miintikwa: (Beauty & the Beast)
I was diagnosed with fibro in the 90s, before I knew what WebMD was. When I did a search for it (on my then-much-beloved AOL account!) I got a few results. Nothing that really told me what it was, or how much it would destroy my life.

Living with the disease taught me more than any website. Which is both sad and good, I suppose, given some of the insane things written about fibro.

When I lost my last job because of absenteeism, when I finally admitted that there was no way I could continue living the way I was, I got deeply depressed. I felt like my life was some very unfunny joke. I spent weeks in bed, trying to figure out what I could possibly do to 'fix' it.

Then I got Bell's Palsy. It was one of the most painful illnesses I've ever experienced. The cluster headaches I got before my facial nerve seized up were so bad I would lie in a dark room with a cold cloth on my head and cry as quietly as I could, because any movement added to the pain. It was a relief when the diagnosis came, because the horrific pain had finally stopped.

It also led me to a crystallizing thought: I could let this mess kick my butt or I could laugh at it and live.

The Bell's Palsy attack was demoralizing. It opened my eyes to exactly how vain I am, to how important your face is in this world, and to how crippling a "mild" illness really can be. But it also showed me that I matter to people (my in-laws and husband helped me immeasurably during the worst of it) and that I could recover. I swore if my face got better, I'd take my life back.

Once I was better, I kept that promise to myself. I searched for things that I had wanted to do. I started going out. I found a weekly drum circle and joined. I made friends there, and they connected me to awesome things. I joined a pagan group, I met more people. I even rode a horse for the first time in ages. I dove head-first into having a life again. I learned I had new limits, but I still managed to work around them.

To my surprise, my new friends didn't mind my limits. They helped me work around them, or understood when I had to cancel. It didn't occur to me then that these new friends had never known me pre-fibro; to them, this was how I was and they loved me anyway.

Their acceptance helped even more. I started accepting myself, my limitations, even that the fibro wasn't going away.

It stopped seeming like an evil joke and seemed more like a poorly told one, one I could laugh at despite myself. I have my moments, times where I get angry all over again, where I resent the limitations, or where I am frustrated because I pushed too far and my body failed me. But fortunately, these incidences are fewer than they used to be. I am better at working with the fibro, pushing to a point and then resting, and listening when my body says "oh hell no."

I laugh a lot more often than I cry. And that's a good thing.



This is week one's [livejournal.com profile] therealljidol entry. The topic is Jayus. If you enjoyed this entry, please vote for me here. Thanks!

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She talks to Owls

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