“To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom”, Bertrand Russell
I believe that those of us with central sensitization, that is, fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue , or to call it by another name -“post traumatic stress disorder”, all suffer from chronic anxiety/ fear. These terms are , in my view, interchangeable. They can keep us imprisoned without recourse and in a state of hopelessness. In fact, the US Department of Health and Human Services has developed a new name which can even be part of our repertoire, that is, “Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disorder”. In short, more diagnostic criteria are available for health professionals who are interested in tagging us. It is true that we have little energy along with our other challenges, but are we just a collection of symptoms?
For almost a decade now I have been writing about how those of us with these conditions ( read: condition) have options regarding a better quality of life. Yet, in spite of my preaching I find myself, like others, often recounting yet another symptom of central sensitization almost ignoring the gestalt. Note for example the hundreds of comments or ‘hits’ I have on the two most popular blogs of 1) itching and 2) tingling and numbness of arms. One would never have imagined that these two symptoms would be so problematic! Yet, those of us who suffer from specific symptoms focus on them often to the exclusion of what can be done to improve our daily lives.
The intent here is to gather together the ways in which we can begin to take control of our lives in lieu of medicalizing our very existence. After all, I have often written that central sensitization is not a disease but a dis- ease.
This is a summary of the mosaic of treatments:
1) Talk therapy: We have become highly sensitive persons either because we were born with that characteristic or developed it early in life. We have had past trauma that has resulted in repressed emotions that need to be attended to with a professional therapist.
2) Mild to moderate exercise, in particular walking.
3) Mindful Meditation.
4) Body work involving touch, such as massage, reflexology, chiropracty , Jin Shin, physiotherapy or osteopathy.
5) Movement therapy such as chi gong, yoga, tai chi.
6) Avoiding over-stimulating and stressful situations as much as possible.
7) Taking on a new, repetitive, creative undertaking that will help us change our brain: drawing, painting, quilting to name a few.
8) Avoiding caffeine and other foods that are too stimulating.
9) Do not over medicate. If possible medical marijuana through oils or other edibles is a good alternative, especially in regard to sleep.
It must be our intent to change our brain. Unless we embrace the concept of neuroplasticity ( that is, the capacity of our brains to change) and understand that it is up to us to become the masters/ mistresses of our own fate we will live forever in fear and hopelessness, dwelling on symptoms.
On a personal note: I must practice what I preach. It isn’t easy.