I am in a lot of pain today. I went to bed feeling generally okay, but woke up with what felt like electric barbs tightly wrapped around my body, cutting into my muscles and skin. If I stayed very still, the pain ceased to bearable…but the slightest movement caused an eruption of electric-like pains that shot through my body. My neck, shoulders and arms felt unbearably stiff, and my legs shook when I tried standing. To touch, my skin felt bruised, and as I say…movement is agony.
I have fibromyalgia. It was only diagnosed a couple of months or so ago, but deep down I already knew. (Had quite deliberately not mentioned it to doc as a possibility, because I didn’t want it to be true.) It’s not lethal, it’s not deadly, but it is incurable and it is pretty damn nasty. I had watched my step-mother struggle with it, and had seen the warning signs when it first got her…and so knew the warning signs when I too started experiencing the symptoms. Since breaking up with my ex – I would say that was the trigger.
What is fibromyalgia? Well, here’s a lovely website for those who are interested http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Fibromyalgia/Pages/Introduction.aspx
“Fibromyalgia, also called fibromyalgia syndrome, is a long-term condition which causes pain all over the body. Fibromyalgia causes widespread pain and extreme tiredness.”
I will always feel achey, and tired…but this has generally been something I can distract myself from. I guess actually a lifetime of abuse makes it easier – “have I been raped? No. Have I beaten up? No. Well then stop feeling miserable and get on with it.” So I do. Generally speaking the pain isn’t unbearable, just achey…like when you have the flu, but without the temperature and runny nose.
However, flare ups are a little different. Every so often, maybe once every few weeks, I’ll wake up in agony. The fibro is no longer on a nice little plateau, but is instead raging very strongly and it’s suddenly virtually impossible to ignore the pain. I hate pain that is this extreme. It triggers memories, it triggers fear. It also makes me feel powerless, especially because it’s an illness. I can’t blame the abusers. I can’t blame even an accident. It’s an illness, taking over me. And frankly, that’s rude. It had no permission.
So sometimes flare ups might be bad, but still bearable. So a few weeks ago it just caused joint pain, so I wore a wrist support and generally took it easy. Other times, like this one, the pain is very extreme and all over the body, and triggered by the slightest movement. Even breathing is causing electric barb-like pains across my ribs. There is absolutely no escape.
What causes this illness? I don’t know. I’ve not really done a lot of research on it; frankly being more concerned with the aftermath of abuse. Some say stress can cause it; either one very stressful event or a lead up. I can see how this could work; I was fine, then was in an abusive relationship which sent me hurtling over the edge…and then my body packed in. Our bodies can have enough too, and frankly when I look at my life…I’m surprised my body hasn’t packed in sooner. It’s like an auto-immune disease, so I sometimes wonder if it’s actually because I’m safe and my body literally has no idea what to do with the whole “safe” idea. It’s been forced to constantly be fighting against pain and trauma, and for that to suddenly stop… maybe my body didn’t know how to cope. So now it attacks itself. (Thanks body, I love you too.)
I also saw this yesterday which seemed pretty interesting:
“survivors of abuse not only have psychological issues such as PTSD, but often are diagnosed with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia or rheumatoid arthritis. There’s a workshop later in the year as to why this is the case, that ‘the body is both the medium through which often the original trauma was enacted, and the source of ongoing suffering and self-hatred.'” This made a lot of sense. It’s not just my mind recovering from extreme abuse, but my poor body was put through an excessive amount of trauma and pain, and it is very true that as a child I locked the emotional trauma into different areas of my body that were hurt at the time. It may well be that the fibro has been triggered by my emotions starting to surface.
It may also be the self-hatred thing. I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle to “like” my body. It often feels separate to me, especially on days like today. It felt like a different person in the abuse. I had to focus on the pain in my brain, or the pain in my body. I simply could not do both, so there was a divide made between my mind and body at a very young age which only grew in intensity.
There is no cure for this sodding illness. And it is depressing. Pain is depressing, obviously…there’s all the lalala science reasons (releases negative hormones etc) but also simply because it HURTS. I am currently in agony just by typing this out, my chest hurts when I breathe and I feel like electric snakes are attacking my legs and there’s random sharp stabbing pains all over my body. Yes, I’m feeling a little worse for wear. But also, like I said, the powerlessness from it. I’ve taken the max amount of painkillers I can, and it’s barely made a difference. The edge is off it though, which is good I guess. But an abuser…I can hit, slap, shout at, ignore, dissociate from etc etc. I know it’s their fault I am in pain.
There’s nothing I can do with this new attacker. It’s my own body attacking itself, and therefore the self-hatred grows, and so look…we’re in a cycle. Marvelous.
So I’ve been pretty miserable all day, but trying to find things that’ll make me laugh 🙂 I am in, by my standards, a severe amount of pain…to the point that earlier I actually contemplated trying to find one of the abusers and pushing them into beating me up, so that I could be knocked out…or oblivious to the pain from the fibro. (Don’t worry, logic kicked in pretty soon…but pain does make you think some pretty stupid things).
The other thing with this type of illness is that it’s a silent illness. Nobody can see it, and I won’t just cry my eyes out if I can help it. So some people don’t believe it’s real, just like the other silent illnesses. IT’S REAL. IT’S BLOODY REAL AND IT SODDING HURTS 😥
Not nice. But then I thought, you know what…I’m not going to stay on the sofa trying to ignore the pain. It hurts to breathe, and hurts a ridiculous amount to breathe…so I can’t escape it. But once upon a time I could be beaten up and raped, and yet on campus and working within half an hour…gritting my teeth through the pain because I refused to let abusers leave me unable to function. This is no different, I’ve decided. I will not let an illness rule my life. It hurts whatever I do, and maybe I should just “take it easy.” Blah. It hurts regardless. I will get up, I will get dressed, I will walk to campus even it kills me, and I will do some work.
And probably cry a bit because it hurts.
But f*** you fibro. You picked on the wrong person; you ain’t breaking me.