I don’t like to talk about myself. Especially about my illnesses. I’ve started and erased this post several times now, because each time I do, whatever I write sounds so trite and false. But I feel that it is time for me to write this, for my own piece of mind, if nothing else. I don’t want pity or sympathy, just understanding, for myself as well as anyone else who is suffering. I can’t even pretend that I am a skilled writer, in fact I agonise over each word and phrase. And spelling! Don’t get me started. If it wasn’t for my best buddy Spell Check, you would likely think you were reading some lost version of Klingon or something. (Assuming that someone will even read this!) So, whoever you are dear, brave soul, please bare with me as I stumble along in my attempt to tell you my story.
Nearly twenty years ago I was diagnosed as Manic Depressive/Bipolar, and to put it quite simply, I went through hell. I had months of twice weekly therapy sessions, and tried any number of anti-depressants and mood stabilizers, searching for the right combination. Depression completely takes over your life, controlling everything that you think, feel and do. I couldn’t eat, (I lost 65lbs in seven weeks) sleep, or think clearly. During this period I raised my own four children, plus my two stepdaughters.(all under eight years old) It was an up-hill battle, one that many times I was sure I would lose. Without the love and devotion of my husband and family, I’m not sure that I would have made it through. In time I was better able to handle my illness, and was able to regain some control over my life. Depression still plays a large role in my life, and probably always will. I still fight the over-whelming sadness and desire to hide myself away from the world nearly every day, but thankfully my manic episodes are much less frequent.
Eventually I was able to get a full-time job, and I finally felt whole and productive. I felt that I was contributing to society and my family. I felt proud. I worked at the company for eight years, and worked my way up to manager. My job was extremely physical, with long hours, and I loved it. I still kept up my home and cared for my family. I was determined to do everything, and be perfect at it. The only thing I didn’t do was look after myself, and continually pushed myself to the limit and beyond. Eventually, the demands of my lifestyle caught up to me. In May of 2006 I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Suddenly my life was in an upheaval. Within Months I was unable to work, and ‘retired’ in August of 2006.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness, meaning that it is not life-threatening, but it is most defiantly life-changing. The list of symptoms and over-lapping conditions is extensive and debilitating. Fibro claims the entire body and affects all of it’s functions and abilities. It causes exhaustion so deep that breathing is a chore. Imagine being so physically exhausted that you need help getting to the bathroom, because without it you may not be able to get up and go. I know that sounds extreme, but it is the reality that I and many others with Fibro live with. Pain is another relentless part of my life. I have two kinds of pain meds, but neither takes the pain away, just dulls it somewhat. Depression has taken over again, and I don’t have the strength or willpower to fight it. I’m not going to list my multitude of symptoms and over-lapping ailments. Because frankly, there are too many, and it is just too depressing.
Fibro has robbed me of so many things. My health, my job, friends and family that don’t or won’t understand, my ability to do the most mundane chores and the desire and ability to do my favourite hobbies as much as I’d like. What used to take me a couple of hours to sew now can take days or weeks. But the most important thing that fibro has stolen from me is my self-worth and self-confidence.
If you know anyone with Fibro or Depression or any other hidden chronic illness, the absolute best thing you can do for them is to let them know you understand. It is far to easy to judge someone because of what you see on the outside. Just because we aren’t able to keep up with you doesn’t mean that we are lazy or don’t want too. It just means that at that we can’t. You need to look inside a person, and really see what they are suffering, before you judge can them.
I apologise for such a depressing post, but I just needed to get it out. In the next few days I hope to show some of my sewing projects. To leave on a happy note, here are a few pictures of my granddaughter’s first birthday!