The Never-Ending Grieving Process of Fibromyalgia
When I first got diagnosed with fibromyalgia, some people talked about a grieving process. I came from a counseling background so I knew that grief isn’t something you only feel after someone you love dies but rather a sense of loss anyone can experience when something important comes to an end. I understood on an intellectual level that this condition would place limitations on my life and my ability to perform certain activities and that would have implications on my self-esteem and my sense of being, but absolutely nothing could have prepared me for the avalanche of emotions and conflicted feelings that I still go through regularly – nearly four years later!
I may have a diagnosis, in fact I now have two: fibromyalgia plus osteoarthritis in my knees, hips and back, but I don’t have a definitive list of symptoms; this chronic illness seemingly comes up with new ways of torturing me every other week. Symptoms range from agonizing pain, IBS, insomnia, anemia and skin conditions to a hypersensitivity to sound, smell and touch. The latter may sound trivial and amusing but it’s far from funny when I am so bothered by the sound of a radio or car stereo being played that if I can’t turn it off I become completely enraged and have to leave the room immediately before I literally throw it at someone or lob it out of the window!
Of course, the nature of most chronic illnesses is that they flare up and down and for me, this is what plays such havoc with my emotions. I become lulled into a false sense of security during a good period; feeling stronger and in less pain, I start to do more, I begin to convince myself I’m in better health than I thought and even beat myself up for having given in before. Sometimes we’re literally talking a day or two of reprieve but last summer I had a couple of months of good health.
Then it will hit me: the stiffness and pain floods back into every limb, the fog, as they call it, seeps into my head and I’m transformed from an intelligent, articulate woman into someone who can’t remember a thing from one moment to the next and has the concentration span of a gnat!
Worst of all my bubble is burst and the knowledge that I’m stuck with this illness terrorizes me. I start the grieving process all over again just like the film “Groundhog Day!”
There are so many ways in which my life is different now, even after just four years, and my mind screams, “But I’m only 45 years old — how bad can it get?” People will try and make me feel better by saying, “You’re still the same person we know and love!” But I don’t feel like me!
Before this post gets too gloomy, just because I feel and experience all those things doesn’t mean I’m giving up! I can’t do that – I have a family and friends who love me and I am only 45 years old – too young to write my life off! I’ll keep taking the meds, work on the self-care and above all keep fighting. My life isn’t the same anymore but living with a chronic illness has taught me to take each day as it comes and when it’s a good one – make the most of each and every minute!