Redefining Fibromyalgia: Links to Anxiety and the Highly Sensitive Person

“My anxiety remains an unhealed wound that, at times, holds me back and fills me with shame-but it may also be, at the same time, a source of strength and a bestower of certain blessings”, Scott Stossel

I believe fibromyalgia is an extreme case of prolonged anxiety that began in early life, perhaps in utero, or is even genetic. Furthermore, the concept of a ‘highly sensitive person’ , Elaine Aron’s works of several decades, has changed for me to also mean the highly anxious person, that is, the two are interchangeable. Having just read both Smith’s Monkey Mind and Stossel’s  My Age of Anxiety memoirs  with his science and historical account of anxiety, I have become convinced that fibromyalgia is another word for heightened anxiety in a highly sensitive person.

What are the perceived social implications of these three terms? Telling someone about fibromyalgia is like speaking a foreign language. Most people are unclear about this dis-ease and their eyes cloud over when you tell them about it. It is difficult enough for the teller to describe, let alone the listener to understand. Inevitably they will ask if it is something like arthritis of the muscles, or even worse, they might be labeling us as hypochondriacs. Now shifting for a moment and imagine telling someone you are a highly sensitive person! There is usually a little eyebrow lifting as the listener thinks one is being rather coy, attempting to shed a positive light on one’s delicate, self. But there is a difference if admitting you have a great deal of anxiety. Inevitably the person hearing this begins to tell you about medications or other strategies there are for this ‘psychological’ problem. Of the three terms obviously anxiety is the one which is more understandable.

I have  explored and compared the ‘symptoms’ of fibromyalgia from the hundreds of blog comments on this site, my own experiences and the research I have undertaken over the years. The ‘symptoms’ (or to be more positive regarding the highly sensitive person- the characteristics) of both the HSP and  the  anxiety  prone individual are basically the same! They include such symptoms as sleep disturbances, enhanced startle reflex, sensitivities to weather changes, bright light intolerance and social anxiety. Physically there are often muscular pain, tingling of arms and hands, restless legs, shortness of breath, and gastric distress. Depression, phobias, hyper-vigilance, fatigue, fainting, panic, loud noise and , overly empathetic are common. Anxious and highly sensitive persons are often  easily overwhelmed, cautious, reflective, sometimes have low self esteem, and overly concerned about health. Often they are highly intuitive, easily over stimulated,  prone to catastrophic thinking, constant worriers, and apprehensive. These are among many of both physical and psychological states and challenges of the highly anxious, highly sensitive, hyper-aroused fibromyalgia person. Additionally most of these personality traits began in childhood when the young person was usually considered shy and insecure.

Not all of these personality types have every one of the same symptoms or traits, but the similarities are quite astounding. Not all are negative either- who doesn’t want to be intuitive,  and empathetic? However, it is when these traits are excessive that they become problematic. Sometimes  though for those of us with the these characteristics, our weaknesses are our strengths. Elaine Aron, for example, describes the traits of the highly sensitive person as a gift, while Scott Stossel suggests that anxiety can be seen as strength,  resulting in a hard working and diligent person. So far few have written about the gifts or the strength of those of us suffering from fibromyalgia. Is it because this dis-ease is the end result of life long anxiety and hypersensitivity is not actually a clear cut condition in and of itself? It would seem that the amygdala,  the two nerve centers on either side of the thalamus in the brain that assesses danger, is in over drive, that is, it responds much more quickly to unexpected stimuli than that of most people.

I have recently read Stossel’s book from cover to cover and I experienced a visceral response to his intense pain. Nonetheless, his scientific and historical analysis of anxiety is one which everyone with fibromyalgia should read. It is almost an extreme form of fibromyalgia which he is experiencing. His inability to differentiate about whether or not anxiety is a nurture or nature phenomenon is one I have grappled with for decades regarding the highly sensitive person and fibromyalgia. My main concern about the book is that he only briefly touches on the issue of neuroplasticity which is, in my view, the main hope for us- whichever label we have attached to our challenges.  The ability of the brain to change is one of the exciting findings of the last several decades. The hope of cognitive behavioral therapy through Mindfulness Meditation and self compassion, while learning to live in the moment, without judgement is, in my view, the way out of the struggles we often face  and could have been a better ending to his work. This was the limitation to his book, otherwise I highly recommend it for those of us afflicted with anxiety/ fibromyalgia.

As we call ourselves highly sensitive, we can see benefits of our personal characteristics- intuitive, empathetic, hardworking, often creative and the ability to thrive in spite of the challenges of every day living. Through a non- judgmental acceptance of our strengths, rather than our weaknesses there is hope for a better quality of life.

34 thoughts on “Redefining Fibromyalgia: Links to Anxiety and the Highly Sensitive Person

  1. Lars Clausen

    Wow, Barbara, this is an amazing post. Matches my experience of working with people with fibromyalgia. Have you read Ginevra Liptan’s FIGURING OUT FIBROMYALGIA? She’s a medical doctor, fibromyalgia specialist, who herself has fibromyalgia. She writes on page 28. “Ultimately all the symptoms of fibromyalgia stem from abnormal activation of the fight-or-flight nervous system.” And then on page 56 she writes. “The muscles and fascia of the body are clenched in fibromyalgia in constant preparation for fight or flight…Medical science has not yet figured out how to turn off the switch of the stress response that gets stuck in the ON position in fibromyalgia. When we do that we will have found a cure.”

    Although “medical science” has not yet figured out how to turn of the switche to the stress response, I believe this can be easily accomplished – I show a simple method in my book FIBROMYALGIA RELIEF, but other consciousness/meditation/awareness processes can also work.

    The real breakthrough, I believe, is that we now know more about how the brain works, the recent discovery of MEMORY RECONSOLIDATION. We now have laboratory findings that the old stored traumas of our life can be neutralized. The emotional content of our memories stores in the synapses of our brains with a molecule called a peptide. This is an understanding that goes beyond standard neuroplasticity and its why I believe that anxieties – past, present, and future, can be permanently calmed. And, in complete agreement with your post here – bringing calm chemistry to the agitations of anxiety can make an enormous difference in our physical health.

    I am so looking forward to our conversation after you review FIBROMYALGIA RELIEF. Thank you so much for your journey of exploration – I feel like we are meeting at a crossroads, and looking forward to the pathway ahead. Lars

  2. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Thank you Lars:
    I believe we are on the cutting edge of finding out more about this mysterious dis-ease of the central nervous system!
    I will feature your book on my next blog…

  3. Valda Garner

    Hi Barbara, I too believe that there were genetic roadmaps already in place before birth and it was just a matter of time before fibromyalgia would appear. I am an identical twin, but my sister doesn’t have fibromyalgia. She is an extreme narcissist and I am a highly sensitive person. Interesting, aye? When people ask me about fibromyalgia I tell them that it is more than a painful disease. I tell them it is a disease of the central nervous system that results in pain and extreme fatigue as well as other symptoms. That seems to satisfy their curiosity and stops the judgemental comments and raised eyebrows. Your post is very good and describes the every day difficulties of this illness. I always appreciate your perspective! Warmly, Valda

  4. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Hi again Valda:
    I agree with what you say except I don’t believe that fibromyalgia is a disease but rather a dis-ease!
    Hmm, I hope your sister doesn’t mind what you called her (?), but it is interesting that as identical twins she did not inherit the gene, if, in fact, there is a genetic pre-disposition to the condition.
    There are so many unanswered questions to this mystery but I intuitively believe we are becoming closer to the relationships between and among various characteristics!
    Thank you so much for your comments.

  5. Valda Garner

    Hi again Barbara, I have been interested in personality and genetic predisposition for a long time. Even though identical twins are genetically the same, a recent article described the difference between the twins as playing the same tune differently. Interesting. I grew up with a narcissistic mother and sister, married a narcissistic man and had a narcissistic daughter. Narcissists can be quite mean both physcially and emotionally so I am no longer in contact with my family members except for infrequent phone contact with my mother. That was the trauma I experienced as a child and then as an adult. Genetics are so complicated and it is difficult to determine how fibromyalgia is connected. I do believe that I would have expressed this illness sooner or later in my life. Underlying anxiety was always present and no wonder! Good to talk with you. Valda

  6. Barbara Keddy Post author

    I am so sorry you do not have contact with your family, Valda. This must be very painful for you. I hope you have other good social supports.
    Take care,

  7. April

    I completely agree with this article you wrote. I have watched my anxiety levels grow over the years since childhood. These fibromyalgia symptoms have waxed and waned for the last 35 years in direct response to the amount of stress and anxiety in my life. If I can remain calm and quiet…my fibro symptoms calm right down. I now have my own bedroom since my husband sees my need for rest and complete silence and notices my improvement this past 6 months. I have PTSD and am looking forward to this ICE method helping me and will be trying EMDR soon. For now though, complete peace calms things down pain wise and Im learning to stop and control my thoughts better so I don’t spiral into a stress reaction. I always knew this Fibro was from anxiety gone wild. I completely recovered from fibro when I was in my twenties after ending a relationship. I have figured out I absolutely must have my own bedroom to distress. Like one of those chambers where you lie in and have no sound or stimulus. Peace. Thank you for writing this article.

  8. Barbara Keddy Post author

    This is almost like Virginia Wolfe’s Room of her Own book! Dear April, thank you so much for your comments. They are so heartfelt! Lars will appreciate your comments too. Let us both know how you make out with ICE,but do try Mindfulness Meditation as well. Actually I don’t find them so dissimilar. It is peace we are trying to attain and in that lovely room of yours you find it!
    Very best wishes,

  9. Stuart Clark

    I agree with this article, I’ve suffered with Fibromyalgia from childhood (identified only 6 years ago) and always been highly sensitive and had anxiety. Usually the condition is very mild with pain and morning stiffness, however, and as from march 14, following a long term relationship break-up, anxiety and wide spread muscle pain, poor sleep, and fatigue has swept in. Its like being in a cycle, anxiety feeds the Fibro, and Fibro pain increases the anxiety.

    Thank you very much for convincing me I’m not crazy (friends and family don’t really understand)


  10. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Hello again Stuart:
    I agree what seems trivial to some is a crisis for others. There can be little doubt that anxiety plays a big role in fibromyalgia. I am happy that yours is very mild. You must be doing something good for your body to have kept this at this level.
    Thanks for your comments here and on other blogs,

  11. Stuart Clark

    Hi Barbara
    Many thanks, heres how Ive battled if off in the past:
    1, condense sleep to only 7hrs per night (no naps or lay ins)
    2, High protein diet, also plenty of fruit/veg organic if possible
    3, settle the mind the best way you can, live for today only (dont think of yesterday or worry about tomorrow)
    4, take a good quality mineral supplement daily
    5, get at least 2 hours day light or more
    6, exercise as much as you can (dont burn out however) and grade up slowly
    7, occupy the mind (take up a new hobby)
    8, Join a support group

    Stuart x

  12. Marta Nemeth

    Dear Barbara Keddy,

    I have found finally your site, after so much wandering. Thank you so much for being brave to write about the connection of sensitivity, long lasted anxiety and fibromyalgia. I have got answer for many of my questions about myself.

    I am excited a little to write now, and it can cause some confusion in my thoughts, but I try to be as much logical as I can.
    I have been suffering for long while from strange pains, which I can feel when I touch my skin – at my hair, my jaws, elbows, ankles, knees. The intensity of the pain is changeable. They just can come very suddenly, then being lighter in a while. Yes, I have had chronic fatigue, constant, strong, anxiety, “rheumatoid arthritis” at my fingers and toes, and very hard food allergies, intolerances – many of them. Nobody put them together labelling it by one name: fibromyalgia. But, I am sure, it is.

    I have tried to find the source of all these suffering (I had also hard migraine attacks from my 12 yrs till my 57-58 yrs), thinking that they have to have common root.
    I had many painful facts from my childhood. I could feel their hard psychological attacks on me, on my whole life.
    That is why I read the famous book of Alice Miller: The Drama of the Gifted Child; and I started to understand the psychological connections of my health situation a little more.

    Yes, I am a very sensitive person. Maybe I was that kind originally, but my very rude, and “conditional love” = emotional black-mailing and rough history ruled childhood just turned me more sensitive for the NEEDS of OTHERS. I have had to always give myself up for the interests of others i.e. family, family pride, the other poorer/weaker ones and so on. I was trained for the self-sacrifice by my childhood’s emotional black mailing and more.
    The real “I” has been lost somewhere. And I got all of the health troubles in exchange.
    Fibromyalgia to sensitive persons with constant anxiety. Yes, I am here.

    Just now reading your website and the comments I can see much more clearly, thank you for that. Thank you for your work, it helps me a lot, Marta from Hungary

    P.S. Stuart’s Clark advice also gives me hope. Thanks.

  13. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Marta: Thank you so much for responding to my website from Hungary. As Stuart Clark and others have pointed out there are strategies for calming the nervous system but in fact, it takes discipline. This is frequently difficult to do, that is, living in the moment as Mindfulness Meditation advises. Catching ourselves when we are immersed in painful moments by focussing on ways to stop those thoughts is key to people like us. A lifetime of chronic anxiety is quite a challenge for people with fibromyalgia. I hope you will continue to comment on the various blogs as it is interesting to note that fibromyalgia is a world wide phenomenon that affects millions.
    Very best wishes,

  14. Nicole

    Dear All:

    I am 31 and am 90% sure I have Fibro. For the last several years my chronic pain has gotten progressively worse and more debilitating. Its very frustrating as I have always been a dramatic and sensitive person and those closest to me see the correlation with stress and feel I “manifest” my pain for attention. I am very stubborn and know I have a lot of mind control when I am aware of what I’m doing; however….why would I intentionally inflict pain on myself for attention? Doesn’t that seem counter productive. It’s very reassuring to read how many of those with Fibro I can directly relate to. I’m comforted to hear the time and struggle you have all gone through and to realize that maybe I really am on the right path to diagnosis.

    For me. I have always been an emotional, sensitive and empathic person. I take others pain very personally and can sometimes (given situations) feel the emotional aspects of their pain, which in turn wears on my spirit and body. It took me a long time (and my husband) to realize that I was attracted / and affected by those who’s pain I try and alleviate. I no longer allow those who repeatedly cause their on problems in my life. I have always been exceptionally jumpy, scared incredibly easily and feel I’m always on alert for someone to “jump out at me”. I Ihave battled depression/suicide attempts my entire life. I just recently sought therapy because my family/friends felt I was bi-polar, was mis-diagnosed as bi-polar when I reacted suicidal to medication, when they then deemed me as borderline personality. But after much research and feeling that’s just not the answer…I feel all my “issues” fall under fibro.

    It wasn’t until this past year when my husband and I had gone through some exceptionally stressful times that WE started associating my pain with stress. Stress= my body screaming inside. I feel like my muscles want to jump out of my body and are arguing with me when I tell them what to do. If I remain in any position for a prolonged period of time I feel as if I’m moving cement limbs and feel pins and needles until I can “work it out” by moving around. I have had sleep issues for several years, ( I feel like I never dream) and I often wake up to pee when I have barely anything to pee…I think this is because I’m just not in deep sleep. My arms/shoulders will fell ache some nights making it impossible to be comfortable and my hips have been an issue since I was at least 17. I crack my hips while walking, they will spasm/pop and I will lose my balance and sometimes even fall (although I can usually catch myself on walls or railing) I never realized I had adjusted my movements until my husband pointed out how I “get out of a chair”. I always brace myself when rising from a seat and realize now it’s because of how stiff my hips always are and how often I need to fall back into the chair or try again slower to get up after sitting for a while. There are days I can physically close my hand to open something but it is so painful I feel like I can’t and I must command my muscles consciously to do what I want.

    As a child at about 2, I was attacked by the family dog and nearly killed. He grabbed baby me by the throat and shook me like a rag doll until my mother knocked him unconscious with a shoe. I had stitches internally and externally at my right jugular vein and have scars around my lips(micro) a scar on my neck (about 1.5 inches) and a scar under my ear. I’m not afraid of dogs, but I have this fight or flight fear whenever I see teeth or growling dogs…I can’t handle it and my brain can only rationalize to run. I have always been healthy and rarely sick until my mid 20s. I had a rough few years and after a traumatic break up, woke up in my sleep one night to go to the bathroom and fell down the stairs and landed on my neck. I didn’t see a Dr. for 2 years and found out that I had a straightened neck and that my top vertebrae (c1?) is at a 30 degree tilt. Since this time I have had pretty ridiculous muscle pain during times of extreme stress / fatigue or exertion. I was also about a year ago diagnosed with an Egg allergy and can not eat anything remotely touching eggs. (I found this out by my first Dr. visit concerning my muscular issues, because my husband was having to pick me up if I sat down on the floor)…once I stopped eating eggs the inflammation has gotten better and I now have more of flare ups rather than constant pain with the exception of my lower back.

    My husband has a hard time understanding my pain, he can’t relate to it and is naturally (from his life experiences) a very tough person. He has a hard time understanding that I am ALWAYS in pain. He doesn’t understand when I cry for seemingly no reason and have no control of it…that its my body releasing some of that pain feeling. That I can always feel my lower spine and know exactly how I can and can not move. I have done the first rounds of Dr tests and even was sent to an Oncologist who said “we can keep looking for something but it’s like a needle in a haystack” and after $5k in bills I can’t afford to go through that again without an actual answer.

    Do you all feel that I am on the right avenue or have any other possibilities I should consider.

  15. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Nicole: Thank you for your insights and sharing the story of your anxiety and experiences. Please do consider Mindfulness Meditation as an option as there are so many who are benefitting from that practice. Light exercise and avoiding caffeine are also highly recommended. This is a difficult time of the year with changing seasons and the central nervous system is highly overactive for those of us with fibromyalgia. Have compassion for yourself and be gentle with yourself.
    Best wishes,

  16. Valda Garner

    Hi! The lack of your family’s empathy is an indication that your family members may be narcisistic personalities. The fact that you have spent so much on finding a diagnosis is an indication that you may have fibro. Go see a pain specialist. They are more in tune with fibromyalgia and can diagnose you. Fibro is a complex neurological illness that involves all body systems. That means you may need a number of doctors to adddress your deteriorating health. You also may decide to treat your health problems naturally. Everyone chooses what is best for themselves. Blessings to you in your search of answers.

  17. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Thanks for your comments to Nicole, Valda! You are right fibromyalgia is very complex and often health care professionals roll their eyes or tune out when the word is mentioned. Finding the right doctor involves many searches. It is very frustrating and discouraging. I appreciate your in-put very much,

  18. Valda Garner

    Hi Barbara, I am talking to more and more chronically ill people with fibro, lupus and other comorbidities that have family members that are quite abusive and unsupportive. I experienced that myself due to narcissism in my family. Many spouses are controlling and abusive (domestic violence) with these chronically ill people. I find this to be an interesting twist to this puzzle. No wonder anxiety and depression is also a feature in fibro. Hoping you are as well as you can be. Warmly, Valda

  19. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Thanks Valda: it seems as though I keep coming back to anxiety and stress in women’s lives as the leading cause of fibro, certainly domestic violence and other forms of abuse leads to a hyper-aroused nervous system. Aw, how do we survive in a sexist, racist, homophobic, militaristic, classist society that meets aggression with aggression? It is difficult not to experience depression in a world gone awry.
    Doing ok but struggling with what I consider to be overprescribed, overmedicated body:-(

  20. Valda Garner

    Yes, it’s a tough world and we are both survivors. So sorry you are dealing with med problems. My meds are stable at present, but I went through some tough days/months with medications like Lyrica. Not able to take those meds. Take good care. It’s good to briefly chat. Warmest regards, Valda

  21. Barbara Keddy Post author

    I have decided to give up Gabapentin after a friend told me that it is referred to as “20 lbs in a bottle”! Too much weight gain for me.
    Love hearing from you,

  22. Lisl Moore

    I have been reading the comments posted. Interesting as I see myself in many of the comments. I began having chronic pain/fibro symptoms after the birth of my 2nd child at age 32. I was a very sensitive and anxious child. I had my first panic attack at age 25 and diagnosed with generalized anxiety with Panic Disorder. My fibro symptoms are worse when I am under stress (good or bad). I struggle to work full time but I am finding this increasingly more difficult to work 5 full days a week(I am now 48). My symptoms are too unpredictable and I find myself calling in sick more often in the past year. It seems that a minor cold or any other medical problems exacerbate my fibromyalgia as well. I am reluctant to apply for disability as I hear the process is difficult and stressful, although not sure how much longer I will be able to avoid a disability claim.
    The connection between anxiety, highly sensitive persons and fibro seems very plausible. Is there research that has or is being done on this?

  23. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Ah, Lisl:
    Your story is so common to us all. It is my view that there is a connection between HSP, the hyperaroused central nervous system, anxiety and fibromyalgia. This is what I have been speculating about these many years. While many researchers are hunting for physiological causes I suspect it is a combination of psycho-social factors which may be precipitated by a genetic predisposition. Who knows if it is nature or nurture or both, but the hundreds of comments on these blogs point toward a particular personality type.
    Anxiety, panic, stress (as you say good and bad) are so common among us all, but over exaggerated to the point that the merest thing can set off a flare-up. It is like a cat on a hot tin roof! Difficult at this time of year because of weather changes, time changes, holidays approaching, but sometimes it can be just the visit from a long lost friend.
    It is challenging for us all.
    My best wishes to you,

  24. Ursula Chokker

    Hi Barbara,

    An excellent article, again. Thank you.

    For myself I had made the empathy and pain connection way before I was diagnosed and took, which some might seem, a drastic step. I trained to be a Therapist, and I have taken Uni courses on Altruism and empathy. I figured I needed to learn how to deal with others pain. Or rather how to be there for them and distance myself in a healthy manner. The Uni courses also taught me about good and bad empathy and how we can disable people with it.

    My son was abused by his step mother, and when I finally found out my anxiety and empathy for him as well as my mother instinct went into overdrive. Cotton wool wouldn’t have done a better job in protecting him after. Sadly because my reaction was such my son heard the message that the world is a bad place and that he needs protection. He became highly anxious to very unhealthy levels. My empathy and anxiety had disabled him and I’m kind of waiting for him to tell me he has Fibro as I’m sure a Trauma like that and my reaction are exactly things which feeds Fibromyalgia.

    Yes, I see empathy as a gift. I see Fibromyalgia as a gift as I have had to learn such a lot and continuesly have to dwell deeper in myself to find ways of coping.

    Being highly sensitive can be something wonderful. I have safed a man from a fire by smelling electrical burn. My sense of taste is extraordinarily so much so that I can taste the salt in the butter and my hearing is extremely sensitive.

    Fibromyalgia has allowed me to live a life with a raised awareness which I prob wouldn’t do otherwise. It acts as a translator for me and keeps on giving me hints with a baseball bat if I am not congruent in my being. And that side of my sensitive and anxiety and Fibromyalgia I wouldn’t want to miss for anything.

    Barbara, I love your articles as they are always so spot on and pushing all the right questions and thought processes. Thank you again for taking the time to write these and answering each and every single comment. You are a very special woman indeed.

  25. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Ursula: Your comments arrived at a low point in my week. They arrived at about 6 a.m. on a cold, snowy, dark day and could not have been more welcome. After another sleepless night with leg pains, your lovely comments uplifted me.
    I am so sorry about your son. I know what it is like to raise children in an overprotective environment and watch them grow into adults as highly anxious people (myself included from a highly overprotective mother).
    If we are reflective people, as I know you are, accompanying this is a profound sense of guilt as we watch the child become an adult. Parenting isn’t easy at the best of times. Fibromyalgia parents are always on guard for themselves and for others, particularly their children. We face many challenges.
    I agree we are on heightened alert all the time and all our senses are in tune to the environment.
    The sounds in a movie theatre are especially terrible for me as the ads and trailers are so loud and obnoxious. Even the smell of popcorn overwhelms me so in spite of the fact that I love movies going to theatres is difficult for me.
    Small children screaming and playing, along with their fast moving pace is another of the struggles I face. The list is endless.
    It is difficult oftentimes to think of these senses as a gift. I need people like you to remind me. You are a heroine for saving that man’s life!
    Best wishes,

  26. julie

    Its 2am in the morning and my insomnia is visiting as usual! Best part is l found your website and realised l am reading a very real version of my life story and an excellent explanation for my fibromyalgia.Thank you for your brilliant website and l will follow closely with much interest!

  27. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Julia: I thought of you last night when I awoke at 2 a.m. with leg pains. You aren’t alone. I believe many of us suffer through sleepless nights feeling despair. But then morning comes and although groggy at least it is daylight. Things seem so much worse at night! I am happy you are enjoying my blogs.
    Best wishes,

  28. Jade

    Is it possible to retrain/reprogram/rewire the brain after getting fibro/CFS/IBS?
    I’m a woman in her mid to late twenties who has all three of these chronic issues. I am as of yet unofficially diagnosed but my doctors are of no help. They are refusing to send me for scans such as MRIs/CT Scan or referring me to a neurologist or chronic pain specialist.
    I have never gone to war; never been in a car crash; never got a major virus or disease; I’m straight edge so I don’t abuse drugs or alcohol; however I suspect I was raised by a narcissistic or borderline personality disordered mother and have been bullied/lost a father/ moved several times.
    I’m in the process of seeking professional help for emotional health. I have read several articles that childhood emotional neglect or abuse is being linked to lower sensitization parts of the brain in children and so these underdeveloped parts lead to abnormal levels of functional decoupling in adults…..

  29. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Hello Jade:
    I have always written that fibromyalgia/CFS/IBS/PTSD are all related and are known to develop in highly sensitive persons who have had difficult childhoods or prolonged stresses in adulthood. Having a narcissistic parent who is also labelled as a PD can be very traumatic for a child. War can be raging inside even though a person is not in an actual war zone. When we think of the missions of people who have fibro we are identifying persons who have had traumatic experiences of many sorts.
    I hope your therapist can help you with sorting through the effects of a parent who had so many challenges.
    Very best wishes,

  30. Rebecca Blaeford

    for fibromyalgia patients: i am conducting research into the effect of stress on pain severity, seeing whether stress is a significant factor and which stress coping methods may be the most effective. I’m also looking into whether certain personality traits such as perfectionism, neuroticism, and anxiety feed into this heightened stress reaction which feeds pain. If anyone is interested in providing me with some valuable insight, please follow this link in your browsers to complete the online survey. thankyou in advance

  31. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Good luck Rebecca: Anxiety is a precursor to fibromyalgia and the personality traits you describe are certainly the ones that we can all ascribe to.
    Best wishes,

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