The Perfect Pain

Picture courtesy of Sue Fitzmaurice FB

Picture courtesy of Sue Fitzmaurice FB

I think that I can speak for most of us with Fibromyalgia when I say that we can’t really be sure of the first time we knew we had the condition aside from our final diagnosis. Fibromyalgia has a nasty habit of creeping up on you and before you know it, you have succumbed to fatigue, pain, depression and life never feels exactly the same again. Sound familiar??

Certainly for me, I was kind of aware when things changed……October 1989.

I was tired beyond belief, not the usual feeling out of sorts but an overwhelming fatigue that saw me just existing on work and sleep, nothing more. Next, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) hit me big time. Unbearable pain and bowel spasms resulted in endless tests and investigations but with no cure. I can’t even remember how the pain crept in but it did, slowly, like a stealth Ninga who pride themselves on a “You can’t see me but I am there” kind of motto. No big drama, no collapse, no writhing around in agony – it was just there. It was there when I got hugged, it was there when I tried to exercise, when I had a bath, when I got on the floor to play with my son, there when I sat down for too long. Pain  was my constant companion and I didn’t even really know it.

So given the fact that I couldn’t say for sure when the Fibromyalgia started, I certainly cannot say how or why I “got” Fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is often triggered by a stressful event, including physical stress or emotional (psychological) stress. Possible triggers for the condition include:

  • an injury
  • a viral infection
  • giving birth
  • having an operation
  • the breakdown of a relationship
  • being in an abusive relationship
  • the death of a loved one

Certainly, I can say that two of those were definitely the case prior to my symptoms developing in 1989 but really, could all of the personal upheaval that I had suffered earlier in the year have proved so catastrophic to my health, in so much as it would be with me for the rest of my life? Surely, there had to be something else that had been around for much longer to have manifested it’s way into my body and created such a dramatic impact on my health.

A recent study from the Journal of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics published online by Medical News Today in January 2015 claims that perfectionism has the potential to predisposing a person to persistent and unexplained fatigue, characteristic of Fibromyalgia, IBS and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

They suggest that maladaptive perfectionism has the tendency to promote thoughts which are self critical and therefore drive the perfectionist to over work to the point of exhaustion which can then initiate or perpetuate chronic fatigue. It concludes that the strive for perfection creates stress which in turn is countered by self blame rather than the taking of constructive action.

For me, I can totally relate to this theory. My whole life I have tried to be a people pleaser. I was told from an early age that being average was not an option so consequently my life has been spent striving to be above average. I wore my perfectionist label with pride, believing it was a good thing only to discover in recent years that actually to be a perfectionist involved a lot of stress and a great deal of heartache. I was not perfect, could never be perfect and therefore suffered with feelings of failure and inadequacy.

I think maybe I am now fighting Fibromyalgia  as a result of worrying away my first 25 years, always wanting to be better and get noticed, a need to do well and be the centre of attention.

As I have got older and maybe a little wiser, I have learnt that it is entirely possible for our thoughts and feelings to manifest themselves physically in our bodies. Stress as we know can do untold damage to our mental and physical state of being, so therefore it makes perfect sense to me that a lifetime of striving for something that is not possible for any human to attain can absolutely put a strain on our health and have a detrimental effect on our body.

To further back up this theory, I would say that I have seen improvement in my condition since I have accepted my lot in life. Don’t get me wrong, I still strive to achieve but not in the same way. I am not so hung up on the people pleasing aspect either, it’s too much like hard work. I am learning  to accept me and my limitations  and whilst I may never be able to totally reverse the effects of the Fibromyalgia, I am taking steps to be at peace with myself through meditation and yoga which ultimately will reduce my stress and hopefully my symptoms.

I would be so interested to know if you can relate? Does the study resonate with you and could there be some truth that the strive for perfection is a character trait in all of us that suffer with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?

Please leave your comments below if you can identify with a life time of people pleasing, over achieving, striving and perfecting.

The link to the original article can be found at http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/287529.php

 

 

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