Fibromyalgia and Trauma Memory

” Most of us have unhealthy thoughts and emotions that have either developed as a result of trauma or hardships in their childhood, or the way they were raised”, Steven Seagal

mindfulscientific american 001It would seem that those of us with fibromyalgia have developed the condition at an early age which may have taken a tremendous shock, accident, or crisis to bring about a full blown fibromyalgia. Some of us  have had repeated crises in our sensitive lives and  did not even experience a single unusual occurrence for the syndrome to develop. Nonetheless, we are a group of people with specific personality traits that allow us to dwell on trauma that seems to be stuck in our minds/brains reactivating the experience more frequently than  is healthy. So, how in fact can we find ways to train the brain to refocus away from past trauma? The work of Dr. Richie Davidson, neuroscientist, has presented us with the  interesting option  of “spending as little as 30 minutes per day training our minds to do something different” (p.52 Mindful August 214) which can result in changing the brain. To that end I had decided that quilting was not the answer as I had previously tried that and not had much success (see blog Fibromyalgia and Multitasking, May 17, 2009). Instead I would try my hand at writing about personal issues.

I have  begun to write short stories of my life, exploring reasons why I am the way I am, an anxiety riddled person with a tendency to over react to any kind of stimulation which then begins the vicious cycle of pain and fatigue flare-ups. Writing these 2 or 3 pages about events in my life, for example, about my first day of school, often brings about unhappy memories. So, I have been training my mind to do something different, but in fact, it is not exactly a healthy endeavour. Or is it? The two friends with whom  I shared this first day of school story had different responses to it. Each are valid. One friend suggested it was a good practice, then after I had written bad stories, I should print, tear up and discard them forever. The other friend reminded me that I have written before about reactivating the amygdala to relive a bad experience, and writing about past trauma was not a good idea.

Ah, but back to Mindfulness- living in the moment- not the past nor the future, but the here and now. That is, after all, the idea that whether I am eating a meal, driving the car, being with friends I am just being without judgment-  I am conscious of the actual moment, not reliving past negative events. I have to train my mind to do something different that is pleasing and not anxiety provoking.  It should also be repetitive and creative. Hmmm, whatever shall it be?

2 comments

  1. Samy says:

    Just reading the deifnition you have written in this post about fibromyalgia is quite depressing!Chronic pain, fatigue, tender points they all seem to add up to a life of misery when you just read the words on this page.But I do know from my contact with those who have got fibromyalgia, that the person’s spirit can help fibro sufferers to rise above all of this and still get pleasure from their families and the things that are achievable.Life goes on and we can achieve so much when we have the right attitude.

  2. Barbara Keddy
    Barbara Keddy says:

    Yes, having a positive attitude is certainly key to living with any chronic condition, Samy! I quite agree. Oftentimes we become so absorbed in our pain that it is difficult to look at it from without. This is where Mindfulness comes in to play! Letting go of our challenges takes discipline and daily practice. Gratitude for what we do have in terms of social support and ability to carry on with our daily lives is sometimes difficult to do, especially with flare-ups. One day at a time, living in the moment and not giving in to the fear of flare-ups is key!
    best wishes,
    Barbara

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