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

Weakness as my witness.

When it comes to raising teens, I’m becoming a seasoned traveller. The journey with them throughout high school is quite the emotional rollercoaster. With the desire to raise a young adult better prepared to face the demands of the adult world, it’s no small job to get them across the Year 12 finish line. In the 10 years I’ve had the privilege of parenting teens, I have observed there are some commonalities in the challenges they face. One being, that many young people desire the approval of their peers… standing out as different is something they avoid where possible. Another being, that grades and comparison to peers can become a personal definition of success or failure - no matter how much you tell them it is not. As a mother, I not only want to have words of wisdom for them, I also want to model to them what a life looks like that is shaped and defined by Christ and who I am in him. But here lies a struggle for me - the older I get the more I am aware of my weakness, sometimes to the point I wish I wasn’t quite so frail. So what is that saying to my teens?

At the moment feeling fragile seems to be a regular place I find myself in. These days it doesn’t take much to bring big emotions to the surface, and to be honest I don’t like that feeling. It’s confronting feeling vulnerable, especially when you perceive others around you to be strong or thriving. I don’t want my weakness to define me and yet pain and tears seem to punctuate my weeks. Gone are the days of feeling like ‘Super Mum’, managing to somehow do it all and be it all, even when I’m completely faking it! If my teens are observing anything at the moment, it’s that Mum doesn’t have it all together.

Recently, my prayers have been as simple as “Lord I need your help today.” This prayer may seem too short, yet simplicity is a perfect starting point, for this is precisely where God works and his presence is most deeply felt. It’s a cry for help whilst acknowledging God’s power and sufficiency. One of my favourite verses of the bible is 2 Corinthians 12: 8-9 where it says, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

In the past I would have been embarrassed to say, “I can’t do that, that’s too much for me.” So often I have tried to mask my weakness and push through pain. My rationale was, “Surely if other women can do it, so can I”. However, this strategy of pretence hasn’t served me well, neither has it helped me authentically model to my young people a life dependant on God’s grace. So much of my wellbeing as I have come to understand it, is reliant upon me accepting who I am, respecting my limitations, advocating for myself when needs must and becoming more dependant on God. It has meant me coming to a place of peace; accepting who God made me, the circumstances he’s allowed in my life and the life and work he has called me to.

It was once tempting to imagine another’s shoes would be nicer to walk in, however getting older has shown me that’s a flawed way of thinking, for everyone is given particular triumphs and challenges. There is no perfect personality or life this side of heaven. Neither is it helpful to view myself in comparison or competition with others. In throwing off this burden of comparison and the subsequent disappointment (for anxiety and fear are heavy burdens) I find I can breathe more deeply. I can relax, and with full assurance rest in the blessed peace of knowing that while I may not feel okay, I am okay because God delights in me and he is good. In becoming more aware of my weakness, I turn to God in my need, and in turn I can testify to my kids and others what God is doing in me.

I hope that if I have taught them one thing, it’s knowing personally that they are loved by God, and that by trusting him with their lives, they are in the safest of hands. For trusting your life to God who is faithful, full of grace, compassionate, loving and powerful to save is precisely who you want holding you through life’s most fiercest storms. What do I really desire most for them? It’s to grow more like Jesus, and in doing so be a light and a blessing to others. I have found that my greatest points of growth have been produced by struggle and suffering. It’s at these points where I have known more deeply God’s love and care for me. So rather than be ashamed of the days where I’m a blubbering mess, I can speak with candour and say, “this may be where I’m at, but I’m okay because God is greater and he is good.”


Popular posts from this blog

A new perspective in grief

Fibromyalgia: My Health Journey