You know those days when everything sucks? It seems like the world is against you? If you’ve never felt like that then consider yourself lucky, and you need not continue reading this. This is for the real people who actually have really bad days. The days where the kids don’t behave, and then you have a disagreement with a family member that escalates into not talking to said family member. Then you get a bill in the mail for way more than you expected. Then your ex says something really stupid (which is not so unusual right?) so you get mad at him too. Then you need help with the kids but you know you can’t ask him because you are mad at him. See a pattern here?
If you are a really resilient person like I am, then you try to power through it. I try not to let one or two things get me down. Three I can usually handle, but after that all bets are off. That’s when the fibromyalgia kicks in and tells me that I used up all of my energy on trying to blow off my feelings about the series of bad things that just happened. I think that’s kind of the spoon theory, but I still don’t really get that whole thing so no need to correct me if I am wrong, although it doesn’t happen very often. Wink, wink. Just kidding, it happens every day actually.
So where was I? Oh yes, a series of bad things has just happened and I pretended like they didn’t bother me, but they really did. Then one final negative thing happens, but I’ve already lost control of things so I go into a dark place. Once I snap out of it, it’s hard to imagine being there again, but while I am in that dark place, I am miserable. I can’t stop crying. I don’t have an ounce of energy. I don’t want to talk to anyone or go anywhere. Taking a shower, getting dressed, or putting on makeup are out of the question. I can take my medication, but it still doesn’t help.
It almost sounds like I might be bipolar, from what I understand about bipolar disorder. In my case, I know I’m not bipolar, but it’s a similar depressive state. Depression is very common for people with fibromyalgia. In our defense, just imagine how you would feel if you were in pain every minute of every day, but you still had a life to live and people that depend on you. We spend so much of our time being warriors, just to do things that ‘normal’ people do. There’s a point, for me at least, where I feel like I’ve just had enough and I need to take a break from being a warrior. It’s not necessarily that I’m in a depressed state, it’s just a natural response from my body and my mind that too much has gone on and I need to slow down and let my mind and body rest. The same thing will happen to me when I try to do too much in a given period of time. It’s common after a holiday or a big event.
Once you let one bad thought enter, then the flood gates will open, and they will all flow through uncontrollably. Everyone is against me. Nothing ever goes right. Fibromyalgia sucks. Why has this happened to me? What did I do to deserve this? This isn’t fair to my kids. My life is miserable. There’s no hope for me. Woe is me. Yada, yada, yada. A pity party? Maybe a little. But calling these feelings a pity party would discredit all of the people with these emotions. If I could say anything to people with fibromyalgia, I would tell them that their feelings are valid. No, you aren’t being over-dramatic. You have the right to feel the way you feel. You don’t have to be strong all the time. It’s ok to have a bad day, or even a few bad days.
All it takes is one positive thought. Something good, however tiny it may be, can give me the strength to get off the couch, or into the shower. If I can do that, then I can pull myself out of the gutter, and out from the control of fibromyalgia. Sometimes I will try to pull myself out, but then fibro will pull me back and tell me that it’s not the right time. So I keep on trying until it is the right time.
Am I giving fibromyalgia too much power? Absolutely not. Fibromyalgia, as with some other ailments, is not something that you can blow off. Once it enters your life, you can either make room and learn to live with it, or you can let it get the best of you. You can’t fight it off or will it away. I’ve heard of people who have had fibromyalgia temporarily, and to you people I say congratulations (with just a tiny bit of skepticism). I don’t mean to take away from anyone’s journey, but there are so many of us who have lived with fibromyalgia for 10 years or more, and we would give anything to be able to say we “used to” have fibromyalgia. If you used to have it but you don’t anymore, then I don’t feel like you really understand the struggle of living with it from day to day, year after year. If I knew it was going to go away at some point down the road, it would make my journey a whole lot easier. Knowing that there is no end is a huge part of the struggle.
My reason for telling this story? It wasn’t to make myself seem unstable. It was too let the people with fibromyalgia know that everyone has down days too. I feel hopeless sometimes too. It’s easy to look at my picture, and see the smile on my face, and think that I don’t have bad days the way you do. I do. You might see me at school or wherever and think that I don’t understand what you are going through, but I do. I cry a lot. I get depressed too. Sometimes, really depressed. But when the depression (on my first draft I accidentally type desperation, but it works too!) passes, I put on my game face and count my blessings. I put on my big girl panties (I actually say chonis. Mexican peeps will get it!) and live my life the best that I can.
If you are someone who has fibromyalgia, or any condition, invisible or otherwise, don’t struggle with it. It’s not going to go away. If you can’t get rid of it, live with it. Manage it. Understand what makes it better or worse. Learn the cycle, so when you are in the midst of a hard time, you are prepared and you can handle it. I didn’t say it would be easy. Lord knows, it’s not easy. But you can do it! I know you can, and even if you think you can’t, trust me, you can! When the goin’ gets tough, then put your game face on and your big girl/big boy undies on and live!