The Mighty Logo

When I Said 'Goodbye' to the Person I Used to Be Before Fibromyalgia

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

About six years ago, a part of me died. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and my world changed.

While I was happy to have a diagnosis, and one that wasn’t life-threatening, I realized that things were never going to be the same. I wish I could say that things were different, but they aren’t.

By definition, a chronic illness is something that you will live with – forever. Mine is manageable and doable, but it never goes away.

Early on I struggled to keep myself positive. I went to therapy. I consulted the pain clinic and made a plan. I journaled. I did yoga. I meditated. But every night, as I got ready for bed, I was reminded of my current state. And it was devastating.

I was always active – both physically and mentally. I found that I could not handle activities that had once come so easy to me, like second nature. My brain had a hard time focusing on reading a book. My body would not cooperate for the types of workouts and sports that I was used to. Even snuggling my kids was difficult at times.  I used to cook and clean and work
and play at a high level. I was working towards an active and rewarding life and then BAM — I hit a wall.

One of the ideas I had to come to terms with was the “death” of the old me. I had to mourn who I was and who I thought that I would be. I needed to take time to sit with this and process it like any other death. I went through the stages of grief until I hit acceptance. I spent most of my time in the “bargaining” phase, begging God and the Universe to take it back. I made promises out loud and in my heart to try and “fix” what I was dealing with. I prayed and cried and screamed. I had horrible panic attacks that were both emotionally and physically horrendous and I felt so stricken by fear and denial that I couldn’t move out of the spiral I found myself in.

I was here, in this abyss of self-loathing and denial and misery for over a year. I hid what I could, but it permeated my life. It has forever changed important relationships in my life.

I had to accept the “death” of the old me. And eventually, I did.

But it has come with a price.

I have a new normal, a new vision and version of living. And that has impacted me so much that I have come out on the other side as a very different person. A person that I am not sure everyone loves.

There is something extremely hard to describe that happens when you go through this change, this so-called “death.” If you make it through and you find ways to cope, there is a whole new reality on the other side. It is a rebirth of sorts and you have a new normal. You have a hope and desire for life that fills you.

I still find myself slipping into different stages of grief here and there – if something happens in my life that reminds me of that “old”version, I can be knocked back, but the longer I am away from that initial moment in time when I was heartbroken at my core, the easier I bounce back. Certain situations, discussions, and events can rock me, but they are fewer and farther between, for which I am grateful.

As I move forward in life, I embrace things that make me happy and keep me healthy. I am getting better at saying “no” and finding ways to love my new normal.

While it was a metaphorical death, I am still here. Dreams and plans might have vanished, but I am still here. It is up to me to make the most of every minute and encounter I have in this rebirth. And I hope you can find peace with yours.

Originally published: January 10, 2020
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home