Many years of trauma meant, for me, many years of being in hyper-vigilance.  It felt/feels like I’ve been in fight/flight since before I was born.  After my son was diagnosed with his condition, I developed panic attacks within about 3 months, and within a year was experiencing significant physical pain in my muscles and joints all the time.  This necessitated wrapping my arms and legs in some brand of pain ointment and wrapping them in elastic bandages. (Ben-Gay and Ace Wraps)  Many visits to physicians, many tests, all of which came up negative or close enough to negative to not make for a solid diagnosis.  One rheumatologist diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, and the rheumatologist I still have to this day said he didn’t believe in fibromyalgia, but that if there is such a condition my symptoms match it more closely than any other patient he’s had.  We’ve had a solid pain management regimen for many years with no significant increases in medications, and some significant decreases at times.  As a nurse who has never been sure about herbal or other alternative therapies it’s been very hard to accept.  The only thing that makes sense to me is that with all the early trauma I suffered, and the ongoing trauma I attracted/created  when my son was diagnosed it was the final blow.  My nervous system was shot, and my body’s ability to tolerate pain destroyed.

This is what happens when you’re in fight/flight/freeze for too many  years, especially if there is physical and sexual abuse accompanied by intense anger.  The number of women I know with fibromyalgia has increased astronomically as time has passed.  It’s a life wrecker, and makes it all the more challenging to be there for your family.  Many women end up completely disabled for at least some period of time.  Still, there are few good studies, and only a couple medications with any promise for treatment.  I suppose this is a warning of sorts to learn to handle your stress with meditation or exercise and diet if you can.  Fibromyalgia seems to strike after a trauma that doesn’t fit with the pain itself.  Chronic pain is stigmatizing, and for those of us with low self-esteem or self-hatred issues, it heaps on more reasons to self-denigrate.  Don’t wait for the pain to start, learn how to handle stress now and find ways to heal the trauma you’ve suffered if you can.  It may save you from decades of disability and a much smaller life than you want.


~ by janetlandis on August 13, 2009.

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