Fibromyalgia: the mosaic of treatments

“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.

Happy spring from  eastern Canada. It is slow in coming


6 thoughts on “Fibromyalgia: the mosaic of treatments

  1. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Hi Bonnie: I know what you mean by “good days”, oftentimes they seem far and few between but they certainly are worthwhile. I hope you are having one today!

  2. Ursula Chokker

    Hi Barbara,

    ever so often I find myself coming back to your page as you have always seemed so ‘spot on’ with your articles. So first of all a big thank you for taking on the work of spreading your thoughts, experiences and feelings.

    Like you I have had years long of experience of managing or ‘changing my brain back’ to ‘normal mode’ (normal being relative here). And like you I have come across all of the components you mentioned in the above article.

    For myself one of the most important aspects of ‘getting better again’ is that we can’t change our brain back to ‘normal mode’ but we can learn to change the way we think about past events and experiences. This is one of the most important aspects I find in the whole list. (Counselling)

    Having something like Fibromyalgia can in itself, be a traumatic event. In my case it was taken highly out of contents because of a very unhealthy relationship I found myself in and through that had no support whatsoever concerning my diagnosis. Quite the opposite as my partners thoughts and feelings about my wellbeing were taken on board unconsciously when I ran out of energy to fight against the stigmatism.

    As the relationship was a foundational block of my present life I had to learn how to end the relationship first and get myself onto as safe ground as possible before the real work on recovery can begin.

    I am sure that by changing my present circumstances I will be able too, in time, revert a lot of my brain to a healthier state and that that is for myself the key to a more tpainfree life.

    I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia before that relationship but the difference to the way my Fibre elevated during this 15 year long relationship is just unspeakable and I can already feel at times the progress I have made in recovery since ending this relationship.

    So maybe a review with a counsellor or therapist might not start necessarily with the illness but with the life you are actually giving in today.

    One step at a time. I have learned that when I have a really and Fibre attack I have unknowingly crossed a boundary in myself which needed looking at. So listen to what your body’s are telling you but don’t get stuck with it. Work with it and deal with the psychological issues behind it. I think that is the combination which so far seemed most effective at least for myself.

  3. Barbara Keddy Post author

    Dear Ursula:
    I wish we all had your insights and courage. You certainly have a good understanding about the issues that precipitate flareups and what is unhealthy for you! It always seems to me we take one step forward and two backwards if we don’t develop an understanding about the issues in our lives that lead to more psychic and physiological pain.
    I’m so happy you continue to read my blogs. Please keep in touch.
    Kind regards,

  4. Ursula Chokker

    ? Your Blogs are a massive part of my personal recovery.
    They either give me hope, or comfort (that I’m not on my own when it does go one step forward and two steps back). They explain things to me I would have taken ages to figure out myself or they confirm that with some of the things I am thinking I’m not totally of target. Other times they remind me of things i once knew but forgot again or they give me a completely different angle of thinking and feeling.

    I don’t believe Fibromyalgia is ‘all in the head’ , definitely not in the way some people think in any case. But I do believe if you are dealing with something like Fibromyalgia or similar that we do need to look at all of the picture and treat the whole body including the mind.

    My biggest AHA moment actually came when I had a breakdown (or what is called an acute severe stress reaction) . I was able to follow the origin of it all the way back to an incident which was when I was 14. That is ca 30 years ago. Yes, it was triggered off in the present but had originated from back then.

    That is only however one small piece in the puzzle. However, by going back to my childhood I am finding slowly at least some of the origins of my Fibromyalgia and am slowly resolving baggage I have carried about all these years. In my eyes it’s no wonder my body is reacting so stressed as I was in constant flight, fight but mainly freeze mode because of my past.

    My hope is with Blogs like yours and us all sharing our thoughts and experiences we are helping each other to not only further our awareness but also to improve life slowly bit by bit.

    That is what your blog has done for me and for that I’m utterly grateful.

    Thank you Barbara Keddy. I really do appreciate all the time and effort and thoughts you put into this blog and know that you have helped me a great deal.

    Take care Ursula

  5. Barbara Keddy Post author

    What a pleasure it is to hear from you, Ursula. I find it so encouraging as I often wonder if I should continue with this website as there are so many out there. Then I read this encouraging and complimentary letter from you and I am uplifted.THANK YOU!

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