In 1995 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I had been experiencing flu-like symptoms for over a decade but trips to the doctor turned up nothing. By the time I was diagnosed, I had already been in the hospital eight years earlier for unexplained chronic fatigue, later diagnosed as Epstein-Barr syndrome. I had just had a baby and was working in the Post Office where I had to get up at 1:30 AM every morning to get to work and could not be 1 second late. I collapsed and slept for 3 days.
My husband was no help with the baby. I would go to sleep early, or try to but when she cried or fussed, he handed her to me, or woke me up. I needed this job. My husband’s employment with the Navy was over an hour away and the medical insurance only covered near the base in New London, Ct. If we were to move closer to the base, I would not have my support system of family, friends and church nearby. I was afraid to be without my support group.
Prior to my husband joining the Navy in 1984, he had another pastime. Giving me bruises. I did not leave him because I knew that deep down, he was a really good guy and wasn’t loved properly. He was working on getting his life together and I already had a child with him and wanted my son to grow up knowing his father.
Besides. Who else would want a 23 year old with a child?
That is the backstory. Fast forward to 1995 and I was sleeping for 18 hours per day, had unexplained muscle pain, chronic spasms and depression. I would lie pinned to my bed and had to pick up my right arm with my left, grab it and roll onto the floor, crawl to the bathtub to run my hands under cold water for relief and pull myself up in front of the bathroom mirror to start my day. This took hours.
Unrelated to all this, which turned out actually, related, I was still with my husband. I had become a Christian in 1985 and from everything I read and was told, I needed to stick it out with him unless he was unfaithful. I changed, but he didn’t. He still had a past time of terrorizing me, gaslighting me and keeping back some of the household money to do whatever it was he was doing.
I saw a counselor for depression and kept insisting the pain in my body came before depression. If only I could get rid of it, then the depression would be gone. I was told it was the opposite way around and a doctor prescribed Prozac. I became more depressed because I felt like nobody was really listening.
Invalidated by the counselor because he didn’t believe in the diagnosis of fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue as a primary issue. Invalidated by the doctors because they could not find any thing via medical testing. Invalidated by members of church because it must have been some attitude I had that let opened a door to a spirit. Invalidated by family because “there she goes again, always overreacting”.
Eventually, I learned to accept that I was overreacting and should just take ibuprofen for the pain on a regular basis. Before coming to know the Lord, I handled any emotional or physical pain by having a few drinks to calm my nerves, but it seemed that since I stopped drinking, the pain became greater.
Or was it all now finally becoming visible?
I got the courage to leave my abusive marriage in 1998 and I later remarried. In 2004 I joined an online group for fibromyalgia sufferers. At the time, it still was not accepted by the medical community and there was no medication for it. In order for there to be medication, there has to be a disease. Fibromyalgia was just a collection of symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, depression and muscle pain. Many members of my online group had lobbied Washington DC to change the labeling of disorder to disease in order to get a prescription.
We did it! We won! It became a disease and now there was medication.
I started my own group for fibromyalgia in 2004 on MSN until MSN groups no longer existed. In 2007, my fibromyalgia group closed down. But I felt like it was good timing because many were coming to understand fibromyalgia and doctors were prescribing the medication needed.
There was a problem however. Those who took the medication were disappointed. It lasted only 2 months.
I began developing other symptoms by this time. Frequent head colds with mucous, chronic flu like symptoms, and burning pain in my face and legs. I had seen several neurologists and had MRI’s and nothing was found. It all got put in the medical junk drawer of fibromyalgia.
I decided to get off the merry-go-round. What IS fibromyalgia? Is it really a diagnosis? Breaking the word down, it means “Fibrous (Fibro) Muscle Tissue (My) Pain (Algia)”. Where does it come from? Why is it now everyone seems to be getting it when only a decade earlier it was rare and invalidated by the medical community? So many questions.
I dabbled in the herbal field for a few decades so I had learned a little, but I could not help anyone else. Just experiment. In 2009 I was praying and I “saw” the Lord extend his hand and say “Come” and I somehow knew exactly what that meant because of the way He was responding to previous prayers and words He had given me. I didn’t like the fact that Christians avoided most health food stores because of the new agey and occultic presence in many or most. He said “Come. Creation belongs to me. Take it back”. I started a journey in November 2009 that changed it all.
I wrote all of the above because the backstory here is important to the “diagnosis” of fibromyalgia.
So, let’s look at this Fibrous Muscle Tissue Pain. Why is this a diagnosis? Why did the medicine not work for longer than 2 months? Why was anti-depressants once a prescription for this? Specifically SSRI’s or Selective-Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors? What role does Seratonin play in pain? Why is it released? Why is it suppressed?
Chronic Fatigue was my first noticeable physical symptom. I recall falling asleep in the car, whether as a passenger (or driver at times), in the mid 70‘s.
Depression was my first noticeable injury to my soul. That arrived at 11 years old when my father left the family just one year prior. There were no goodbyes. Just abandonment.
Abandonment was the act that assaulted my spirit. I felt unloved, unwanted, and unloveable. Unresolved spiritual issues opened the door to unresolved emotional issues which led to unresolved physical issues. The fact that I was crying out for someone to fix this pain in the spirit and soul to no avail led me to fix it myself.
A fifth of vodka here, a Percocet there, and a joint almost always, helped to medicate.
The Lord took me on a journey to see where this began. And I will tell you, the reader right now, that I know this as a fact, because when we “walked back to the beginning” and I submitted it all to Him, I no longer walk in fibromyalgia today (unless I get sloppy, but I have learned to use inflammation as a sort of electric fence – I stepped out of the boundaries He set up for me.)
For those who just want quick facts on the root of fibromyalgia, I’ll give it to you right now. For those who need to understand it in a greater way, I am continuing to add to this blog.
**The door is opened through chronic abuse and neglect.
**When the chronic abuse or neglect becomes reality, we accept lies. Lies about love. Lies about who we are. **Lies about our purpose. It involves relationships to others and the Godhead.
**When we accept the lies, we open the door for a battle within ourselves. Our immune system, which is the front lines of battle in the body, throw out all the arsenal it has to protect itself by releasing hormones that go after enemies, both foreign and domestic. On the one hand, we are told we are loved and accepted. On the other hand, we don’t feel it and what we do feel is not good. At this point, there is heightened inflammation, in the body and in the soul realm. Others just see overreaction. (Hence invalidation)
**When we have this war inside our bodies, it affects every system in the body. Digestive, Metabolic, Circulatory, Muscular. At this stage, we often receive a diagnosis of fibromyalgia, along with IBS and other digestive disorders, Migraines, Chronic Fatigue etc as if they are all separate from each other when they are all related.
**By the time we have a “diagnosis” of fibromyalgia, we have these other conditions which we take separate medications for. Medications have their place, however, they are extreme measures and should only be prescribed for something that can be relieved by taking the medication and for a short time. As my neuro medical student and one time friend said to me once “Medications are an atomic bomb on the body. Yes you got the target, but you also destroyed innocent civilians along the way.”
**By the time we have a “diagnosis” for all these conditions which are actually related, the root is no longer clear. We are on a cycle of pain and medications; high blood sugar and medications; high blood pressure and medications; high trigylcerides and medications; thyroid disease and medications.
**The way out of fibromyalgia, which is not a real diagnosis, begins with closing the door to the lies we have accepted about who we are and the love of our Father. It has to begin with a daily reminder of love. We must tell ourselves and our sisters and brothers that they are loved.
**For those of us on the other side of fibromyalgia, we need to model that love without going over our own electric fence boundaries.
**We need to forgive those who have neglected and abused us. If it goes back to childhood with parental abuse, meditate on Psalm 27: 9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. 10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. 11 Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. 12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, spouting malicious accusations. 13 I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.
**Read these words and then agree with His word aloud. Know that His thoughts are not your thoughts but you can agree with them even if it isn’t the present reality.
**Soaking music and meditation are very helpful.
The Stress Response
We have a built in system that alerts us of oncoming threat. In the event of imminent danger, such as a lion chasing you or dog growling or someone entering your home unlawfully, the brain has already done triage to determine whether it should send out hormone signals to the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) or the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest response).
The area of the brain that processes emotion and interprets images and sound is called the amygdala. It then sends a message to the Hypothalamus, or the Command Center of the brain. If it is determined that all is well and that the threat is no longer (or never really was), it will alert the parasympathetic nervous system, providing the “Rest and Digest” response. The body is at peace, hormones are normal, heart rate and blood pressure is normal, and sleep is satisfying. If the brain determines that the body needs to mobilize the troops, so to speak, the sympathetic nervous system is alerted, providing the fight or flight response.
Per Very Well Mind, physical signs that can indicate the fight-or-flight response has kicked in include:
- Dilated pupils: In times of danger, the body prepares itself to be aware of its surroundings; dilation of the pupils allows more light into the eyes and results in a better vision of the surroundings.
- Pale or flushed skin: Blood flow to the surface areas of the body is reduced while flow to the muscles, brain, legs, and arms is increased. Paleness or alternating between a pale and flushed face as blood rushes to the head and brain is common. The body’s blood clotting ability also increases to prevent excess blood loss in the event of injury.
- Rapid heart rate and breathing: Heartbeat and respiration rate increase to provide the body with the energy and oxygen needed to fuel a rapid response to danger.
- Trembling:The muscles tense and become primed for action, which can cause trembling or shaking.
For greater detail on how this works check out Harvard Health Publishing here.
The fight-or- flight response is necessary to equip the body with tools for an actual threat, but we were never meant to go through a daily crisis event. When we deal with chronic stress events that go unresolved, our bodies becomed trained . “This is the way it is.”
Holy Spirit speaks to our spirit. Our spirit speaks to our soul the things it has learned from His Spirit. Our soul is the deciding factor for our lives. “I have been told I am loved. Am I loved? Is this real?”
Our brains process that we are in a threatening situation. It alerts the body to handle the crisis accordingly. Once the actual crisis is over, we can exhale and then allow our souls to process what happened.
For the person who has not meditated on the Word, or does not know the Holy Spirit, this processing takes awhile. Sometimes the event is buried. Sometimes it takes talking to someone else. This may mean that the chronic stressful situations keep taking place, but the processing of the what and the why’s take longer. The trauma remains in the body and soul, while we process or we bury it.
That does not change what the scripture says about spirit, soul, and body. In fact, it supports it.
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
The Word of God, being living and powerful and alive in us who have His Spirit, can do the processing for us. It divides what is soul and what is spirit. It divides what is joint and what is marrow. It divides what is thought and what is intent; without which, the person who does not have the Word living on the inside keeps processing and burying, processing and burying, until it arrives at the only thing that is real according to what is seen and felt.
But so many Christians have fibromyalgia too! Does this mean that the Word is not living and active? No!
But remember, fibromyalgia is not a real diagnosis. Fibromyalgia is FIBROUS MUSCLE TISSUE PAIN. This is a result of injury that is unresolved. Maybe the crisis no longer occurs, but the effect of the crisis is still unresolved.
Before I get too far, I want to offer some relief tips for fibrous muscle tissue pain. More on root causes later.
Stretch, Detox and Nourish
Fibrous muscle tissue pain often gets stiff with inactivity. I have experienced, and all those I have observed and counseled say the same. The muscles tend to “shrink” and become stiff.
Stretching is more important than rigorous exercise. When you wake up in the morning, gently stretch those calf muscles and neck muscles and whichever muscles are affected. Walking is higher priority than running.
There are seven critical pathways of elimination; liver, lungs, kidneys, sweat, colon, blood, and lymph.
The liver is responsible for many functions. When the liver is not functioning properly, the body becomes sluggish. The liver must be allowed to process all that comes into the body, whether food, or supplement or medication, without getting bogged down. This is why overeating causes weight gain. The liver has to process it before the next supply of food comes in. Too many supplements at one time can cause the liver to become sluggish. Too many medications. Moderation is very important for liver health. Herbal supplements like dandelion root and milk thistle help to support liver health. Tea is better.
Deep breathing is critical to opening up lung capacity. Stale gasses do not get released with shallow breathing and is the underlying cause of anxiety as well as metabolic acidosis which prohibits release of toxins.
Hydration is very important for kidney health, however, drinking too much water at one time, without minerals, can lead to electrolyte loss. Drink 5-8 glasses of water per day, not at one time. Purified water is best. I’m not a fan of distilled water because of the electrolyte loss. More on that later.
Blood pressure is regulated by kidneys, not heart. So a higher than normal blood pressure often means that the kidneys are working harder to pump fluids out.
Sweat is not a dirty word. Antiperspirants are not healthy because they block the toxins in the body from being removed via the sweat glands. Deodorants are better and maybe some baking soda to absorb moisture, but the sweat glands need to be cleared to release those toxins.
Bowel movements should be firm, well formed and should glide easily out of the body.
To be continued……