Happiness – The First Day of my Self-Help Group

By: Rosaria Mastronardo

We humans are always looking for happiness. But what is happiness? Why are we always so damned conditioned to have to reach it at all costs? We often hear from those who go through a dark moment, or moments of sadness, “I would like to be happy”.  Happiness is a state of the soul. You can be happy for many reasons, for having found love, for having passed an exam, in short, for a multitude of things but it always remains an inner state.

Happiness, for me, cannot last a single moment, happiness doesn’t have to have an end, happiness is forever. It’s possible? Yes, I really think so! It is when it is no longer just a momentary state of the soul but it is that joy, that acceptance of the different from the other is tranquility with others but above all with oneself. Happiness is in finding the courage to react to adversity; happiness lies in noticing and being aware of a disease that does not make you sleep, does not make you walk, does not make you enjoy life to the full.

Happiness from lifeHappiness is when, after reaching full awareness of your state, you want to share it with others like you. Happiness is in strongly believing that your desire to be happy in this way can come through you to reach those who, on the other hand, have not succeeded in this undertaking. Happiness is seeing that someone like you can achieve the same goal as you. Happiness is not, and cannot be, a pursuit of future dreams, but on the contrary it is to enjoy what you have in the moment. Happiness is to be satisfied with little, that little must make us happy.

There are in the life of every individual those days, those moments of happiness that are never forgotten, that never disappear from the mind and heart and are not erased by anything or anyone, yes … of course they exist. The birth of a child, one’s marriage, the first love, so that there are moments engraved in the soul and that made you happy and are common to many of us, they are almost in the habit of every individual, but true happiness, the one as I understand it, is the one that leaves an indelible mark on you and everyone else. It is that gesture that remains forever in giving something of you to the other.

I am a mother and I am happy with this, I had the joy of a son who is my life; I am in love with my husband whom I married many years ago and we are still together today, but the thing that made me happy, so happy, is that I became aware of a disease that struck me four years ago and that still,  I never give up.
Since that day.

I do not hide from you that I have gone through very difficult moments, states of anxiety and depression that worsened my situation; it was difficult for me to accept that condition. A state of perennial pain, intense, excruciating that sets the body on fire and sometimes takes your breath away. But I had to react to all this. I could not always sit and cry on myself, I would not have solved anything like this, indeed I would have certainly worsened an already particularly difficult and painful situation.

I got so busy. I did everything to find out about the “beast” (this is how I define my disease: Fibromyalgia), I subsequently participated in several meetings organized by associations, I dealt in the workplace with all the problems related to the work difficulties that we fibromyalgia suffer from we meet in the workplace. Unfortunately, Fibromyalgia, not being a recognized disease included in the LEA, is not taken into consideration in the workplace, we DO NOT EXIST for the NHS therefore we cannot ask for understanding from the employers indeed, if we try asking for a simple help to even a change of duties is often not granted to us because fibromyalgia is a NOT recognized syndrome.

In my research, I came across self-help groups. I have studied its origins and history; thus the desire to create a self-help group for fibromyalgia was born in me; the idea arose because I noticed in the various meetings I attended that among us fibromyalgia sufferers a spontaneous and natural listening group was immediately established.

We were all eager for a comparison, an exchange of opinions on the right therapies, we even discussed the food we ate, in short, a comparison of all that our daily difficulties were. So I start looking for courses and I come across the Tuscan Coordination of self-help groups. I inquired and confessed to them already from the first day, my desire to create a group for fibromyalgia.

FINALLY! It didn’t seem real to me, I was making something that I believed very much in and that maybe, one day it could be realized. I am lucky, because at the Coordination I find a real “family”, a group of serious and prepared operators; I felt very close to them for the passion they put into what they did.
The scientific referent of the Coordination, at the second meeting told me that she would give me a hand in the realization of this dream.

After training, preparation and consultancy for the groups to be created and formed, my dream was getting closer and closer.
On 12 May 2018 (on the occasion of the World Fibromyalgia Day, I personally wanted this date) my group was born: Fibromyalgia: Let’s face it together. I am in seventh heaven notwithstanding, the scientific referent of the Coordination, who has joined me throughout this journey, always repeated to me: “Rosaria, it’s not over, we are only at the beginning”.

September 6, 2018, the first day of my self-help group.

Trust me, I’m not exaggerating, I was almost as happy as the day my son was born. Excited to the maximum, thrilled but at the same time serene, I had reached a goal, that goal that at the beginning was only a dream, had finally come true. Unexpected turnout, double the number of people who had warned me of their presence showed up at the first meeting. They had doubled due to a need for answers and a desire to know on the subject.

I had prepared everything, the opening speech, the presentation, everything but… as soon as I started I no longer followed the schedule I had prepared. I went on without taking into account what I had transcribed. The first day of school you all remember a little, I think, that’s what it was for me like the first day of school. The beating heart, thrilled: absorbed in the issue, I shouldn’t have lost my concentration … Not much time has passed since that 6 September 2018.

The meetings have continued and every day I discover in myself a happiness that, believe me, I cannot describe. For me, this is the concept of happiness, do not leave people who suffer like me in solitude, it is necessary to get involved, to make the other feel good too.