“The flourishing orchid spreads out its fragrance”, Confucius
In the January 1, 2011 of The Globe and Mail A4 an article has resonated with me that is tied in to the issues I wrote about in my book. Based upon the work of Elaine Aron and The Highly Sensitive Person I developed a theory about the cause of fibromyalgia. In my view this condition resonates with those of us with an easily aroused nervous system and we are those ’highly sensitive persons’. Nothing I have read to date nor speculated about has changed my opinion, in fact the opposite has occurred. I am now more convinced from learning more and more regarding the revolutionary new brain research and my own observations from decades of living with fibromyalgia.
The article written by Anne McIlroy is entitled How to raise an ‘orchid child’ to blossom. I love the new term ‘orchid child’ as it is indicative of the sensitive child who is like a hot house plant. This term was described to me by one of the women I interviewed in the book as she described her younger years, and how her mother had used that language to describe her. Aron “now calls the trait sensory-processing sensitivity “, writes McIlroy. I have read this article with great interest and remembering my own childhood I am listing here certain criteria for the orchid child, all of which describe me as a child. I invite others to see the extent to which they too also describe themselves in this way. Did you/do you: “Notice the slightest unusual odour? Prefer quiet play? Complain about scratching clothing, tags in clothes or seams in socks? Startle easily? Perform best when strangers aren’t around? Feel things deeply? Notice when others are in distress? Have trouble falling asleep after an exciting day? “. Are you: “Sensitive to Pain? A perfectionist? Bothered by noisy places? Without doubt these are the ways in which most people with fibromyalgia would describe themselves. Were those of us with fibromyalgia orchid children? Often used as a symbol for spring and associated with the beauty of women, an orchid is a lovely image to embrace. It has been written that an orchid is a “flower of noble character”. This image is of a fragile plant that needs just the exact amount of light and nourishment in order to blossom, but not wilt.
While much of the research on orchid children seems to be focussed around the genetic code, and also on the role of poverty and other environmental vulnerabilities, nothing has been written about these personality characteristics and fibromyalgia. I have a hunch that will soon change as the prevalence of fibromyalgia accelerates in these difficult social and economic times. The brain research which Elaine Aron, Tom Boyce and others are undertaking can only lead to increased awareness of the plight of highly sensitive persons in a world gone awry.
For that reason, among many others in my personal life, I am especially optimistic as a new year begins and we continue the search for answers to the fibromyalgia questions which have evaded us for decades. Happy new year!