Ever since I can remember, I've been very sensitive. Ok, family and friends, you can let out a little giggle. Those of you who know me best, know that even as a young child, I've had a bit of an intense personality. When I was 'set off', a tantrum would ensue. Looking back, I realize that being 'set off' was an early sign of being triggered with fibromyalgia. I'm sure I didn't have full blown fibromyalgia when I was a child, but I sure did have many indications. The most popular story, in my family, about my intensity is the one where I lost a boot in some very deep snow. My Dad and siblings were all outside with me, playing after a big snow storm. I remember being so light and little that I could walk on the top of the snow without sinking in. Until...one leg sunk to my hip. Although I was bundled to the point of only having eyes and a nose exposed, I could feel the coldness of the snow through my suit. I paused, with my leg stuck in the snow and decided to pull it out on my own. When I did, my boot was missing. It was lost in the abyss of white and cold. Two triggers at once; a cold bottom and a cold foot, as well as not quite knowing how to retrieve my boot. I began to scream. Not call for help or yell to get someone's attention. I screamed at the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my face. My sister recently shared that, as kids, when she heard that scream, she would run to me as quickly as she could. Not to make sure I was alright, but to stop the terrible sound that was coming from me. As she shared this piece that I was unaware of, I realized that as my older sister, this made perfect sense. As sensitive as I was, there were many screams of discomfort which made me feel helpless. I was comforted by her efforts no matter what the motivation was at the time.
My perception of stimulus spans all the senses. There's the physical, when it comes to touch, temperature, pressure, inside as well as outside my body. My tastes change often. My sight changes with flares and fibro fog. The sense of smell can trigger a flare. I carry ear plugs with me, always, because loud noises are uncomfortable. Then there are the emotional, mental and spiritual sensitivities as well. I find that fibromyalgia touches every aspect of my life.
My emotions can shift very quickly in a situation. At times it's difficult to pinpoint the reason for the shift. I'm now able to observe the emotion and try to locate it in my body to determine it's origin. I ask myself many questions; Is it connected to a current event and if so do I have control over the event. Is there something I can do about it to create a better feeling around it? Is it connected to a past event and if so, what is the forgiveness work to do around it and release it? Is it mine to do? Is it mine to be emotional about? This basically means that I pick up on emotions in a room of people, or one of my children could walk by and I feel a wave of stress. These are not mine to do, so I can let the emotion go and shift my energy to supporting them in what they can do about it. Taking the observer's point of view helps me sift through and channel my energy where it will be most useful.
Mentally, I can become overwhelmed with simple tasks. I tend to be very patterned in my life so that I can still function on autopilot when my mental faculties become confused, judgemental or overwhelmed. It's unnerving to be driving the the YMCA (a place I drive to 7-8 times a week) and get half way there and not remember how to get there. I'll remember where I'm going, just not how to get there. I've had to pull over, take a breath and remind myself to just take a moment. I have my back-up plans for extreme cases, like calling my husband or turning on the GPS, but luckily I haven't had to use them. By the way, our YMCA is three miles away from our house, a straight shot with no turns.
I've been exploring and observing more around how fibromyalgia effects my spiritual senses. The past year has proven to be a challenging one when it comes to attending my spiritual center, Unity on the River. I have been a member there for 10 years, I've completed the Disciple program and leadership training as well as been a volunteer for many aspects of the center. Recently, I have been able to attend only half services. Mostly during the meditation section, I begin to feel an overload of energy surging through my body, I'll begin to shake (uncomfortably) and my heart begins to race. During a singing bowl meditation, I got very sick to my stomach. During one of the services, I actively watched myself through the service. It was almost as if the amount of spiritual energy flowing through was too much for my body to handle. I felt that if I had some other frequency to channel the energy, I'd actually be feeling great joy and celebration. Here is my growing edge and I'm sure there will be more about the growth in this area in future blogs.
The physical sensitivities that come with fibromyalgia are probably what most people hear about. There's the shooting neurological pain that you hear about with the ads on TV for medications. What you may not know is that hugs can hurt. The physical, gentle touch of a loved one can send a shot of pain through the body. A brush by the couch, barely touching the edge can send that shooting pain through. It's no ordinary pain. The best way for me to describe it is when I brush by something, I pause (because there's a delay in the pain receptors) and take a breath thinking that this one was safe. Then it hits...shooting, fireworks through the thigh and just like a firework, it starts small and grows, spraying fire from the hip to the ankle. This can even happens on days when I feel I have minimal over all pain.
As I mentioned above, in the snow and boot story, I was bundled with only my eyes and nose exposed. Getting me ready for the cold outdoors was always a major task for my Mom, bless her heart. She would put my long sleeves on and I'd cry, shaking my arm and pointing. I wasn't able to express what the problem was because it was a sensation that was indescribable. It wasn't really pain, it was uncomfortable but more than that. It was a discomfort that if left alone would grow to become painful. After a great deal of patience, the source was found. It was a wrinkle in the shirt sleeve that was under the other shirt. The more layers there were, the more wrinkles there were and I couldn't have any. Can you imagine how challenging that would be in a New England Winter when everyone was getting ready for a great day of sledding?