About three years ago I experienced a massive wave of muscle cramps throughout my torso. The muscles were so constricted I felt as though I couldn’t breathe.
I ended up being diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a musculoskeletal chronic pain condition.
Today the pain is pretty regular day-to-day. The most common places I feel pain are my face, neck, armpits, rib cage, stomach, hips and the bottom of my feet.
When the pain is severe, it affects my ability to walk, and I end up limping.
Sometimes it gets in the way of falling asleep, and makes getting up in the morning much harder.
My social life has been impacted the most. It’s very difficult for people to understand chronic pain unless they’ve experienced it themselves. When they question it, you begin to question yourself.
The pain really impacted my emotional and mental health. It made me angry, stressed and upset, without me even realising it.
After consulting a few GPs, I found someone who wanted to address the quality of life issues, not just the pain.
The GP organised a care plan, which allowed me to access a suitably qualified psychologist and physiotherapist.
With their help, I learned to address my perception of pain. By changing my perception, the magnitude of pain I felt also changed.
The improvement in how I feel about myself, and what I can do, has been amazing.
I’m now slowly training again in competitive fencing, a sport I had to give up. I’ve also started coaching again.
I’ve kept working despite the pain. My work involves a lot of responsibility, and it’s something I enjoy. But whenever I have a prolonged period of pain or stress, I need to take a few days off to get my body settled again.
I’m now focused on separating myself from others’ stress and anxiety in the workplace, as that can also affect my pain levels.
Pain is a process of understanding and working it out.