Fibromyalgia and Fear

Fibromyalgia and Fear. You would be forgiven for thinking that these are two words which belong together. Well not in my world!!

For those of you recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia or those who may have an inkling that perhaps you are showing symptoms of having the condition, it is easy to allow some fear to creep in. When words like “incurable”, “chronic” and “heightened pain responses” are used it is understandable that an element of fear will kick in and your outlook is considered gloomy.

My symptoms first started appearing in 1989, back in the day when the condition was referred to as “yuppy flu”. Doctors really didn’t have much of an idea about what was happening. After endless tests which always came back clear, I was worried that maybe I was imagining all of the fatigue and pain. A real fear for my sanity crept in. This carried on until I finally got my diagnosis.

In 2000, my doctor uttered the words Fibromyalgia ~ I broke down and cried.

Not because I was scared or shocked, the reality being I was relieved. I was right all along, there had been something wrong with me and now they knew what it was, I could be cured…

Oh, how wrong I was.  I asked the doctor excitedly, what was the cure? He then told me there wasn’t one and the fear crept in again.

Since 1989, fear has tried to overtake me many times. My condition has threatened to overwhelm me but it has never quite succeeded because I was determined that for as long as I could, I was not going to allow the fear of Fibromyalgia get the better of me.

Each new day gave me an opportunity to keep on keeping on. My attitude has always been to push on through whatever the condition could throw at me. There have been times when it has knocked me down but I never allowed the fear to keep me there. I was more afraid of not being able to enjoy my family and my life, to not be able to hold down a job and becoming a burden both financially and physically.

I didn’t have a crystal ball and could not see into the future. I did not know what Fibromyalgia would take from me and when it would take it, so I tried to get through each day the only way I knew how – which was to get up and getting going.

Fibromyalgia is not the robber it is made out to be.

If I had listened to my GP when I got my diagnosis, then for sure I would not be functioning the way I do now. My life would have consisted of anti-depressants and strong painkillers which ultimately would have stopped working and having to be replaced by stronger medication. Most likely I would have ended up in the wheelchair that he promised me further down the line and I would not have been able to hold down a full time job.

For some, I know that this condition can bring with it additional health issues which means some people struggle massively with their Fibromyalgia. But I would say to those people and all of the newly diagnosed sufferers, don’t be afraid to push a little. Life is for living and making wonderful memories. Even with a chronic condition, it is possible to have a positive mind set that speaks to our body and says “I can do this”.

I can get out of bed today, I can have friends over for dinner, I can attend that wedding, I can make that trip for a few days holiday, I can do some gentle exercise, I can make healthy changes to my diet, I can take some quiet time to just be. I know some of you are reading this and saying I would flare – well yes, so do I but I try to compensate and be gentle with myself for a few days after doing something which exerts me. I almost build it into my schedule. I have a late night, I follow it up with 2 early nights to try and rest my body.

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

We have all heard that saying, and I believe that fear could be the thing that cripples us long before the Fibromyalgia. It is said that our deepest fears rarely manifest. If I could offer you one piece of advice that I know to be true for me it would be to “do it anyway”. Don’t allow the fear of what may or may not happen hold you back from living your life. Don’t let the expectation of what you should be going through as a Fibromyalgia sufferer stop you from creating special times and memories. Your body may surprise you and give you an easy ride – you won’t know until you try.

As Richard Branson said “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and falling over”.

Baby steps they may be but they are still steps in the right direction. 

I heard a poem today which inspired me to write this piece. it is by Jeff Foster and is called Nothing to Fear.

99.99999% of your fears live only in your imagination, in anticipation and in memory. 

Even if the worst happens, you’ll find yourself dealing with it in the moment, responding from a place of presence. 

You don’t have to deal with it now, you’ll handle it then.

And who knows: The “worst” thing may turn out to be your greatest teacher, your most profound call to awakening, an invitation to the kind of courage of which you never thought yourself capable.

Fear isn’t your enemy, but a signpost ~ breathe into the moment.