Changing your life …and a bit about stress and fibromyalgia.

So fibromyalgia… is a bitch. Pardon my French.

I was stressed. I had been stressed for a lot longer than I was probably aware of. It wasn’t until 3 years ago I was at the doctor and he asked me how I was coping with my mother being terminally ill that the dam broke and I sniffled my way through “It is so hard, so unbelievably hard to watch her wither away!” (I don’t cry in front of other people… strong woman, right?! Yeah, too damn strong!)  He gave a referral to a stress-psychologist – the pressure of being divorced (my choice!), moving, getting a job, working as a teacher with all that entails that isn’t actually teaching, being a single parent – and both my father and I trying to take care of my terminally ill mother, got the better of me.

But it wasn’t until I couldn’t move from the aching pain in my muscles and I utterly and totally exhausted, no, it wasn’t until I slammed into that wall at 100 mph that I began truly listening to what my body had been trying to tell me… I needed to slow down and re-evaluate my life.

So I sat there in March diagnosed with stress and fibromyalgia and complained to my psychologist that I didn’t feel like I had hit rock bottom yet… she looked at me and asked; “Well, do you need to hit rock bottom? And who’s to say you’re not there yet?”

Looking back now I know I was at my rock bottom, I couldn’t get any lower. I am by nature a grinder – which of course is what got me into trouble in the first place: I don’t really throw in the towel, I never said “no”, I did what I felt I had to do in order to keep everybody around me happy – including my management/colleagues. My rock bottom is not one where I crawl into a corner weeping and give up, my rock bottom is a place where I cry for 10 minutes at night in the bathroom, dry my eyes, take a deep breath and get up in the morning to grind through another day… desperately trying to ignore my emotions and my body screaming for my attention.

So to all you “grinders” and HSPs out there… please, please, please stop and listen to your emotions and your body!

As I have written earlier I set out seven years ago to change myself, to be a happier, better version of me, someone who never talks bad about other people, someone who never judges, someone who is always kind and who will always try to see the good in all people, someone who forgives and moves on, someone who keeps an open mind and tries to broaden her horizon continuously, someone who will be able to say “no” politely and not feel guilty, because not everyone needs me to fix everything.

No grudges, no regrets just a lot of love!

It is a wonderful, marvelous journey to be on! I would never change a single thing, I have no regrets, yes, I have been knocked down, but I have learned valuable lessons that are now part of who I am, it is in adversity that we discover our true strengths and I would not be who I am today if I hadn’t been through all of this. I am, despite what I have been through or because of it, a better version of myself, a more reflecting, emphatic, awake and mature version of who I used to be. I have grown, I am still growing and it feels good. 

I have come to the conclusion that I will never get rid of my stress, it will always be there, warning me when I am “stretched too thinly”, when I have made too many plans, when I am trying to help too many people at one time, when I am not taking care of myself. Because if I don’t take care of myself, how am I supposed to be able to take care of my daughter and my dear old father?

And this is how I am fighting off my fibromyalgia, because in my case my stress and my fibromyalgia are intricately connected!

When I get stressed my muscles start to tense up and the result is aching pains and stiffness in every part of my body.

Sure, I changed my diet too. I stopped eating gluten/yeast, dairy products, eggs… I miss cheese!

I don’t drink much alcohol anyway, so one glass once in a blue moon is okay.

…coffee… yeah, that’s been my Achilles heel, but then I only drink 2 cups a day and since I have no aches anymore I feel rather lenient towards it.

I need to get at least 6 hours of sleep, preferably 7, but that’s not always possible when you have a daughter who has nightmares… If I get less than 6 hours, I feel stiff and I am more easily exhausted.

I need to exercise, but not too much because if I strain my muscles too much it’ll take me a couple of days to get back to normal again, i.e. break down the lactic acid.

My fibromyalgia is more about exhaustion; I can’t work or do as much as I used to do before I get dead tired. And that’s my biggest problem; I used to squeeze in so many things in one day, always complaining that the day didn’t have enough hours…. You see the connection?!

This is my biggest lesson, one I am still trying to get my head around: SLOW DOWN!! Breathe, everything will happen at the right time!

Let me finish this by saying that fibromyalgia manifests differently from person to person.

And therefore what I have done may not be the solutions for others.

But regardless if you have fibromyalgia or some other aliment, or none at all –  I would highly recommend you to re-evaluate your life, look at it thoroughly and think about what is of importance to you in your life?! Is it your house or the things that fill up your house? Is it your partner and/or your children? Is it your job?

What changes would you be willing to make in your life to make it not only your life, but perhaps even a better life?

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