Initially misdiagnosed as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia later became a recognized disorder that was identified by having a minimum of 16 out of 18 signature points in the body categorized as being acutely painful. Over time, depression was said to be an aspect of the disorder as well.
Currently, however, it appears that any and every symptom that needs a home is placed in the Fibromyalgia bucket. In reading postings from a web page, I saw this: “I have recently found out that my diabetes, thyroid, dry skin etc., weight gain, IBS symptoms, depression and anxiety, and sleep disorders could also be attributed to my fibro.” Normally, I would shake my head in a mix of frustration and sadness for her, yet it followed a related conversation from a week before.
I was speaking with an Emergency Room physician who told me that she and her fellow physicians have no clue what Fibromyalgia actually is and therefore have absolutely no idea how to treat it. She said that sufferers frequently come into the emergency room complaining of Fibromyalgia problems yet each patient may have a dramatically different, and large, grouping of symptoms, unlike any others. Most disorders have clearly defined symptoms.
She commented that she and other emergency room physicians have come to believe that doctors simply dump anything they can’t identify a cause for into the Fibromyalgia label leaving sufferers looking for one magic pill to eliminate the muscle/joint pain, nausea, bloating, depression, skin conditions, etc.
Not only does this make it far too complicated for a Fibromyalgia patient, but we also have significant experience to know that if you tell someone this condition has all these symptoms, all those symptoms will show up over time. Where and how should they even begin to deal with this condition? Could it be that many of these symptoms have nothing at all to do with Fibromyalgia?
She questioned the fact that most medical research focuses on male patients, leaving a primarily, although not solely, female condition without any real answers that can be universally taught. If this were a primarily male condition would the prognosis and diagnosis seem so haphazard?
As one who researched Fibromyalgia in the days when it was just becoming recognized as a separate entity with its own simple tool for diagnosis, and a clearly defined path of development, I think it would be highly important and impactful to assess a condition for what we know it is. The initial assessment of Fibromyalgia consisted of pressing points along the Bladder Meridian, which runs through the head, down either side of the spine, out to the hips and then down the legs like old nylon seams. It was a clear and simple process to diagnose.
My research has shown me that depression is much more a part of the diagnosis than it is of the disorder itself. Telling someone their pain will only worsen and limit their ability to function would depress anyone. What if they were told they will need to deal with past traumas? Their lifestyle choices? Their tendency to get over-involved in things that have nothing to do with them? What if they were taught to develop a life they want and were given the permission to do so?
In my research, quantitative and qualitative, in looking at the Psycho/Spiritual Correlates of Fibromyalgia, we saw clearly the absolute similarity in personality style for all those who presented with Fibromyalgia. Their consistent tendency to over-protect, to get over-invested in the lives of others so they could “help”, “protect” or “guide” was astounding. It was after decades of such behavior that the stressors showed through the energy blocks or stagnation along the bladder meridian. (A meridian governing and impacted by the fear of an inability to protect another.)
In looking at point-of-onset, consistently it was when they felt they could no longer protect a loved one. Perhaps he or she was starting elementary school, moving across the country for college, getting married and moving away…. Regardless, their need to protect was a governing factor in their lives. As a psychotherapist for over 25 years, I can tell you that when we are obsessed with protecting another it is because we were never protected ourselves and therefore suffered horribly through a number of abusive situations. Protecting others from the same or a similar fate becomes an obsession and the resultant stress impacts the body profoundly.
Is the pain real? Of course. Is the excessive fear or stress real? Most definitely. When we are diagnosed with a painful disorder that now has every odd symptom under the sun dumped into it, when they show up there is a feeling of being buried under the extensive symptoms which therefore also must be life-long and increasingly painful since it is all Fibromyalgia.
What if we separated out the bladder meridian, and Fibromyalgia, and then recognized that many additional symptoms show up when someone is extremely stressed. The increased stress may have caused all these additional symptoms. Not fibromyalgia itself.
In my research, in calling participants to redefine love and to acknowledge that protection doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with love changes occurred. Teaching them to simply love someone, allowing them permission to fail, make mistakes, fall on their face, literally and figuratively, was a core part of the research. So many simply needed permission.
Taking the “task” of loving away, freed our participants to begin to live a life they wanted, that focused on them and their dreams. As I read so many postings on Facebook within Fibromyalgia support groups, not coincidently, person after person speaks of a week with minimal pain while they were away on vacation with one other adult to simply relax and read in the warm weather.
That is not a coincidence. It is to be expected. A break from their norm; a break from daily stressors, a break to simply be…. All this creates the perfect way of life to eliminate, to cure Fibromyalgia. Not the vacation, but the momentary way of looking at their own life, their own needs and wants with no one to care for or worry about. They have a week without burden or fear.
Coming home calls them back to their mindset of responsibility, pain, limitation, and burden. It calls them back to their own inner traumas and to the life they left behind for a week.
Only 2 participants in our research project did not farewell. Each of them refused to spend one hour a week focusing on themselves and being nurtured. They insisted 45 minutes was enough since they needed to get home to get their husband's dinner on the table. They couldn’t deal with his anger or his rejection. They needed to protect him and themselves from the anger and a ruined evening. The price was too high to keep the peace. If we are to support those with this disorder, if we are to cure Fibromyalgia, we must have a clear understanding of what it is and what it isn’t. We need also to recognize this is not an incurable disorder, simply, as always, a multi-dimensional one.