Category Archives: Fibromyalgia
During a Jungian inner journey in my late fifties, I had a very vivid dream. My husband and I were in a dining room on a boat on a river cruise. They brought us a series of small appetizers one at a time, which my husband ate with great pleasure, but I ignored while waiting for the main course. At some point, I realized there would be no main course. I was furious and went searching the boat for another dining room. When I found one, they only brought me an apple, which I threw against the wall in frustration. I went out on the front deck of the boat to see where we were going just as it began to go through a dark tunnel which became so small that I had to hunch down as we went through it. I felt total despair at first, but became hopeful when I saw some light at the end of the tunnel. Since then I have learned to delight in and treasure the small joys of life, while accepting the pain of failures and disappointments that are part and parcel of being an imperfect human being in an imperfect world. I used to live focused on the future with its possibilities, missing both the joys and the grace available in the difficulties of the present. At seventy-nine, I am pretty much running out of future! But since that dream, I have had many experiences, both joyful and heartbreaking that have become grace for me. Life is about spiritual growth from living in awareness and finding meaning in the whole reality of the journey, not ego or worldly gains or idealized scenarios.
Heartbreaks that have brought grace:
The pain of loss filling me with hate, but persistence in prayer freeing me to let go and accept not only loss, but mine and others’ flawed humanity.
Letting go of past ways of experiencing tenderness and intimacy and becoming open to new ways of feeling deeply cherished even in my helplessness and physical pain.
Accepting that one of age’s delights, sharing laughter with the one I love the most, has an expiration date, because it brings on debilitating coughing spasms due to his progressive lung disease, then finding peace instead in quiet moments of just holding one another.
Letting go of the need for understanding, so I can begin to love instead of need.
Sadly recognizing my own vulnerabilities in the generations following me and knowing the pain these will bring them, but beginning to see that God can bring them through to joy as he has me time and time again.
Knowing that life will not get easier, but believing that grace will continue to bring the fruit of love from both heartbreak and joy.
Appetizers on the journey this Christmas season:
The tree full of cardinals outside our windows, children’s laughter, babies’ smiles, hugs from my husband Julian, people being kind and friendly in a crowded grocery store right before Christmas, Americans’ amazing kindness to the handicapped, Christmas decorations, Julian sitting quietly in the dark enjoying his Christmas village, both Leonard Cohen’s Halleluja and Handel’s Messiah, getting to do the sermon from the molehill at our worship service on Christmas day, our son Mike’s photos and delightful descriptions of his students at the Cambodian orphanage for children born HIV positive, our son Chris getting an interesting new job and so many people in Dickson telling me how wonderful he is, my suicidal friend now ministering to others, seeing friends find new hope in the person of Jesus without having to buy into the hang ups of any denomination, Tylenol taking away all my pain for a while, my loyal friend Margie being a constant in my life, my sister-in-law’s mouth-watering fudge cake, my first cup of coffee in the morning, Christmas memories on face book, our son Steve’s humor and willingness to take care of us Aged Parents in bizarre experiences in foreign airports, all of our grandchildren and great grandchildren, grandson Josh and wife Paula and seven year old Eisley’s adventurous spirits, grandsons Jordan and Jake’s caring hearts and courage, Nativity scenes, granddaughter Hadley so happy wearing her Unicorn Onesie at Norman Family Christmas, granddaughter Emma and her BFF talking and laughing non-stop in the back seat while I drove them to the mall, getting freed from my temporary insanity of hating someone by saying a prayer for love and peace each time while writing it on over a hundred Christmas cards, our teen-aged granddaughter Sophie hugging Julian whenever she sees him and laughing and discussing great books with nephew David, the HO HO HO’s – my friends who are not afraid to color outside the lines, my very own fun super drummer boy great-grandson Aaron, our daughter-in-law Molly’s incredible ability to continue to love even those that bring her heartbreak, our daughter Julie’s infectious laughing attacks that we call “Julie moments”, eight year old Bella’s unfettered enthusiasm for life, memories of waking up to a snow covered world, grown granddaughter Carmen’s resilience and lightning quick sense of humor, the delight of making vegetable soup to share with sick friends and the poor, becoming friends with our fascinating and loving cousin Mary Eleanor, my ninety-four year old friend, Barbara’s children coming to see her in shifts from all over America this Christmas season, grown up great grandson Ryan still having good memories of going downtown with me before the stores opened to earn nickels by sounding out words on signs, some people actually responding to my blogs, being able to keep up with my best friend from High School and College on line, getting to know interesting and friendly people in Canada, England, Nigeria, France, New Zealand and other countries across the globe through the internet, my Study Club women friends, who have miraculously bonded across huge differences in religion, politics, age, background, economics and interests.
These are just a few parts of the wonderful collage of my life that bring me seasons of joy in what sometimes momentarily seems like the “cesspool” of life.
Loved this because, “Been there; done that.” It sounds simplistic, but actually is a good tool to break habitual cycles. Also, something a depressed teen-ager can relate to well enough to use it.
When I used to get trapped in a bad cycle of “I hate my boring life and I hate my selfish boring self,” I put slips of paper in three glasses. One glass labeled, Boring Necessary Tasks. The second labeled, Kindnesses to Others. And the third named, Attempts at Creativity or Totally Worthless Fun.
I drew randomly from first BNT and when that suggestion was accomplished, I drew and accomplished one from KTO, and then finally from the third, my reward group. Often accomplishing the first two unblocked my creativity.
I had two sets of these groups: Level One involved only a tiny bit of energy and time for each suggestion. Level Two took a larger investment of both.
On struggling through mud swamp days, I started with Level One and then moved on to Level Two. (Or not.)
Hello friends! It’s Elodie Under Glass here with a guest post on Low Moods.
I particularly want to thank Quisty, Kellis Amberlee and TheOtherAlice for their kindly help in reading and editing this piece. It would not have existed without their care, support, compassion, and wonderful editorial abilities. They are truly remarkable humans! (edited: And thanks to the radiant and patient NessieMonster, who let me come to her city and follow her around, burbling insensibly about this post, for far longer than most people would have.)
So recently, I went on a Stress and Mood Management course, and I thought that you all might enjoy sharing what I’ve learned.
This post is something of a correction/update to Adulthood is a Scary Horse, a post for the Captain which I was never quite satisfied with. It really crystallized for me on this course, in our…
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Fatty, Fatty, Five Foot Four – Can’t Get Through the Kitchen Door ( or I’m Heavy from All Those Stones I’ve Already Thrown at Myself)
With some hesitation, I am entering the fray started recently by someone’s criticism of an overweight television personality.
A couple of years ago, I lost about twelve pounds, because of knee problems, surgery, and a slow recovery due to my pain being prolonged by Fibromyalgia. The simple fact was, I was bed-ridden, sleeping a lot, and couldn’t get to the refrigerator on my own. Encouraged by this, I went on the Adkins diet and lost thirty-three more pounds. I looked so much better that some people didn’t recognize me. I felt so much better that my whole pattern of life changed.
But I’m still addicted to food. It’s just that since I like meat, fish, eggs, cheese, leafy green vegetables, and nuts, I can now pretty much eat all the time and gain weight slowly enough to have some control over it. (However, my husband dislikes most meat and all green leafy vegetables, so my grocery bill has almost doubled.)
Goodies and baddies. Baddies and Goodies. A reality of life: there are no unmixed blessings or troubles.
Long ago, I recognized that I have a tendency to become addicted to pleasures, because pleasure temporarily deadens emotional pain. God helped me recognize this in time to head off serious alcoholism in my late twenties, avoid temptations to adultery in my thirties, and finally stop smoking three packs a day at age forty-eight.
Unfortunately, by fifty-five I ended up in physical pain and in a wheelchair,( but fortunately allergic to most pain killers.) Friends, grace, and prayer helped me get through about six or seven years of this, but the delight of good food also played a significant part. When not able to exercise, while dulling both physical and emotional pain with the only pleasure left, I gained eighty pounds. I jokingly, but truthfully, say that I didn’t quit smoking, I just switched to smoking food. I am actually five foot- two inches tall and after my fourth child weighed one hundred and four pounds. Do the math. I became seriously obese in my sixties. I am still overweight for my small frame and height, just not grossly so. But, the need for the pain killer of food is still my current challenge.
Certain personalities are susceptible to emotional stresses in different ways than many others are. They are not only over-sensitive to slights or criticisms of themselves, but imagine others are also, and take on everyone else’s presumed pain. I remember getting stomach cramps every time a teacher got onto any pupil.
Also, some people’s ability to visualize wonderful possibilities, makes them idealistic and inclined to judge themselves and others as falling short.
The positive side of this is that when they have enough talent and brains, to actually gain influence, they can make a difference and make life better for many. But, the need to make a major difference in the world, produces a chronic sense of failure for many, while also tending to make them unsatisfied with the lack of vision and achievements of organizations they are involved in. Thus alienating them from others and creating an even greater sense of failure. Some of us “do not work and play well” with others in organizations or even religious institutions.
There are obvious addictions, some more destructive than others. But many go unrecognized or appear harmless. An addiction to shopping doesn’t do much harm, if you are rich, but can destroy solvency and relationships, if you are not. An addiction to judging others can pass as righteousness, when it actually simply serves to distract us from our own unrecognized pain over our failure to be the person God has created us to be.
Not only is nobody perfect, but nobody ever manages to become perfect. We are all different. And the areas, that we each are being called to grow free in, will not be on the same life schedule as someone else’s. In the gospel of Matthew we are called to be perfect only in forgiveness, of ourselves and others, which requires ongoing admission of failure and repentance on our part, until our last breath. And paradoxically, I believe that takes knowing we are loved totally.
An addiction to cleaning house can seem virtuous, unless it makes life miserable for everyone else, or requires time that is needed for something else God is calling us to do or be. Workaholics frequently end up divorced. Addiction to affirmation leads people to be chameleons, who then have a difficult time discovering whom God has created them to be. The list goes on and on. Whatever need controls us, no matter how positive the results may seem, is an addiction and will keep us from becoming the person God created us to be.
Working with the elderly, it’s become obvious that many are unable to accept help and can’t find peace, when they can no longer do for others. That may sound virtuous, but it’s not, when that is no longer whom God is calling us to be. When we are being called to be still and not only KNOW that He is God, but to be empty enough to be filled with Him, to become one with Him, then even just hating not being able to do for others, will defeat finding that which is actually the pearl of great price we all seek.
We cannot get rid of our addictions by ourselves and we can’t get rid of them all at once. There are seasons of life and there are times we are called to new freedom in specific areas. It takes recognizing our own addictions, however subtle or harmless seeming, so that we can accept the grace to get free. In other words, we have to work to cast the log out of our own eye, before we even think about judging someone else. Self-awareness is the basic need for ongoing conversion, for letting Jesus truly become Lord of our whole selves.
I am still finding that is a full time job at seventy-five, even though I accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord at thirty. Letting Him be Lord of our whole self, even the parts we don’t want to see, is a lifetime job and only He will know when we’ve become the unique, loved, but still imperfect person, that He created us to be, so we get to go home.
Fibromyalgia: Intensifier and Prolonger of Pain with Flare-Ups Severe Enough to Make You Pray to Die
I discover more people struggling with Fibro every week. I am in remission and have only had a few relatively mild flare-ups for over four and a half years. Unfortunately most people who do not have fibromyalgia really haven’t got a clue about how crippling it can become.
I started having just mild and brief attacks of pain in my hands, when I was in my thirties. I assumed it was arthritis. In my late sixties I had a couple of week long flare-ups with wide spread pain so severe, that I could not sleep or find anyway to get out of pain. I got slight relief from hot baths, but spent days and nights huddled in a recliner, wrapped in quilts, sobbing. If someone just touched me gently on certain spots, I cringed in pain. I am allergic to most pain medicines, including even aspirin, but steroid shots helped. I am a devout coward about many things, but I have come through five Caesarian Sections, a hysterectomy, gall stones attacks, and gall bladder surgery, always recouping quickly without much drama or whining. So, I was pretty sure the pain was really bad and not just me being a wus.
Finally about seven years ago, I ended up bedridden for two months.The pain in my wrists was so severe that I couldn’t lift a cup of coffee without wearing wrist braces, my back and hip pain not only kept me from walking, but awake night and day. My ankles hurt too much to put pressure on the gas or brake pedal in the car, so I couldn’t drive. My husband decided to net-work our home computers to his office computer, so he could work from home and take care of me. The then only marketed medicine did not help the pain and made me feel drugged.My doctor had run out of suggestions.
I went on line and joined the Fibromyalgia Association, receiving their monthly newsletters. In these, there were a variety of testimonies about treatments that had helped others. I decided to start with the simplest and cheapest and work through the lists.
The simplest was taking Dextromethorphan, available across the counter. After several weeks this actually stopped the flare-up that seemed to have become chronic. I stayed on this for several months, until my blood pressure began to rise. This is not a good medicine for anyone with high blood pressure. Fortunately, since I stopped taking it, I have not had any totally crippling major flare-ups.
Partly from age related actual physical wear and tear, at seventy-eight when I have to walk long distances, I use a walker. I don’t need it to walk, I need it to sit down just for a couple of minutes to relieve pain and then I can go on. Also, since I both work and play on a computer, I end up with numbness and pain in my right wrist and hand from carpal-tunnel syndrome. I have found that wearing a wrist brace, just when sleeping, actually solves this problem. Most of the time, tylenol extra-strength handles any other type of flare-up.
The problem for me is that at my age I have some wear and tear that would cause some pain anyway, but fibromyalgia not only makes the pain worse, it tends to make it constant. Finding ways to handle stressors
is the key for me. Hating having to do physical chores triples my pain. My best way of managing physical activity is to balance it with frequent breaks. Working consciously to mentally and emotionally accept large and small unpleasant realities and to find grace in them on a daily basis has brought me the most relief.
One woman I met several years ago, who had been bedridden for over two months, got relief with the medicine Plaquenil, though it took almost three months to be pain free.
There are success stories with various natural treatments and there are new medicines on the market. Fibromyalgia has a wide spectrum of symptoms including fatigue and confusion. It seems to be caused by the central nervous system becoming hyper-active and sending out pain signals much more severe than any soreness,injury or emotional response merits and also prolonging the pain way past when the cause has been cured. No one has a clear handle on it yet.
Get a doctor’s diagnosis, which generally will involve tests to rule out arthritis, lupus, and other serious muscle related illnesses. Be proactive. Become knowledgeable through the Association newsletters about options for treatment. Sometimes, doctors have a certain mindset about medicines and treatments, so find one that is willing to work with you to find the best for you.
Though cause and effect aren’t clear, there are some things that seem to make it worse. Again, this can vary greatly from person to person. Become aware of triggers for you. Changes in atmospheric pressure, exhaustion from overdoing physically, particularly when tense, are some I’ve noticed. Depression and resentment are major triggers for me.
If you have a personal relationship with God, surrendering all to God mentally or verbally over and over while in the pain, or praising God even in this time of suffering, and persevering until you mean it wholeheartedly, often can be incredibly healing. I admit that there are times I personally don’t manage this.
When in a flare-up, cut yourself a lot of slack. Mentally treat yourself tenderly, like you would a beloved child in pain. Prioritize and do only what is the most important. Allow yourself to just be. No matter what anyone else thinks, this is the a path to relief.
However, become aware of what is going on in your inner world. There may be something needing healing, resolution, or acceptance. This has the potential to bring more permanent relief than just medicines or rest.
Lately, I have been feeling overwhelmed by a difficult situation and am having some flare-ups again. It has taken over a week, but remembering what God has brought me through before, and working on letting go of my picture perfect expectations of myself, life, and others has given me relief.
I recently made a CD of favorite songs about peace, inner peace, personal peace, and world peace. Playing this when driving in heavy traffic, when needing to relax, and when going to sleep has been a great help.
Anything that relieves stress can help lessen a flare-up and allow you to get needed rest. Sex is actually a good temporary stress reliever, as long as the circumstances don’t cause resentment or anxiety.
Repetitive physical exercise,however, particularly during a flare-up, can make the pain worse.
Don’t despair. There is help. But it may take some trial and error. Persevere.