The Struggle to Find Purpose While Living With Fibromyalgia
Anyone who has fibromyalgia or a chronic illness of any kind knows that it takes a toll on your life. Fibromyalgia snuck up on me six years ago and slowly turned my life upside-down. First I had to take it easy and not do so much in one day. Then my social life decreased. Eventually, the pain got so bad that I had a complete physical and mental breakdown, and I had to leave my job. That’s not an easy thing to admit, and it was certainly a hard decision to make as a married woman in my early 30s, owning a home with my husband.
I spent several months going to doctors, playing everybody’s favorite game, “Trial and Error,” with different medications and treatment methods. I did get some calls and messages asking how I was feeling, mostly from family. I was always embarrassed to tell them I wasn’t doing well. That the medication I was currently on was not working well enough, or that the side effects were too much to handle so I had to switch to something else. It’s difficult to explain to loved ones that getting to a point of “functionality” does not happen overnight, in a week, or even a month. It isn’t like recovering from surgery where in four to six weeks you’ll be up and at it again.
Here I am a couple years later. (Yes, years.) I am on treatment that helps my pain and depression, but I am still not able to work a steady job. I am at home every day, merely surviving, not contributing financially to the household, and I didn’t have any real reason to wake up in the morning. I was drowning in guilt. I felt like chronic illness had taken away my purpose to live. I was thinking, “Is this it? This is my life from now on?” Oh, hell no.
I’ve never been the “glass half-full” kind of girl. If anyone close to me is reading this, I know they’re laughing and nodding their head. However, this is different. This is my life. I had to take this miserable illness and make something positive out of it. I started by forming an online support group for people with fibromyalgia in my age group called “Fibro Fighters Under 40.” I wanted to form a community of people who truly understood each other in the same stages of life while living with chronic pain. I’m happy to say that it has turned into an incredible group of women and men who have become my “Fibro Family.” I can’t imagine my life without them now. Talk about a silver lining.
I am also a program director in the newly-founded nonprofit organization, the International Support Fibromyalgia Network. This is such an exciting opportunity for me because it will allow me to branch out even further and help more people with support and other services. It is an honor to be working with a passionate, hard-working team of fellow fibro warriors and I know we are going to do some great things in the near future.
For those of you who are in that same limbo-type state that I was in, I know it’s hard. But your life is not over. Look at your strengths and what makes you happy while being realistic. We all have a purpose. I had to take a step back and think about what I can do instead of what I can’t. With some encouragement and support from my husband and parents, I’m happy with the path I’ve chosen. Waking up in the morning is not as bad anymore. Well, once the meds kick in.
Getty photo by pinkomelet