great stress and particularly at funerals, a huge pain would descend upon me seemingly from nowhere. I could not believe that I had a “real” illness – how could I expect a doctor to believe me? Now when I say real – I knew that the pain was physically there – trust me, I could feel it! But the coincidence of it occurring during times of stress made me feel that I had somehow brought it all on myself.
So I saw my GP (general practitioner doctor in New Zealand) who was very understanding and sent me to a Rheumatologist who immediately diagnosed fibromyalgia due to the tender points and other symptoms. I have since heard horror stories of people going to their doctors and being treated like they were hypochondriacs. I’m so grateful that this never happened to me.
I had never heard about fibromyalgia before and I was amazed at how many other symptoms I had that I didn’t realize were part of the illness. I just thought that these things were peculiar to me. These symptoms included such things as fibro fog, restless leg syndrome, irritable bowel, sensitivity in many ways plus many more.
So fast-forward about 14 years to the present day…this early knowing that I had that stress played such a major role for me in fibromyalgia is the key to understanding how the illness manifests in me personally and therefore my clue in minimalising it. I have “kicked it to the kerb” (the kerb is the side of the road/out of the way), not a complete cure, but I understand the aspects of my life that exacerbate it and have planned accordingly.
Sometimes just understanding why or how you are in pain is a huge relief. It takes the stress out of the equation and stops that eternal question “what on Earth is wrong with me?”
These days, when I experience pain from fibromyalgia, it doesn’t take me long to find the trigger. It is always some form of stress.
At my son’s wedding, I had a huge attack of pain in both shoulders, but as soon as the last speeches were over and the formal part that I was partly overseeing was finished…my pain just dissolved. Luckily I did not panic, just took loads of painkillers to see me through and then breathed a huge sigh of relief and went to bed for about 3 days.
Just this week, I spent several hours helping a friend with her research paper studying the mind/body connection. Many hours reliving being sick and talking about illness and fibromyalgia in particular brought on…you guessed it – a mild attack of fibromyalgia pain. In the “old days” it would have been a big attack, but because I knew that it was just from being stuck literally with past hurts, and didn’t worry or panic, it was mild. It occurred in the night and after a dose of prescription pain medication it was gone by the morning.
I have written more on these subjects in my book. The chapter titled “Victim Mode” in particular describes the negative mindset we can get into when we dwell on illness too much. Yes, we need to discuss issues to understand what our body is reacting to so that we can find a solution. But too much negativity only digs us into a deeper hole to try to crawl out of. We somehow need to briefly re-visit the past to understand our own fibromyalgia triggers and then use this knowledge to help us to a brighter future. Positive thinking used in conjunction with other techniques can greatly enhance our lives.
How does your body react to stress? What can you learn from past stressful events to help toward planning a new comfortable and peaceful life for yourself?
If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more articles that I have written I invite you to visit my website www.defianceofillness.co.nz
I am a survivor from a number of illnesses, including Fibromyalgia and Rheumatoid Arthritis. I live happily in defiance of illness with my family on a kiwifruit orchard near Tauranga, New Zealand, living the life I love and doing the things I enjoy and believe are important.
I am the author of “The Crystal Diary” written about my late daughter, published in April 2012. “Living Happily in Defiance of Illness” was published in August 2012, it is healing guidebook for people affected by chronic illness. Both books are available in printed format and the Defiance book is available in EBook format for instant download.