This is a question I’ve never really thought about before, but people keep asking me so I thought deeply about what my answer would be.
I think fibromyalgia does consistently affect the same nerves, and I think this answer is actually pretty straight-forward because I believe fibromyalgia affects all the nerves of the body.
Fibromyalgia is totally cumulative and I don’t believe it will ‘attack’ one part of the body and then move on to another part of the body.
I don’t think it’s that way at all.
I think that the entire body gets glued-together, crammed full of stress chemicals, scarred, and full of trigger points all at the same time, chemically. Some areas feel the pain first because they are used more or stretched less so they get glued-together, etc. first mechanically.
So, even though your whole body is in the same state generally, some areas wear out quicker and feel more pain because these are areas that are just worn out and fatigued by all the work you are doing.
Areas like your neck, your upper back, your chest, your wrists, your hips, and your feet are prime areas to feel the most pain in for this reason, in my opinion.
For me, the restorative stretches that I outline in my book healed all these major areas at the same time and then I would spot-treat with self-trigger point massage.
I would love to hear from someone asking this question if this answers it or if there is more they would like to know. Leave me a comment below.
Filed under: Listening to your Body, Reversing Fibromyalgia
We’ve already talked about the state of problem-solver, and people-pleaser.
Another state I believe causes fibro is that of being divorced from the body.
For me, I believe some painful and violating episodes when I was younger caused me to just tune my body out. To just get really good at dampening the signals from my body.
The body has a lot to tell us, but if we habitually ignore it due to chronic pain or any other reason, then it starts to scream.
The body uses the language of symptoms and sensations to articulate what it knows. How else can it communicate?
Stephanie Mines, Ph.D. From We are All in Shock
Another state that creates fibro is ignoring the body.
I remember about 10 years ago. I was working as a dispatcher in the local police department. I would come home from 8 hours of work with a headache. I would take 2 motrin and a half hour nap and then get up and work on my home computer, and I would do this every day.
Wow! Is it any wonder that I got sicker and sicker? My body was telling me, with that headache: “stop working! Take some time off! Stretch our neck muscles! Go outside! Find something relaxing and fun to do! Process the work day! Don’t wait till the weekend!”
Instead, I dampened the pain with motrin, waited long enough for it to kick in, and then got right back on the computer.
Head aches, back aches, finger aches, feeling tired, they are all our body trying to communicate with us: “If you keep going something seriously wrong is going to happen.” “I need rest and repair time and attention.”
Today, I try to pay a lot of attention all day long to what my body is telling me. If I have a pain or an ache I address it. I no longer take pain medication ever. I always make sure to catch and treat my overuse symptoms before they get out of hand.
I’ve felt the pain of fibromyalgia and that’s a place I won’t go to again.
One more state I believe causes Fibromyalgia is the state of feeling responsible for things we can’t possibly have control over. Like the behavior of our children or spouses, or like the way other people see us, or being late to an appointment because of traffic. All we can truly be responsible for is ourselves and our own behavior and thoughts.
And one more – the super-big kicker for me: the state of giving others power over our happiness. Believing that if my husband treats me in a way I consider to be poorly I should be upset about it.
Actually, I don’t know if this was my exact belief. I think my exact belief could be more accurately stated as: other people, especially my husband, should know exactly how to treat me to make me feel the best, and they should always be willing to treat me in exactly this way regardless of what is going on with them.
Lol. What a trap. This trap is one I am still unraveling for myself, but every time I see a little victory I reap the rewards of peace and well-being for myself, no matter how people around me feel.
Is this selfish? Yes. I believe we have to be selfish if we are to regain our health – and I believe that your selfishness will be the best thing you can give your family and friends. When you can find peace and happiness regardless of how they feel, you can lead them to peace and happiness – when before they had no hope, no path, no guiding light at all.
States of resentment about anything and states of hiding something from someone close to you also can contribute to the starting of body states that lead to fibromyalgia I believe. These both require and consume huge energetic resources.
Filed under: Candida, Food and Fibro, Reversing Fibromyalgia
In year three of my recovery from Fibromyalgia, I read the book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Fibromyalgia. In it was extensive information about why many (possibly the majority) of people with fibromyalgia have carbohydrate intolerance, or metabolic issues when they consume carbohydrates.
In these people, eating a lot or any carbohydrates can cause some of the following symptoms:
- Fatigue & Exhaustion
- Faintness, dizziness, cold sweats, shakiness, weak spells
- Drowsiness, especially after meals or in the mid-afternoon
- Digestive disturbances (hmmm, candida, irritable bowel)
- Needless worrying
- Mental confusion
- Rapid pulse, especially after eating certain foods
- Muscle Pains
- Antisocial behavior
- Overly emotional, crying spells
- Leg Cramps
- Shortness of breath, sighing and excess yawning
- Cravings for starch and sugar rich foods
- being overweight
So, what’s crazy about this list to me is how many of the symptoms mimic fibromyalgia symptoms. Imagine, if you had a carbohydrate issue and fibromyalgia, and you took care of the carbohydrate issue by restricting the amount of carbs you ate in some way, and then half your symptoms went away! Talk about feeling better quickly!
So, what happened to me was I realized that I had carbohydrate issues – in the book What Your Doctor May Not Tell You about Fibromyalgia they offer a small test that you can just answer yes or no to the questions to get a good indication of whether you may have carb intolerance or not. They also talk about it here on their hypoglycemia page.
Basically, the book says that the standard blood test that most doctors consider definitive in determining hypoglycemia actually is not. In the book they say that listening to a patients history is more effective in determining hypoglycemia, or carbohydrate intolerance.
I definitely had major carbohydrate issues, but when I took the standard blood test (gtt) my results were negative, so I am on board with the opinion that the blood test is not worth anything.
So, I tried the strict carbohydrate diet as described in the book, and I did feel better. I also lost weight. I was not able to maintain it over the holidays though. And I did continue to get better even though I wasn’t on a low carbohydrate diet anymore. Of course, by this time I was exercising quite a bit, so that makes blood sugar issues less anyway.
Two years later, I tried the low-carb diet again, but this time I did the moderate one – and although I felt worse for the first few days, I felt better after that. And what was interesting was that my body was now sensitive enough that I could feel what carbohydrates did to me as they were doing it. I could discern very subtle responses in my body, even the day after.
Through my own experience, I have determined that limiting carbohydrates (especially anything eaten as comfort food or to self-soothe) can be very valuable in trying to feel better from fibromyalgia, if you have a carbohydrate issue. You can read the book (get it from the library or here or talk to your doctor if you suspect you may have this issue.
A few of my other favorite books on low carb diets are here: Low Carbohydrate books
Filed under: Listening to your Body, Reversing Fibromyalgia, Trigger Points
So, about three thursdays ago, I came home with the worst fibromyalgia pain ever. It was so bad it made me nauseous and made me fear kidney stones or gall stones or ectopic pregnancy or appendicitis. Finally, I figured out what it was and how to fix it, which is what I want to share here.
I don’t actually have fibromyalgia anymore, but I believe this pain was caused by a mass of bunched, fibrous tissue and fascia that was probably one of my original causes of fibromyalgia. So I call this pain fibromyalgia pain.
My main message with this story is that because the pain was referred, it was extremely hard for me to know it was just muscle pain. And, since the pain was so intense and extreme as to make me nauseous and unable to function, I considered going to urgent care at one point. And if I would have gone to an urgent care clinic, they either would have sent me home and told me “there’s nothing wrong with you” or ‘found’ something wrong with me or sent me to the hospital or a specialist.
As it was, I treated myself with some heat and some self trigger-point massage. Imagine, if this incident would have ended with drugs or exploratory surgery or a new diagnosis. This is one reason why I say my fibromyalgia was a gift. Because of my fibromyalgia and all the muscle issues I endured, I worked for many years to discover what was causing my pain, and become intimate with the structure of my own body and what hurts it and what heals it.
Because I have this knowledge, I always ‘know’ what is going on with my body and what my best plan is to fix it. Talk about priceless knowlege.
****** I am NOT saying that you shouldn’t go to the hospital or doctor if you have pain. You should. I am saying that my knowledge of my body, has progressed (as a direct result of my years of work with it trying to heal from fibro) to the point that I was comfortable with MY decision not to go to the doctor at that point in time. *******
So, what exactly happened was this:
I just moved from Hawaii to Idaho 6 weeks ago. My son and I came with only the suitcases we could carry to find a house to live in so my husband could send the dogs and the car and the boxes. It’s quite a process to move over an ocean. I had been doing yoga every day and since we moved, I had done it maybe 3 times in 6 weeks. I was feeling good still, and for the most part emotionally well, but a major move and life disruption is just that – so even if I wasn’t stressed out, I wasn’t in my ‘healthy groove’ either. I’ve been eating more carbs than usual, stretching WAY less than usual, sleeping crazy schedules, not getting massages or doing self-massage, and just basically changing everything.
So, that morning, my 6 year old son and I biked three miles to go to my friend’s house. I did not stretch when we got there. That evening, my friend and I biked another mile or two. I didn’t stretch after that either. And then I started feeling some pain.
The pain was in the upper left quadrant of my abdomen. So, if I put my left hand just under my left ribs, it was all in that area. It was bad, and it was getting worse. I couldn’t sit still. I started to hunch when I walked. I started feeling like I was going to throw up. This was a kind of pain I haven’t felt since I was in labor with my son. Over the course of about 4 hours the pain got so bad I considered going to the emergency room or urgent care center.
I used to work as a paramedic, so I checked a few things on myself that would tip me off to appendicitis or internal bleeding or anything else that could kill me quickly. I was fairly certain it wasn’t ectopic pregnancy for a pretty iron-clad reason. I kept thinking maybe it was a gall stone or a kidney stone. It was bad enough that I wrote down all the emergency numbers for the oldest child who was with me, just in case.
However, even while all these doomsday thoughts were running through my head, I just knew this was muscular pain. The reason, however, that I kept having the other thoughts was that I was doing everything I knew in the area to treat muscular pain, and it wasn’t getting any better. Based on my experience, it should have been getting better.
At 10 pm, I got all the kids to bed and I laid down myself. I thought maybe I could use my thought dismissing and breathing to deal with the pain. nope.
Now, this pain was just below my ribs on my left side. I had been pushing and rubbing and prodding and feeling that area for hours. Nothing. Then, laying there, panting, I had the thought ‘I wonder if it’s my groin’. I put some pressure on the monster mass of knotted tissue I have had for as long as I can remember in that area, and BOOM, instant relief.
The relief was not full relief, but I immediately knew I had found the spot causing the pain. The pain moved from my upper left quadrant to my lower left quadrant, and the intensity went down from a 9 to a 5 or 6 right away. whooo. sweet, sweet relief.
So let me talk about this mass for a little bit. I discovered this mass about 4 years ago. My left side has always been a bit tighter and more tweaked than my right side – and when I say always I mean my whole life. I had a massage therapist who would massage my stomach, and that’s when I first started noticing this whole area on my left side of my stomach was knotted and frequently spasming and tight and painful. Almost by accident I discovered that my inner thigh, where it meets my groin was ALWAYS so tight and spasmed that I couldn’t touch it in any way. I took to having my husband just lean on it with the heel of his hand with a lot of pressure because that was the only kind of ‘treatment’ I could stand.
The mass starts in my groin on the left side and the muscle that it is connected to must travel up and connect again at the front of my left hip bone, because I can kind of follow it up there and find the other end of it where there are more trigger points and knotted masses of painful tissue. If you look at the picture above and find the muscle noted as iliopsoas, I think that’s the culprit here. I hear many people call it the psoas muscle (pronounced like so-as).
After about 6 months of applying pressure when I could stand it, the area loosened up enough that I could start self-trigger point massage on it with a tennis ball. For months, whenever I would put the least bit of pressure on it, I would feel like it was on fire. It was an incredibly strange and painful sensation. It was like the tennis ball was on fire and I was applying it directly to my skin. I’ve never felt anything like it before or since.
I believe that this sensation was caused by a mass of nerves and tissue that was so knotted and damaged that it pulled an bunched my fascia in extreme ways and caused much of my pain and probably was a fibromyalgia precursor. I don’t know what originally caused it, but one of my theories has to do with spankings with a board I received as a child.
Yes, I believe that fibromyalgia started in my body when I was a very young child, and when I was 30 and I got symptoms, it was because my body was finally so full of these twisted masses of tissues that it could no longer function normally. This one in my groin area was probably my first one that ever developed, and as such it is the last one I am getting rid of too. It’s still there, but I don’t have any fibromyalgia anymore. Eventually it will be gone too.
Ok, back to what I did that night about the pain. It was about 11:00 at night. I was laying down. I didn’t really have the strength or desire to get up and massage the area with a tennis ball so I got my hand-held infrared heat applicator and put it on the area. Oh yes, more relief, my pain got down into the 3 to 4 area. phew.
For a couple of hours I alternated heat application with pressure and by 2:30 I was down to pain of about 2. Although it was 2:30 in the morning, the sweet relief of almost no pain was so wonderful I was completely blissed out. I got up and ate something so I could take two motrin and then I went to bed. I was able to sleep. wonderful.
The next morning, I had a tiny bit of pain when I moved certain ways. I started a program of 2 to three times a day, rubbing the area with a tennis ball against the wall. I also put thermacare-like heat pads on the area. I started doing supported child’s pose and unsupported child’s pose at least twice a day and anytime after I biked. Basically, I focused all my energy on this area, and started taking time in my life again to focus on my healing and health maintenance.
Now, three weeks later, I am still focusing on this area, and making incredible gains. The knot of tissue is almost gone. I can’t find many issues in my stomach at all. This is so great. Along with this tissue finally loosening up, I am feeling even more gains in my overall musclular health. I can work all day if I like with NO pain. I went skiing last weekend and felt great.
It is so worth it to learn to find your own trigger points and treat them yourself.
AND, if your treatment for something isn’t working, maybe you are treating the wrong area! Most times, if you can recreate your pain or issue by pressing on the muscle, you know that’s the right muscle.
Filed under: Listening to your Body, Reversing Fibromyalgia, Thoughts and Emotions, Wellness
I reversed fibromyalgia in my own body over the course of about 5 years. Here’s the timeline of what I did.
I like to say that if I knew in 2003 when I started treating my fibromyalgia that I actually was going to cure it, I would have taken notes, that way this timeline could be complete and accurate. But, I did not know – I was just trying to feel a little bit better, so this timeline is put together only by my memory as to exactly what I did when and how much it helped me at the time.
I also want to say right here that if I knew then what I know now I would have been able to reverse fibromyalgia in much less time than 5 years. I obviously can’t say for sure, but I think if I had to do it over again with my current knowledge I could have done it in 1 to 2 years.
It all began in march 2003 after my son was born. What previously had been occasional headaches and muscle aches and sore backs and necks since I was 15 or so now became full-fledged fibromyalgia. I had constant stiff necks, I couldn’t carry my son or sit in a chair without incredible pain and stiffness. I couldn’t drive or put my hair in a pony tail without pain. I was constantly tired and sore. I knew something was wrong. I was different.
Year 1: 100% fibromyalgia
I was diagnosed and given the standard information about managing your pain, not trying to do too much, and learning to live with fibromyalgia.
I wanted to feel at least a little bit better, so I bought a stretching program off the Internet that looked like it might help. It mostly stretched the neck and back and shoulders, because that was where the majority of my pain was.
Looking back on this, if I had known then what I know now, I would have actually started with supported stretches that concentrate on the hips, like the ones in my book, because I believe these would have brought me faster and more effective overall relief.
I worked myself up to about 40 minutes of stretching twice a day. It was effective, I was seeing results, but it was very slow going.
I also experimented with my diet a bit – I added in probiotics and high-quality fish oil, both of which had profound, visceral effects on my nervous system. I could feel my nervous system respond with an awake, zingy feeling. (not to be taken before bed).
Year 2: 80% fibromyalgia.
I was feeling better. I still had a lot of pain, but instead of diffuse, systemic pain I could start to tell which muscle group was bothering me. – so say, instead of a diffuse headache, I would have a sore and stiff neck and chest that occassionally gave me stabbing head pains. lol. I was able to function a bit better and longer.
My chiropractor started trying some new treatments on me, both of which tipped me off to the fact that much of my problem was directly related to adhesions between my fascia and my muscles, trigger points, and tissues that were stuffed full of something (which I later theorized to be stress chemicals for me).
First he tried the graston technique. He took a heavy metal bar and rubbed it across the skin on my chest and shoulders with a teeny bit of pressure. This hurt like you would not believe. Clench-my-teeth-to-keep-from-screaming hurt. but oh, it helped too. Afterwards my muscles would feel a bit looser and free-er. I started to take a butter knife at home and run it over my shoulder muscles when they felt locked up.
Next, his assistant tried something that I can’t remember what it was called. It was some sort of releasing technique, and basically she would hold on to my chest muscles with one hand, and pull in the opposite way of how I was moving while I moved my shoulder around in it’s full range of motion. This also hurt like you would not believe, but also seemed to bring sweet relief afterwards.
The procedures with the chiropractor were moving so slowly – they seemed helpful but every time I went it seemed like we were starting over at square one, and I wanted to MOVE. I wanted to get better NOW, not after 12 to 18 treatments or whatever.
So, I started looking at what the treatments were doing for me (manipulating my muscles and fascia in ways that I did not normally do, with the intention of getting blood flowing to them, freeing any adhesions, releasing scar tissue, and working out trigger points). I started trying to figure out how I could do all that on my own at home.
I came across the book The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief and bought it and started putting the recommended self-trigger point massage treatments into effect immediately.
This replaced stretching, and I started treating my trigger points for up to two hours a day. The problem was, I literally had hundreds of trigger points in my body. It was almost disheartening to discover just how many trigger points I had, because each one of them needed individual attention.
If we have about 650 muscles in our bodies, and I had 4 or 5 trigger points in small muscles and 20 or more in big muscles, which is what I determined, then I may have, at one point had over 8000 trigger points in my body. NO WONDER I WAS SO MISERABLE!
What is a trigger point you may ask? Well, the guy who wrote the book says that a trigger point is an area of sarcomeres (mucles cells) that are tight and bunched up, restricting blood flow and causing pain and that they are caused by muscle overuse or injury.
I have also run across the idea that trigger points are bunched up areas of fascia, and the reason they seem to be in the muscle is because not only does every muscle have its own covering of fascia, but every muscle fiber does too, so the fascia and the mucles are indistinguishable from each other, really.
Regardless, it doesn’t matter. Trigger points are tiny areas in a muscle that hurt ‘exquisitely’ when pressed on and they create referred pain and weakness in muscles. Plus, since your body is constantly trying to reach a state of balanced health, when you have tons of them and your body is always working on them, you are tired.
So, anyway, I doggedly started working on my trigger points in the manner described in the book and I saw relief – major relief. I was definitely feeling better.
I tried acupuncture in this year but it didn’t seem to help me much so I didn’t keep it on. I think my self-trigger point massage was doing for me what acupuncture my otherwise have done.
Year 3: 60% fibromyalgia
I started getting regular massages and one day my massage therapist told me about the medicine guaifenesin. She said she had a man in the day before who used to have fibromyalgia, but now his muscles were ‘like butter’ and he credited guaifenesin with the reversal. I looked it up on the internet and discovered the guaifenesin protocol. Now, I have many strong opinions about the guaifenesin protocol but the simple fact is that it helped me immensely.
I saw relief within days, which is not entirely normal – read my experiences with it – and then I reached a plateau at about 9 months, so I stopped taking it and continued my search for what would continue to help me.
About this time, I started developing my supported stretches to reverse fibromyalgia, based on an experience I had with supported child’s pose.
I started doing these stretches for one hour in the morning and another 40 minutes in the evening. They were incredibly helpful to me in learning to relax my body at will, draining stress chemicals, and starting to stretch my hips, which I now believe are the most important areas that need to be stretched in fibro.
I also discovered at this point that I was perpetuating fibromyalgia with certain habits and attitudes that I had, and whenever I got really mad or upset about something I was setting myself up for some major pain no matter how much stretching I did. Hmmm. this was the beginning of learning how to dismiss negative thoughts for me, and I think it is the most important thing I ever did.
I truly believe that if I had not had certain personality traits (controlling, resentful, people-pleaser, easy to blame or anger, anxious, fearful, believing if I don’t do it it won’t be done or done right, not trusting) I would not have gotten fibro in the first place, and I also believe if the only work I had done would have been to change my personality to eliminate some of these emotional habits and actions, my body would have eventually cured itself of fibro without my taking any physcial actions like massage and stretching.
Pretty strong claim, but I believe it.
In this year I also tried and failed at a low carbohydrate diet meant to control blood sugar swings and the fibromyalgia-similar symptoms that go along with them. I try this again in year 5, and did much better.
Year 4: 40% fibromyalgia:
This may have been the first year that I started believing I could cure fibromyalgia. I was feeling good, better than I had in years. I started working on my emotional freedom also and started feeling moments of happiness and actual joy that felt better than I can ever remember feeling in my whole life.
Feeling physically and emotionally good was not a consistent thing – I was especially susceptible to falling back into my old habits emotionally, and when I did, boy oh boy, my old pain would come back. This was good though – it gave me that extra motivation I needed to really try to figure out what was keeping me in habits that made me feel bad, and fix them.
I had gotten used to feeling bad emotionally – to tolerating quite a bit of negative emotion, and that state of consistent negative emotion had taken its toll on my body. No matter how good a series of stretches made me feel, I could go back to square one in an instant with a flash of anger or resentment.
So, I spent much of this year continuing my supported stretches, experimenting with deep tissue massage, and working on my emotional states.
Lets talk about the deep tissue massage – this is something I never could have handled or wanted in the early years, but once I got to this level of wellness I LOVED deep tissue massage. It hurt like fire, but it was a good sort of hurt – the kind of hurt that always signaled to me that some healing was going on – that some tissue that really needed it was getting incredible healing touch. Plus, every time I went it hurt a little less, and I was a little better.
I also discovered an alphabiotocist at the nearby farmer’s market and went to him about 8 times. The first time I went he ‘adjusted’ me in a way similar to what a chiropractor does, and I felt an immediate response in my body. The next day, my body went back to the way it had been, which was ‘out of alignment’ according to the man, and I almost violently felt that too. I could feel that my left hip had been pulled down a bit by my tight muscles. It was quite horrible until I got back to him and he fixed it again. After I’d been to him several times, my body stayed consistently where it was supposed to and I felt no further benefit by going back to him, so I didn’t.
Now, let’s talk about working on my emotional states. This is a hard one, because it means something different to everyone. Let me tell you a bit about what it meant to me. I lived with some violent and angry and fearful people when I was growing up, and I took on their emotional states. Once I figured out I had done this, I realized that what I wanted to be like was the opposite of what I was like.
I wanted to be happy, free, joyful, relaxed, calm, kind, secure, and thoughtful. The problem was, I had no beliefs that would make me any of these things. For example, happy people generally believe everything always works out for them, their life is going well, good things surround them and are coming, their life is good and getting better … these kinds of things. But, I did not believe any of that! Look where I was! Look what had happened to me!
sigh. lol. So, I started on a quest to feel better. I talk about that a bit here in my Learn to Shut your Mind off and more is coming.
Year 5: 20% Fibromyalgia
Oh my goodness did I feel good here. Just feeling good in my body was enough many times to help me feel good emotionally. It was like I did the downward spiral my whole life, and then as soon as I started working on my fibromyalgia, I started the upward spiral, and every time my body felt better, my mind was able to gain a fresh, happier outlook, and every time my mind got a little happier, my body felt a little better, and the better it gets, the better it gets, and how far up does this upward spiral go? I’m still on it, and it feels great. This upward spiral is what I most want to share with you.
I kept working on my emotional states – always striving to feel a bit better, find a bit more relief, and I tried to take up meditation (never really worked for me so far) for the health benefits.
In this year, I discovered that guaifenesin has an analgesic effect related strongly to its ability to relax skelatal muscles. Read about that on my guaifenesin protocol post or get my free booklet about guaifenesin by signing up for my mailing list (top right).
So, I started taking guaifenesin again to see if there was any benefit at my current level of wellness. I think there was, although it was subtle.
In this year, I also tried the low carbohydrate diet again. I went more moderate carbohydrate and let myself eat carbs if I wanted to or when I was on my period, so that there wasn’t such a sense of deprivation. This has been much more successful (I’m still doing it, and I have lost weight – woohoo). I can feel a difference in my body when I eat carbs – more tenderness, puffiness, and tiredness, but I’m OK with it sometimes. I also am more able to handle carbs without pain then I used to be, and I do more sweeteners like agave, erithrotol, xylitol, and non-bitter stevia so that I can still have sweet-tasting foods.
At the end of this year I also discovered YOGA. I started out with a rest and rejuvenation class and a therapuetic class. These classes are gentle and slow-paced and are more about stretching and getting rid of pain than they are about working out. I had been doing some yoga stretches for years, but these classes took me to the next level.
Then, eventually I went to a real class. A regular, sweat-dripping off you, breathing hard, stretch farther than you’ve ever stretched class. It was awesome and I was hooked. After the class I was high for hours. I had to be careful because if I went to class at night and it was a good class I would be up all night because I was so energized. Yoga is really the final piece of this healing puzzle for me.
How I Feel Now
Now in years 6 to 7 (as I write this) I am still experimenting with things that can make me feel even better. Even though I no longer have fibromyalgia I do still have a bit of what I consider to be ‘extra sensitivity’ in my muscles.
If I overdo computer work or get really upset about something, I can feel some tenderness in my muscles or I might sleep an extra couple of hours for no apparent reason (I don’t have to get up at a set hour, so I sleep till I wake every day – most days I will wake about 8.5 hours after I went to sleep but after a stressful or resistant day I might sleep 10.5 or more hours).
I think I may always have this extra sensitivity, as my body has chosen muscular tenderness and fatigue as a way to express its need for rest, repair, attention, renewal, and consideration. I’m cool with that, especially since I now know how to do it. I’m also grateful for the very obvious, visceral source of discomfort to let me know “stop what you are doing or thinking!” ” take some time to get back in alignment with who you are and your ‘healthy habits’ “. That way I never get so far gone that I have a ‘flare’ or really set myself back. I always notice in the early stages.
I do yoga as much as I can. I stretch at least a little every day. and I pay very close attention to how I feel emotionally and physically.
What I hope you get out of this experience of mine is that healing from fibromyalgia is not a one-shot, do it and you’re done, one-size-fits-all type of thing. I tried many things. There were some things I tried that I did not mention here because they did little or nothing for me. I didn’t do stretch A for x number of minutes, and then get procedure B for x number of treatments and then I was cured.
I made a decision to try whatever it took to feel a little better, and then I followed the cues that my body and my life were giving me on what to next. I never have pronounced myself ‘good enough’ or ‘done’. I will strive to feel a little bit better, emotionally and physically, for the rest of my life, although I no longer have the illness called fibromyalgia.
Thanks to this experience, I don’t believe that my health and my mental processes will decline as I get old – because I was on the declining fast track, and now I’ve discovered the secret to thriving and to the opposite of declining.
Could it be that fibromyalgia is just a fast track into the same kind of declining that normally happens during old age? Interesting food for thought.
Please, tell me your thoughts or your experiences by leaving me a comment or emailing me. I would love to hear from you. Lisa
Filed under: Listening to your Body, Reversing Fibromyalgia, Sleep Better, Thoughts and Emotions, Wellness
One of the most important things I ever did to help me transition from having fibromyalgia to not having fibromyalgia was learn to shut my mind off and dismiss thoughts that came to me. To stop thinking and obsessing about my day, my pain, my issues, what my husband said or didn’t do, what I should have done, what I should do next time, what I would do if I ever was in a certain situation, and on and on.
I spent a lot of time worrying about things, running what ifs through my mind, and analyzing the rightness and wrongness of situations and people’s actions.
Wow, just writing that out makes me realize how incredibly different I am today from how I was just 4 years ago. I can remember laying in bed and tossing and turning and getting so frustrated or wound up by the conversations and scenarios going on in my head. And then I would wonder why I couldn’t sleep.
These days my mind is mostly quiet unless I am actively working on a project or deliberately appreciating something in order to invoke the good feelings and good health appreciation brings. I fall asleep in less than 5 minutes every night. If I get up to help my son or go to the bathroom I fall immediately back to sleep. I purposely don’t worry and do minimal analyzing and planning. I deliberately trust and have faith that things will work out in my favor. It’s just easier that way, and every day my nervous system gets a little calmer and a little more relaxed.
For me, even getting rid of pain is less important to me than being able to dismiss thoughts and calm my mind for two reasons.
- Pain is translated by the brain and transmitted via the nervous system. The brain is part of the nervous system, and when the brain is wound up and hyper-sensitive, that contributes to the nervous system being wound up and hyper- sensitive, which makes pain more acute and intense, in my experience.
- I have found that if I can stop focusing on pain – if I can get my mind off of it, it becomes less intense. If I can keep my mind off it long enough, I can either fall asleep or continue about my day, and in many cases when I wake up or think about it again, it has lessened or disappeared. Having a set routine and position that I get into to relax and purposely quiet my mind helps with this. Purposely focusing on an area of my body that is not currently painful is also helpful.
One example in which this has been very helpful for me is acute muscle cramps. It used to be that if I got a cramp in my back or my hamstring I would grit my teeth, maybe moan or scream a little, and just wait for it to be over, all the while focusing all my attention on it. Cramps seemed to last forever – at least 30 seconds or so before they loosened.
I don’t get muscle cramps anymore, but in years 4 and 5 of my recovery, if I ever did, I started trying something new. If I felt a cramp coming on I would purposely deepen my breathing, focus my attention on the opposite leg or the opposite back muscle (the one in the same area on the other side of my body that wasn’t having a cramp) and do my best to relax the other muscles in my body. Cramps started to lessen and loosen in seconds. It was actually quite amazing.
So, hopefully I have convinced you of the value and benefits of calming and soothing and quieting your mind. Now let’s talk about how to learn how to do it.
Learning to quiet your mind and dismiss your thoughts, especially your negative ones, is not an instant thing, just like healing your body from fibromyalgia is not an instant thing. Be easy on yourself, you will eventually get this.
I read a certain book three times in the last 6 years, and it helped me each time with this issue. The first time I read it I got a general idea out of it, but didn’t feel that I took too much away from it because the ideas in it were really foreign to me. The second time I read it (4 years later) I was nodding my head in agreement and saying YES! this makes so much sense! and the third time I read it was mostly for fine-tuning.
What I am saying here is that if you take this book and read it, your sub-conscious mind will work on it and start seeing where the ideas in it apply to you and can help you and you will start to act on some of these suggestions and you will gradually find your mind quieting over time, even if in this instant you feel frustrated because you are frustrated. We change gradually, and just reading this book is like an instruction to your brain on what kind of a person you want to transition into.
The book is: You Can Feel Good Again: Common-Sense Strategies for Releasing Unhappiness and Changing Your Life I highly recommend it. In my opinion, the central message is that we all have inner wisdom that helps us through life but we can’t hear it or benefit from it when our mind is constantly chattering. Start today by recognizing that you are thinking about something that you don’t need to give anymore attention to, and deliberately let the thought go. Don’t follow it. and find peace and happiness.
That’s how it worked for me.
Another way to learn to quiet your mind is to take up a daily practice of meditation or relaxation. I did the relaxation for a long time and tried to do the meditation, although I still am not very good at meditating, but what I found the most success with was yoga. Every yoga class ends with savasana, or corpse pose, which means you spend 5 to 10 minutes after the workout laying on your back and relaxing and letting the benefits of the hard work sink into your body. I have found that in a class setting, or even after doing an intense tape, I can best let my mind just be and not think about anything.
And I become calmer, happier, more peaceful, and relaxed. It’s so wonderful. Life can be good, I promise.
Filed under: Listening to your Body, Reversing Fibromyalgia, Sleep Better, Stress, Wellness
Supported child’s pose is a yoga posture that has great healing and restorative benefits for many illnesses, especially fibromyalgia. I was introduced to this pose in year 3 of my recovery. I was watching a yoga dvd and the third or fourth pose was this one. I got into it, and it felt so good that I stayed in it for 40 minutes while the yoga tape played on to completion.
There was a point in my recovery from fibro where I got up an hour early so I could stay in this pose for an hour. I would set an alarm in case I fell back asleep. I would also stay in this pose for about 40 minutes in the evening. I did this for 6 months or so and it was a time of very accelerated healing for me.
I highly recommend this pose to anyone with any illness and especially fibromyalgia. I credit it with helping me learn to truly relax my body and with draining many stress chemicals. I still do this pose occasionally if I have had a really full day or if my body is feeling drained.
I think the pose is most beneficial if you stay in it for at least 10 minutes at a time. I also recommend you clear your mind, dismiss any thoughts that come up, and breathe deeply. I like to run the phrase ‘breathe into all four corners of your ribs’ through my mind to help me remember to breathe fully.
This is a wonderful stress buster, and if you start doing it in the evening before bed for 10 minutes or more, you may find that you gradually start to sleep deeper and easier. It puts you in relax and unwind mode.
Here’s how you do the pose in a wonderful video. If for some reason the video won’t play, go here. the first couple seconds may be an ad.
Advanced version of supported Child’s Pose: I like to do an advanced version of this pose to stretch my groin and inner thighs and knees and abdomen. I would not advice anyone try this until they have done child’s pose for many months and are feeling good, and even then, go very slow.
What you do, is get into supported child’s pose like normal, then very slowly, move your ankles apart. You’ll feel the stretch. I try to play around with it but I can only stay with a very moderate stretch for a few minutes.
Filed under: Guaifenesin, Listening to your Body, Reversing Fibromyalgia, Sleep Better, Supplements, Teachers of Wellness, Thoughts and Emotions
I just purchased your book last night and have a few questions. I have had fibro for 4-5 years now and have tried everything including right now I am under a naturopath for a year taking liquid magnesium for muscle relaxant which does help and take Seriophos which is L-theanine and magnesium for sleep and muscle relaxant which does help also. My question, did you try magnesium or is that just a Band-Aid as when I stop it my fibro pain worsens and constipation since having fibro worsens?
Results with magnesium could be highly personal: Hi! I tried magnesium after my massage therapist recommended it, and found no benefit from it at all. However, I tried it in year 3 of my recovery, and the results may have been much different in year zero or year one. If magnesium helps you, in my opinion, you should continue to take it as long as the benefits outweigh any issues it may bring you (if there are any).
Even if it is a band-aid, it can have value: It may be a band-aid, however, in the early months, weeks, and years of a fibromyalgia recovery, band-aids can be quite helpful, in that they allow the suffering person enough peace and energy to pursue recovery via massage, trigger-point treatment, sustained stretches, emotional sculpting, and anything else that they may have an interest in trying.
It also may not be a band-aid: I don’t know for sure. It may be that magnesium does something extremely important for a person with fibromyalgia, and the only reason I didn’t notice a difference was because I had already caused that effect in my body with something else I was doing or had done.
(Note – more recently I have written another post on this issue, stating that I think magnesium may have a lot of value in the early stages of reversing firbomyalgia)
So, if you find magnesium helps you, or want to try magnesium and see what it does for you, I think it’s a valid treatment option. Check with your doctor and then monitor the results.