It hurts. Most days I can get through the day if I take my time, doing the essential things first. Lesser tasks are at the bottom of the list. As I learned to cope with my body’s dysfunction, it became about priorities. Something I never lived by before, would become my mantra now.
But it wasn’t always this way.
Before my diagnosis, I always fought with my body. Day in and day out it was like fighting a battle that I couldn’t win. I had debilitating fatigue. I couldn’t climb the stairs. I couldn’t walk from my car to the grocery store. The pain in my limbs as I forced my body to try to do anything was so excruciating at times that I often sat in my car in cried.
I became one of those people I often saw crying in their car because it was the only place I could vent. No one believed what I was feeling was real, and the façade of soldiering on became too heavy a burden.
As the years wore on and there wasn’t a diagnosis or an end in sight, I contemplated ending it all. But I couldn’t, I had a family who depended on me to be there. At times I resented them because I knew that if they weren’t around, I would have no problem ending the pain.
Having a diagnosis didn’t help matters. Knowing that you have Fibromyalgia doesn’t make the pain go away, and neither does the pills. It often feels like they just put a label on you so you’ll go away. And I did. I took my diagnosis and headed to Google in search of a better way to live.
I found a natural medical doctor who got me on a protocol that gave me my energy back. The pain never went away completely, but it was better. I could function, and that was better than the alternative. I was able to go back to school and do something more than lie in bed all day watching Netflix. I felt human again. But normality always comes with a price.
I started not sleeping. The stress of school, moving across the country, and family life, in general, was getting to me. My body doesn’t handle stress well. There’s no amount of exercise or mediation that will help me. I knew I needed to stop something for a while or else I would regret it. I decided to put my courses on hold. I wasn’t happy about it. Often I’m angry when my body decides for me that it’s not going to work anymore.
But I know better now not to push it.
I could have pushed through it, but I knew what would await me on the other side. Months of fatigue. Months of pain that would overtake my entire body. It starts with just an ache that sits deep inside of you and refuses to go away. The ache then turns into a throbbing pain that I want to run away from but I can’t. The intensity grows with each passing day until I finally can’t take it anymore and I stay in bed. Unmoving. Not wanting to do anything that will make it worse.
It can last for days and sometimes months. During that time I sit at home, angry I was missing out on life. I had to conserve my energy for the things that no one else was around to do but me. Simple things like dropping the kids off at school and picking up groceries would send me to the couch for hours to recuperate. After cooking dinner, I was mentally and physically done for the rest of the night.
Writing was almost impossible. The brain fog caused me to forget everything I wrote the day before. I would spend an hour rereading my work before I could write another word.
My last flare up lasted for six months. I wanted to die. I begged for death. I scoured the depths of the Internet for anything that would help pull me out of it. The only thing that worked was time. I had to relax. I had to let my body repair itself. I had to eat as clean as I could and take my supplements. I had to exercise even though my body argued against each movement. It was never a desire to. I had to, my well being depended on it.
I learned about triggers. I have a lot of them. Stress is a major one. I know when I’m under stress because I stop sleeping and then once that starts it’s a downward slide straight to hell if I don’t put an end to it. Cold is another one, and I’m dreading my first winter in Colorado because I don’t know how my body is going to react.
Having no control over my body is the hardest thing to get over. When I wake up in the morning, the first thing I do is take stock of how I feel. A good day or bad day is already prescribed for me before I’ve even rubbed the sleep from my eyes. On the bad days, I read, a lot. Craft books mostly so I don’t beat myself up over not being able to write anything.
Today is not the greatest of days. I woke up in pain, and as I write this, I’m rubbing my hands in a vain attempt to push through the last few paragraphs. I write anyway because I have to do something, anything to feel like I haven’t given up completely.
I need to still feel like me, even though I know I’ll never be that me again.
For three years I let Fibromyalgia destroy my career. I sat at home. I didn’t work because I couldn’t. Every other day I was calling out sick. When I was at work, I struggled to get through the day. Everyone could see there was something wrong, but I couldn’t fix it. No one can fix it. I struggled emotionally as depression set in, and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
Until I had had enough.
I chose to go back to school. To push myself as hard as I can but to recognize when my body needs a break and to take it. I had to learn when to allow myself to take a break. It’s not an easy thing to do, to admit that you can’t do everything when you want to do it. But it’s the only way to live with Fibromyalgia. And I intend to live.