Fibromyalgia: My Health Journey

Recently I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, a multi system chronic condition that is characterised by chronic widespread pain, extreme fatigue, brain fog, digestive complaints and depression. For a sufferer of Fibromyalgia, stress is a major driving force in exasperating symptoms. It is a lifelong condition (there is no cure) but with a range of therapeutic care, symptoms can be managed and even improved. It sounds like a lot, and it is. It has felt like I’d stumbled into a dimly lit tunnel filled with physical and psychological challenges coupled with medical puzzles that needed a large brains trust to solve. I’ve been in this tunnel a long time, but have now stepped into some sunlight. Rather than being completely devastated by this diagnosis, I felt a huge sense of relief, validation and overwhelming gratitude. For my persistent struggle with extreme fatigue, insomnia, digestive complaints, low moods and pain have for the past 7 years made me question my sanity, and doubt my capabil

A new perspective in grief

Typically, the beginning of a new year has always prompted in me a fresh resolve to begin or recommit to a resolution that fell by the wayside long ago; usually a casualty of the inevitable hurly burly of life and the big beautiful mess that it so often is. The turning over of a brand new calendar page will evoke in me an optimism for the year that lies ahead. I am an optimist at heart and therefore am hopeful that a new year will be a little better. Summer has naturally been a time to take stock and plan for the year ahead. 

However, this year I’ve approached things very differently. The events of the past 18 months have left on me a big heart wound. Last year was filled with so much sadness and grief, one does not simply turn the page and move on as if all that was in the past has no lasting impact on the present. While the end of a year naturally brings to a conclusion some things, feelings and emotions are a little more elusive to box up.

Rather than resolving to do and be something new, (though there are new things I am doing) I have found it more helpful to see things as if I were moving through a season. Nature so beautifully displays how that looks. It’s a gentle progression of change, rather than an immediate dramatic before and after. The vibrant green summer leaves slowly changing golden and then eventually dropping onto the ground below. Or the emerging shoots of a spring bulb breaking through the hard ground to reveal a most splendid colourful flower. The change is gradual, but also predictable. Seasons do have beginnings and ends.

Throughout the season of my sisters illness, I was often overwhelmed with grief at what was happening to her and to her family. And it was on one such day that I read Ecclesiastes 3 vs 1-4, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” I found myself in a painful season, it was a time to weep and mourn at the passing of a life. Reading Ecclesiastes reminded me that God is in control of the seasons, there are many seasons that he allows but he puts borders around them. I am not to know how long a season may last, but I know who is in control of it, and that it will pass into something new. What follows a time of weeping is laughter and dancing. How beautifully hopeful for those that mourn.

While I am still moving through grief, I am seeking to pursue things that are nourish me. Being engaged with activities that bring me out of myself, contributing to things that are worthwhile and purposeful. Learning new skills that challenge and encourage me. And most importantly, creating space to be still, reflect and heal. These are all steps I take in a helpful direction. Yes I have setbacks and bad days, and often need a good cry. But I also have days where there’s lots to laugh about and be excited by. (One of my daughters got engaged over the summer, and the prospect of a family wedding is something that brings joy.) I am learning to be at peace in this season that God has allowed and am trusting him to lead me through it.

What season do you find yourself in? Are you discouraged that it has seemingly followed you into a new year? Take heart… God is lovingly in control. Are you beginning to blossom and thrive? Enjoy the good things God has for you. Trust him with your season.


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