I started having severe knee pain whenever I walked a little too fast which was unusual for me, a sprint athlete back at school and who had played team sports from time to time while at university and then representing the organisations I worked for. As I always had in life, I decided to push through the pain hoping that it would pass. I could feel the pain spread to all parts of my body eventually over a period of two months. Finally I decided to see my GP about it. Multiple blood tests, scans, X-rays and speculations later, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia at the age of 28 in June 2018.
I had never heard of the disease before. My parents were in shock and so was my partner. I was relieved to have a name for my condition. I was determined to recover and bounce back from it as I always do when faced with a struggle. The specialist who diagnosed my condition prescribed some medications. I took them, even if I wouldn’t normally depend on so many pills for illness, this medication helped me function close to normal. I had pain and stiffness in the mornings when I woke. I had to drag myself out of bed to get to work. I had gone from getting ready in half an hour and being at work by 9am to reaching work only by 10-10.30am. I was mentally affected by my inability to get to work on time. But I carried on.
As I pushed through a few more months, came along further challenges. I suffered from digestive issues, low blood pressure that made me light headed and unable to concentrate on my work and on top of this severe lack of sleep. I went back to my specialist seeking solutions to my problems. Then I was told these were mere side effects of the medication I was on. I was bewildered having been told that I had to find the right balance between how much of the condition I could put up with and how much of it I needed to suppress using medication in order to still be able to function normally. I decided to continue on, by this time I was popping pills like they were a meal.
I had planned a vacation out to Europe in the months of August/September. I was glad to be away from the miserable winter in Melbourne during this time. I attended 2 weddings and lived in 5 different countries in all of 30 days. My pain was less as I was not under any stress and in the holiday spirit. But I found my body crashing on two occasions because I hadn’t listened to the signals from it to stop and take a break. My body’s capacity for multiple activities in a day were clearly limited compared to how much it used to be capable of. I felt frustrated but I carried on. I wanted to badly make the most of this dream holiday.
When I returned from the holiday, I was severely exhausted and things started getting worse. It was like my body was on strike, I caught acute bronchitis and spent two weeks up all-night coughing. After I slowly recovered from this, I decided to switch to part time at work. I figured this way I would have more time on my hands to work on bettering my health. But I could feel my body giving up. I was furious and had multiple emotional breakdowns in a week, I was feeling unable to cope for the first time in my life. My closest relationships suffered the brunt of it all as I grew more furious and frustrated about my circumstance. I went back to my specialist and asked to come off the medication as I had learnt that the medication, I was on could be part of the reason for my emotional problems.
I was asked to continue with the medication till I found an alternative to help me cope with the pain. I started researching a lot on the condition, its causes, triggers and the different non-pharmacological treatments/therapies that were said to help with the condition. I tried massages, acupuncture, Pilates, yoga and finally meditation. All these things contributed to my wellbeing.
I daresay meditation made a world of a difference. I am now able to acknowledge and accept the pain and carry on with my daily routine. I am less affected by it and I give myself some rest when I feel I need it. I no longer try and push through when I feel my body is trying to tell me not to. I’ve achieved all this in only 5 weeks of meditation 10-12 minutes daily; I would never have thought it possible having struggled for months with no effective solution to the problem.
I have been off any kind of medication since December last year when I took part in the More Than Meditation course and now believe in “mind over matter”.
While remedial massage gave me a few hours’ relaxation and relief from tension in the body, the effect of acupuncture lasted up to 2-3 days. I had severe migraine headaches that disabled me more than all of my other symptoms. And acupuncture was a real turning point for me as far as these headaches were concerned.
As I had started to feel my energy slowly return to my body, today I continue to religiously meditate, visit my acupuncturist every week and attend Pilates classes to strengthen my muscles and maintain flexibility in them. I eat healthy and I follow a healthy routine of going to sleep and waking up at the same time, a very different lifestyle to which I had chosen before.
More for the mind
My journey with Fibromyalgia has taught me the importance of mental health and its effect on physiological aspects in general. Apart from meditating I have gone back to doing the things I enjoy doing like reading, dancing, traveling and engaging in the service of others. I believe that this has had a lot to do with my recovery too.
In terms of underlying psychological stressors that triggered this disease within me, it took me thinking long and hard before I arrived at the conclusion. I had a strained relationship with my parents, probably for no fault of theirs due to various cultural restrictions I had to fight to make for myself the life I thought I rightfully deserved. I no longer hold grudges against the people that have hurt me. I have worked through those past experiences with my psychologist and am determined to live the full life I set out to live in the first place. I am grateful for the lessons so far and to God for giving me the strength to persevere and reach my current state of health, which seemed near impossible to me 5 months ago.