Category Archives: fear

AFFLICTED…Netflix documentary reviewed

“Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear”,Mark Twain

I  have watched all episodes of the documentary Afflicted on Netflix. My mind is reeling and disturbed. I am hoping that by writing this blog I can begin to piece together my thoughts which to this point are rambling and disjointed. I have heard from one reader who has said there is a group who are writing to ask Netflix to remove it. At this point I am neither for nor against this strategy.

For those of you who have not seen the documentary there are seven people portrayed with four alleged conditions: Multiple Chemical Sensitivities(MCS), in one case predominately mold, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS, otherwise known as myalic encephalomyelitis, ME),  electrical sensitivity and Chronic Lyme Disease. The term fibromyalgia has not been mentioned but the symptoms and life experiences are somewhat the same for many people.

Continue reading

Fibromyalgia and ‘Science’

“Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood”, Marie Curie

I recently heard a presentation from a distinguished scientist speaking about fibromyalgia. The audience seemed to be mostly comprised of people with fibromyalgia. He referred to fibromyalgia as a ‘terrible disease’. My immediate reaction was not very positive as I don’t believe that fibromyalgia is a disease, but rather a syndrome, yet he also referred to pain as a disease, which also surprised me. Language is so important to our understanding of this condition and I prefer to use the word dis-ease. If we feed into this idea of a disease, more and more researchers will continue to search for the elusive and non existent virus or bacteria or continue the search for hormonal issues, without an emphasis on psycho-social causation. Furthermore, there was much in the presentation on what the brain looks like after prolonged pain, but it seems to me that this is a chicken and egg dilemma. I would prefer that the focus be on what caused these changes rather than to assume that people with fibromyalgia are born with genetic defects. However, the question about whether or not we are born with unusual brain wiring or we acquire it from our early socialization is one which may never be answered.

Continue reading

Fibromyalgia, ‘goodism’, self-sacrifice,”giving yourself away”

“Self development is a higher duty than self sacrifice”, Elizabeth Stanton

As I read more and more about brain mapping and how to change the pain mappings in my brain I am reminded about how intensely I wrote in my book regarding the highly sensitive person (HSP, according to Elaine Aron). This is the ’empath’, the person who senses what other people are feeling and takes on the emotions of others as though they were her/his own( I don’t mean this in the usual sense of the ‘psychic’ person, or in any mystical way). I still stand by that description of the person with fibromyalgia. We are like a toxic sponge! Now, I believe that this type of person (mainly, but, of course not solely, women) has the personality characteristics of the self sacrificing, doing good for others (what  Dr. James Rochelle calls ‘goodism’) and ‘giving yourself away’ (a term my physiotherapist coined). When I think of Florence Nightingale on this May day, her birthday month, suffering from fibromyalgia, I think of her as a primary example of self sacrificing.

Continue reading

Is Fibromyalgia a ‘Psychosomatic’ Disorder?

” Trust one who has gone through it”, Virgil

Writing that words psychomatic, in fact, even thinking about the title makes me feel uncomfortable! Who wants to be labeled as one whose pain is thought to be “JUST in your head” implying it is not real? But, before we go off into a tailspin about that specific demeaning-sounding word, I should begin by saying what I now believe psychosomatic to mean. It certainly does not suggest that those of us with fibromyalgia  are hysterics who malinger just to get attention. But, maybe, just maybe, our pain is caused by emotions that are unconsciously deep seated, trapped in past trauma and ARE in our head (brain).  Such emotions as anger, sadness, anxiety, fear, rage  and others can be kept in a closed segment of our minds without taking them out to examine and work with consciously. After all, pain perceptions come from our body’s nociceptors, funneled up to the brain. Psychosomatic does not mean the pain is not real, but that pain comes from the brain in the stored memories.

Being female, a person of colour, economically disadvantaged, or of marginalized races or ethnic groups, or a sexual orientation that differs from the majority, is disabled, or anyone who has been victimized/abused in some way, or has been taught to care for others to the exclusion of themselves can usually result in a plethora of thoughts and feelings that eventually evoke painful body experiences. Other types of pain, like that from surgery or an accident also become stored in our brains inciting fear upon recall. What if those thoughts of emotional or physical trauma become lodged in our brain (the amygdala wherein lies the ‘flight or fight’ tendency) and are expressed as pain in various parts of our bodies? That is what I mean by psychosomatic. Our brain has stored those unhappy emotions and feelings and they may manifest themselves through painful bodily sensations. The brain then takes those stored unpleasant memories in the unconscious part of the brain and when stress or excitement occurs, activates the nervous system to take flight or fight because there is perceived danger!

Continue reading