By: Dave Shields
I am often perplexed by an individual’s response to a disorder or disease diagnosis. In the early 90’s I came down with Fibromyalgia. It seemed to take forever but I was finally diagnosed at the Mayo Clinic in MN.
Initially, I was overcome by the severity of the symptoms…. The pain, fatigue, sleep problems, and mental fog were overwhelming. I couldn’t work or function. I would sit around in the rocker in agony, consumed by pain.
I felt helpless in the face of a powerful foe. At first, I struggled with acceptance. Even though I had a diagnosis, I shamed myself, saying things like – I’m just a weak and lazy person… it’s all in my head… just shake it off.
This disorder began to erode my identity. It impacted my character and stole my self-esteem and confidence. I began to lose myself, swimming in the sea of chaos that comes with Fibro. I don’t know when it happened, but eventually, I became Fibro. I allowed it to define who I was.
There is a massive difference between being Fibro and someone who suffers from a disorder called Fibro. I allowed Fibromyalgia to take over my life, but I didn’t realize it until it was too late. In the process, I became depressed.
I went underground and stayed this way for years.
I Felt Victimized.
Self-pity took up residence in my heart and mind, and I felt sorry for myself each day. I became totally debilitated and lived in a dark pit.
The road back began when I got angry… when I got sick and tired of being sick and tired. Fibro had taken nearly everything from me. I was fed up. I allowed anger to fuel my actions. It started with the small things like better personal hygiene, getting dressed for the day, making the bed, and setting a sleep schedule. Doing these seemingly small things made a huge difference in my day.
These behaviors began to give me a sense of control and personal agency. I felt like I had the ability to influence my life. Once these habits were re-established, I wanted more. I entered into therapy for support and rediscovered who I was outside of my diagnosis.
With a renewed sense of self, I began implementing strategies to manage Fibromyalgia. I started a meditation practice to manage my pain. I began stretching, bicycling, and walking. I added massage as a resource. I started eating healthier, and I bought a journal and used it for identifying daily gratitude’s and incidents of God appearing in my life. To this day, I call them “Godshots.”
I began to re-engage socially and build my support network. I thought about and talked about things other than Fibromyalgia. I started working again. Today my symptoms of Fibro aren’t any different than they were 20 years ago. What’s different is my mindset, how I approach my disorder, and my daily actions. I know I didn’t cause it and that I cannot necessarily control it, but I do have a tremendous influence on my daily life. I’ve accepted that Fibro is my traveling companion. I respect the large impact that it has on my life each day.
There are days when the symptoms are worse and, on those days, I lovingly amend my day, instead of beating myself up like I use to.
I live with Fibromyalgia. I live an empowered and fulfilling life despite that. I’ve gone from surviving to thriving. You can too!
Many Blessings, Dave