I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia a few years ago and back then episodes with this illness were more irritating than anything else – I would get random bouts of pain and fatigue, but I was still able to get through my days for the most part. I had finally returned to working full time after battling severe depression and I was excited about where my career was headed. And then, since April of this year, fibro has been rearing it’s ugly head and beating me down. There are some days when it feels like all of my limbs are encased in thick cement and the very movement of going from room to room can be excruciating. There are times when the monster resides somewhere specific in my body and it happens suddenly. Once I woke up with a pain in my left foot that lasted for two weeks. It felt like it was burning and bruised but there was nothing you could see. And as suddenly as it appeared it disappeared.
Having fibro can lead you into a deep depression on its own as there are so many random and crazy symptoms that happen that you begin to question your own sanity. None of it makes sense and a lot of people still think it’s not real and that people choose to be this way. I can reassure you that I don’t choose this. I’d rather be able to enjoy the wonderful life around me than having to cancel plans because of a flare.
I used to try to explain what the pain felt like to people to try to get them to understand, but if they have never had to deal with chronic pain and fatigue, they won’t get it. How your life just slowly starts to disappear and you have no control over what’s happening. It’s such a sad feeling and you truly feel helpless at times.
Not only are you in constant pain and fighting fatigue, you battle feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred and you blame yourself for what’s happening to you. If only you exercised more or ate better or learned how to deal with stress than none of this would be happening to you. So you try to do those things but you cry in pain when you try to move, you sometimes can’t eat because of nausea and stress causes flares and flares cause stress so you are stuck.
There are times when my fibro isn’t in a flare and I have days when I feel almost normal and I push myself to get things done that I normally can’t do. I try to cram in as much living as I can into those days but let me tell you…..you pay a price later on for it. How do you think you would feel knowing that doing something you enjoy would cause you a week of unending pain….you might choose to avoid doing those things and that’s what I feel like my life is about – avoiding things that might cause a flare.
And the brain fog that comes with fibro makes my loved ones wonder if I’ve completely lost my marbles. My thinking us often impaired and sometimes talking can be difficult. Short term memory is affected and multi tasking pretty much goes out the window. And again, this happens with no warning….sometimes I wake up fuzzy and stay that way all the time.
I don’t want pity from people – just compassion. Understanding that if you see someone who looks ok, you truly have no idea what pain they may be living with. If you know someone with fibro, just be a friend. Offer to help them get groceries or with housework and be understanding if they have to cancel plans. This illness doesn’t diminish our capacity to still be amazing people.