I May Be a Bit Tired

Sometimes I just get tired. Not the I-don’t-have-any-energy tired. That’s like, me all the time. I mean the sick and tired kind of tired. The utterly weary tired.

I’m tired of needing to go to bed, almost wanting to go to bed, and refusing to because I know I’ll just stare at the walls for an hour and/or wake up every hour for the next however many and/or wake up in three hours completely unable to go back to sleep.

I’m similarly tired of wanting to go to bed but deciding not to because I know I won’t be able to get comfortable, no matter how much my closing eyes imply sleep is very near.

I’m tired of reaching dinner, having only been up 2 or 7 hours, and thinking how I probably won’t make it through the show I was going to watch at 8, as my body is already in shut-down mode, having also accomplished nothing that day.

I’m tired of twitching all night, meaning during the part that I’m asleep, to the point of almost scaring my husband, all unbeknownst to me while it is happening. Which probably has a great hand in the problem above this one.

I’m tired of jumping around between experimental supplements, having given up on prescriptions, hoping that something like Sam-e, 5 htp, B-12, or Passion Flower will somehow make me feel much, much better.

I’m tired of forgetting to take my 7 vitamins (literally) and then feeling guilty for not feeling well, mistakenly thinking if I had taken them I would actually feel good.

I’m tired of acting like everything’s okay when it’s simply not.

I’m tired of going to the doctor every so many months like someone who’s … not my age.

I’m tired of leaving things to my husband to get done because I’m too [insert tired, weak, shaky, sensory-overloaded, depressed, in tears, or as I generally feel is the cause, lazy] to do it.

I’m tired of the current state of my wreck of an “office/jewelry studio” that I don’t seem to have the physical/mental capacity to tackle anymore.

I’m tired of chest pains that really have nothing to do with my chest at all but are just the annoying locale fibro has chosen for the time being.

I’m tired of people mistakenly thinking I can just do something and get better and be back to “the old me.”

I’m tired of trying to explain my problems, shortcomings, allergies, food needs to people, inconveniencing them with things that are much more than an inconvenience to me.

I’m tired of looking my husband in the face and thinking, Yep, I’m really not here right now.

I’m tired of hitting the same wall every night, when I sit down and wonder at the fact that this. is. my. life. for the rest of my life on earth.

I’m tired of it all.

And I’m tired of being tired of it all.

That is what fibromyalgia looks like.

Advertisements

This Window I Live Through

As humans, we want to see things for ourselves—to believe them, to understand them. Even if we can’t see something in person, we want to see pictures of it to really believe it, hence, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” That’s one reason that it’s so hard to believe invisible illnesses like fibromyalgia are really as bad as they’re cracked up to be by those who claim to have them. We can’t show you visible proof of them, unless tears count.

I wish I could somehow capture this life with fibromyalgia in a picture for you. Because, look at me and you’ll see I look quite healthy. Honestly, even I find myself looking at pictures of others who have the same or a similar illness and thinking how okay they look. Even I can’t completely weed that tendency out of myself. But you just have to take our word for it.

This lack of ability to capture fibro in visible form then leads my writer’s mind to try to describe it in the best metaphors I can possibly contrive. To capture it in comparisons that will resonate with your experiences and make you think, Oh my gosh, that must be torture to live with, and actually feel a rush of the experience itself for an instant, kind of like watching Titanic and for a brief moment almost actually feeling what Rose is experiencing.

Yet I really can’t even do that. I’ve compared fibro to a prison, in what I feel is the closest example my mind has produced. But the longer I get to know this disgusting enemy of mine, the more comparisons fill themselves out in my mind. Some of which probably do nothing but drive the illness’s bleakness and complexities home for me more than for those who I pass the comparison along to.

Nevertheless, I’ve mentioned before that there is always something wrong. But believe it or not, I actually am still human in the midst of all this, though it honestly does not feel like it. And I am realizing further why that is. While there really is always something wrong in the fibro sense, things actually do go wrong now and then in a simply human sense. Yes, I still get colds and paper cuts and hiccups. But when I know that every single one of my body systems is affected by this illness, I suddenly find that I have absolutely no sense of what is “normal” and what is the fibro living itself out. And further, what problem is “just fibro” or actually something else wrong entirely?

Is that chest pain just fibro, or is there actually something wrong in there? Is that stabbing pain in my temple that makes me gasp just the brief invisible knife that travels around my body, or the sign of something life-threatening? Is that rush of anger the medicine talking, or am I that hateful? Do I really feel as bad as I think I do, or does everyone feel this way and I’m in fact just lazy? Is it the fibro fog keeping me from being excited about a happy event, or am I really a messed-up person who can’t even get excited for people I care about? And is it the fibro fog making me feel absolutely nothing emotionally right now when anyone else would be panicking, or is there something else entirely wrong with that part of my brain?

How do I know what is “just fibro” and what is “just human”?

And in all of this, I’m finding that fibro has become so much me, and has been for such a large part of my life, that I really don’t even know who I am without it. In every area of my life. In every emotional reaction and lack thereof, am I that animated for real or am I just trying to mask my depression around others? Am I that dull for real or is it just the fibro fog? Am I even awake right now? Do I really even realize that I’m married?!

I really don’t even know if I really know what is going on anymore. Like I am a robot performing (minimal) daily tasks, without all of the real emotion that accompanies living and knowing that you are really living. Kind of like living this life through a window. A cold window in a splintered frame against a blur of laughter and darkness.

A Day Without Pain

As abnormal as fibro makes me feel, believe it or not, I do still get to enjoy all the “normal” sicknesses that plague humanity. Such as a cold. This past week I had one of the worst I’ve ever had. Understandably, I felt horrible. Fibro already tends to leave me miserable, so add a very nasty fever-causing, sore throat, aching all over, cold-sweat, shivering, roasting cold worsened by already having fibro, and I didn’t know how I was going to get through it.

So overall, my discomfort was relatively understandable. And also very temporary (after the shot and antibiotics that have become standard procedure for me, that is). Because when you have a cold, you know one day very soon you’ll wake up and be all better. Oh for the temporariness of bad things: “It will get better,” and “This too shall pass”? Not in my case.

Living with fibromyalgia is like having a life sentence with no hope of release—all in response to a verdict of innocence. Or like being held under water and knowing that you don’t get to come up for air.

I am allergic to potatoes, a discovery made a couple decades into my life.

I miss them. I want some French fries really, really bad. I know I can never eat them again, yet I wish that I could eat them just once more—to have just one day that I could order them like a normal person, instead of having the boring replacement of a salad or cole slaw. But as much as I wish I could get away with just eating them once, I know the hope is ridiculous.

Similarly, but much more seriously, I know I won’t ever wake up one day and be cured of fibro. I don’t earnestly even wish for that. I just wish I could have one day without any pain, just one day’s break to hope for or look forward to.

Even though I hate colds, boy, do I love how you know they do go away eventually. But the knowledge that there will likely never be a moment in this fibro body where I actually feel no pain is, in most moments, more than I care to imagine but impossible to escape.

All My Fault Even When It’s Not

I don’t think I’ll ever understand the rather common phenomenon of people taking any negative happening that involves them in some way and twisting out a reasoning that involves their being the one at fault.

I am sure there is some psychological explanation that leads people to do this. But I’m content to go with the thought that they care so much about the people in their lives that they automatically want to take the blame for everything. Even when it doesn’t make sense at all. I sometimes have this tendency myself, at least inwardly, and have a husband who has a very strong tendency toward it, so I’m getting used to trying to combat it when it is probably well-meant but completely irrational.

For some reason, feeling guilty is an easily come-by feeling, in so many areas, chronic illnesses included. And I don’t just mean guilt over the dishes piling up for a few days. (Gasp, I know.)

It is extremely difficult to articulate exactly what fibromyalgia feels like physically. A lot of people compare it to the flu that never goes away, for lack of a better common experience with healthy people—a terribly wanting analogy in my book. But it is just as hard, if not harder, to articulate exactly what fibromyalgia feels like emotionally. There’s a double thrust of steady artillery flying at the emotions, each vying for attention and exacerbating the conflict by the others’ presence.

Life like this stinks. It leaves you upset, disappointed, and unsatisfied and feeling unaccomplished, unhelpful, quite a failure, and definitely less than human.

But as if the unignorable stabs of all of that aren’t enough, there’s the more subtle but equally crippling feeling that I have recently discovered thriving in the back of this over-stimulated, exhausted mind: guilt.

How silly—it’s an unexplained chronic illness with no cure, no certain cause but only guesses, all of which are not my fault. And also knowing I’ve dealt with levels of this since I was about twelve settles the fact: I surely did not cause myself to have this. I didn’t drop the ball on life, not exercise enough, not eat well enough, spiral myself into depression, or grasp at straws for pity and attention. Fibromyalgia chose me; I did not choose it.

So why do I even begin to feel like I’m to blame for my life being like this? The fact that I know my having all of these problems not only inconveniences family and friends but confuses them, burdens them, saddens them, and worries them. Especially my husband, obviously. I know he understands. I know it doesn’t make him upset with me or disappointed in me because he knows it’s not my fault and I don’t exactly have control over what I can and can’t do each day.

But honestly, I figure it’s a lot to ask to expect people to never, ever get annoyed when I have to put off talking to a good friend on the phone for a few days because I couldn’t get out of bed in time to call her, when I don’t even want to think about fixing dinner and ask my husband if he could just pick up something, when I miss a month or more of Sunday morning services because my sleep cycle is so out of order, or when I finally fall asleep just after hearing my husband leave for work in the morning, the birds chirping (a.k.a. screaming to a non-morning person) and the rest of the world up and living like you’re supposed to.

And yet, even though no one has chewed me out for these things or really implied frustration with me, I assume they must be feeling that way at some point or another. I feel like it’s my own stupid fault, even if I didn’t cause the illness after all, for not trying harder or something. Maybe I am a lazy bum. Maybe it is all my fault for all my social and house-cleaning shortcomings.

Even though I know thousands of other people feel just like me, the guilt is still there, intangibly, hauntingly, so evenly spread over my unpredictable emotions that even I am sometimes fooled.

So what do I do about it? Well, when my husband starts the irrational guilt thing, I lovingly but firmly tell him to stop. It’s completely irrational, and he sees that.

Now if someone could just get into this brain, give it a good shake, and show it how completely irrational it’s being, maybe it would see that and shut up. And then maybe I could start trying to deflect just one line of fire, instead of two.

A Hope, a Longing, and a Comfort: Three Fibro Anthems, Part II

This second song has become basically my life’s anthem anymore. Dying to do what I can’t and to be how I can’t be. The song is “Wild Horses” sung by Natasha Bedingfield and written by her, Andrew Marcus Frampton, and Wayne Wilkins (not to be confused with the other song by the same name about not letting them drag you away).

Again, somehow this is comforting from a fibro-sufferer’s perspective. And to someone without fibromyalgia, it gives them a brief glimpse into our life. I won’t copy all the lyrics that apply here, as I’d be copying almost the whole song; on so many levels, this song sums up the cries of my life (quoting myself, not the song):

How did I get here?

Why is this happening?

Why can’t I just do what I want, clean the house, fall asleep when I need to, go visit my best friend, run buy groceries, go out with my husband?

I see how I want to be, but I’m stuck in this prison of a body.

Why can’t I just be free??

I’ve mentioned before that I experienced fibromyalgia symptoms many years before my diagnosis. So on retrospect, I don’t see myself as ever really having been “normal.” But at least I thought I was. And as best I could tell, I was normal. Just an introverted, melancholy personality. Who had a few unexplainable quirks in the pain department. But besides all that, healthy. And compared to now, I definitely was. I used to be able to take hours-long shopping trips, buy groceries when I needed to, go to bed at night without crying more often than not, and experience activity-altering pain only about once a month in the female realm. I was free.

Now I am locked up inside my worst enemy, one that basically controls my muscles, my skin, my intestines, my thinking, and my emotions, just to name a few.

It’s very easy to look at others who are healthy and living like they’ve not a care in the world and be … saddened. Among other feelings. But then, since a lot of them have no idea what I’m living with, chances are a lot of them have their own personal struggles in any number of forms. So longing to be free like it appears others are, while easy, would be very hypocritical of me.

So I’ll settle for the symbolic realm, as my creativity is comfortable there anyway, and let Natasha put into words what I am not and what I wish I could be.

~~~~~

In case you missed Part I of my Three Fibro Anthems, go here.