So Long, Old Friend

This is dark to light. Trigger warning given. If this feels heavy and ugly to you, please know, as I write this I free myself. It matters not that these words be read, but that I write them and share them with others that might suffer similar circumstances.


I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia sometime during 2015. If you don’t know what that is, may I extend a heartfelt GOOD FOR YOU. Seriously. You do not want any of that syndrome, condition, or whatever they are calling it this year near your life. It is a condition where you experience pain all over your body, which either depresses you, or exacerbates existing depression, which causes more pain.

One star ride. Do not recommend.

Before giving it the name Fibromyalgia, they used to call it “phantom female pain” because 80% of those reporting similar symptoms are women, illustrating how seriously the medical community considers the problem. Stupid women and their problems, amirite?

If you can taste the sarcasm, it is intentional.

They are unsure about the origins of the pain, whether it is a result of overactive nerves, or something else. There is no blood test or panel, no genetic marker to blame. All I know is that I had never hurt like that physically in my lifetime.

Until I did.

My hips and shoulders started, at first. I would just start hurting and not stop for several hours, eventually days. Tender points developed in my glutes, hips, thighs, shoulders and back. I had been in a great deal of pain for a year and a half before doctors performed a “pressure point test” where they poke you in certain places and if you hurt accordingly, you have it. I know, it is funny that you think I am joking.

Looking back, I can see that every level of my being was in a state of dis-ease; body, mind, spirit. My father had died in 2011, a scant six months into a stint at sobriety, long overdue. I went back out and tried some old ways before realizing there were not enough drugs or liquor to numb the terrifying pain I felt in every waking moment with the knowledge that my father was GONE.

I did not come to that realization without an immense amount of anguish. Upon seeing a photo of him, I had begun to scream. I used towels for tissues. If I had been on a controlled descent prior, I had entered a full blown tail spin in the months after he died.

On February 28, 2012, I drank until I could barely see. I took a large amount of Ambien (sleeping pill). I took an even larger amount of Xanax. I got into the shower and apologized to God and whoever else could hear me, but I could no longer go on. I remember cutting into my flesh at my wrist and then I don’t remember anything until waking up on my couch, very much alive.

If you get into the mindset of suicide and then wake up, you feel a sense of failing IN the midst of failure. I couldn’t even get offing myself right. I guess I did not die because it was not my time. I have no other explanation. My sister came to my house because she heard God and my father telling her to come get me. Tell me there aren‘t angels working among us.

Emergent Mental Health Care in MD is much better than other places. They were worthless for TRULY HELPING ME, although I doubt anyone could have. So, they stitched me, stabilized me, I sobered up, and got back out in the game of life. Everyone plays battered, beaten and broken. Suck it the fuck up.

So, I tried.

They told me to take the meds. I took the meds. Good girl. They told me to go to the meetings. I went to the meetings. Good girl. I made plans to live with my Mom, who was grieving, as well. Good girl.

I did well, for a bit, after moving south. I was sober from alcohol and had a job, a few friends and was happy reuninting with my mother after years of geographic distance. The weather was perfect, the landscape serene. I have always chosen to be alone with regard to relationships for large swaths of time, and FFS, I was a mess, so it was probably better that I wasn’t interested in romantic entanglement.

When the episodes began, I blamed it on using pain meds for so long and convinced myself it would pass. It did not. Monthly episodes turned into weekly, turned into daily. The only thing that helped was staying ABSOLUTELY STILL. Early on, a friend of my mother’s came to visit while I was in pain. She said, “that is Fibromyalgia. I know, because I have it.” She warned me not to focus on staying still. I did not heed that advice for many years.

I will glaze over the endless parade of useless doctors (drug dealers with lab coats), myriad medications leading to an eventual decline back into pills to escape the pain, one last time. I could not sleep, but my central nervous system was trashed, is that at all surprising?

This ugliness is addiction and grief, with some codependency added in for flavor. And if you are reading the moral of this story as Don’t do drugs, you are really missing the point. The drinking and drugs were a SYMPTOM of a deeper issue. As was the physical pain. Hindsight has shown me that my physical pain was directly related to the emotional and spiritual pain that I was sitting in WITHOUT MOVING. I have come to understand that my Pain has a Purpose. It is a communication device used by my body and/or mind. It was screaming at me, yet, I heard nary a whisper.

The problem wasnt that I didn’t feel the pain. I felt it too much. And I had NO CLUE what to do about it. I was not using the pain to grow. I was just suffering. Ignoring the hard shit just to get on with the day, just get it over with, into the next. No purpose, no plan, no party.

We tried all kinds of things to help. I saw a grief counselor, started getting acupuncture and chiropractic care, but nothing worked. My mom invested in vitamins and assorted health concoctions that surely helped my body, but this is further evidence that the pain wasn‘t in my body, exclusively. My spirit was sick from years of neglect and abuse at my own hands.

I got into bed one day after a muscle relaxer induced fall and said to myself, “I think I will stay here until I feel better”. And then I didn’t get out for quite a long time. It was not constant, like My 600 lb life or some shit, but closer than I ever wanna get again.

My spirit hibernated all of this time. I buried desire for anything “better” for myself. I deserved this pain (not true), I was a failure at everything (false belief), I wasn’t capable of “more” (limited belief). Where did I put all this pain? I buried this into a new persona, who I lovingly refer to as Fibromyalgia Amy.

Creating her was not INTENTIONAL in the sense that I was unconscious of it at the time. But, I became my dis-ease, whether intentional or not. If you were witness to the change in body language, it spoke volumes. My eyes always looked down, never in your eyes. Shame does that. Self-hatred does that. Fear does that.

I developed a stoop and a limp. After I gained 100 lbs in a little over a year, it kind of became a whole wobble/waddle thing. I used a handicapped placard and the little scooter in Wal-Mart. There is another level of embarrassment when you tip over a popcorn display at Christmas with your scooter. Truly. You know you have reached a new plateau of healing when you have the ability to laugh at yourself for something that utterly humiliating.

Please know, I am laughing with her now. I did NOT do that when I got sober, for good, finally, in 2016. I can today. That is growth. It has been the last two years that has really inspired me to go after even more. I am ready for a new layer of healing, I honor Fibro Amy and set myself free. She deserves every bit of gratitude I possess. If I never had to meet myself as that “other“ creature, I would have never had the thought, “does it HAVE to be like this?” (The answer is not NO, it is FUCK NO).

My life is the evidence. I am not pain-free, but I am going to be. I am about 75-80% better than I was in 2015/2016. I have lost over 55 lbs. My mental clarity improves daily and I honor and process my emotions and respond to my needs as they arise. I am not perfect, nor do I seek to be. I just want to be a better version of me, in all ways.

Thank you, Fibromyalgia Amy. Thank you for protecting me from other people while I recognized I needed healing. I scared people. I know I did. Thank you for showing me how invisible obese people are in our society, so that I never do that to others. Thank you for forcing me to slow down and pay attention to my body. I hear it now. Thank you for showing me the way to healing and giving me a rock bottom starting point from which to launch.

Your pain has purpose, now, Friend. Be well.

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