I’m not just a survivor of fibromyalgia, I’m a thriver!

Being a survivor of fibromyalgia is not enough for me. I want to be a thriver. I want to thrive in my family life and I want to have fibromyalgia; I don’t want fibromyalgia to have me.

I am not just a survivor of fibromyalgia - I'm a thriver! #fibromyalgia #fibrothriver

Have #fibromyalgia. Don't let fibromyalgia have you. #fibrothriver #fibrofighter Click To Tweet

Here is my story –

My husband and me, 2005 - The last year I lived pain free.
My husband and me, 2005 – The last year I lived pain free.

In the summer of 2005 I started experiencing pain all over my body. It was an achy pain like I would get after exercising except I didn’t have to be exercising to get the pain. I particularly felt it in my lower back. In addition, I was constantly tired, but figured it was from the lack of sleep at night.

At the time, my physician attributed it to my pregnancy and said that I should expect to feel tired and a little pain, and that I would be back to ‘normal’ shortly after the birth of my baby. Since this was first pregnancy, I took her word for it.

My oldest son and me, 2006
My oldest son and me, 2006

After not reaching ‘normal’ several months after my son’s birth in early 2006, I went back to the doctor with the same complaints. At first she said it was due to taking care of a newborn which was partly true. I wasn’t getting any sleep, and my husband was overseas a lot, so I had a lot of stress. This was all understandable given my situation. Then she – rather we – discovered I was pregnant with my second child. “Problem solved!” she triumphantly exclaimed, brushing my complaints eagerly aside stating that “there was nothing wrong, but just another bun in the oven!”

My oldest son, oldest daughter, and me, 2007
My oldest son, oldest daughter, and me, 2007

Once again I accepted the explanation; however, once again one year later, I was still having the same symptoms only a little more aggressive. On top of the body aches and lack of sleep, I was experiencing:

  • little bit of anxiety
  • slight depression
  • drastic mood swings
  • frequent headaches
  • foot pains
  • severe shoulder pains

Since I was done serving in the military and was being discharged, I didn’t have a physician to see, but rather a physician to review all doctor visits I had during the time I served in order to continue care once I was discharged.

In one sentence this complete stranger managed to minimize dismiss my pain by suggesting it was mere motherhood that caused these problems. I was so embarrassed. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t ‘hack it’ as a mom, and was complaining to a doctor about it in hopes that he could help me.

What was wrong with me? Could I not do this mom thing?

That was the exact moment I believed that what I was experiencing was just a product of weakness. That all moms experienced these feelings and pain and that I was just too weak to ‘buck up’ and move onward.

By the winter of 2012 I was out of control. I had had two more children and my pain was unmanageable. When I say ‘out of control’ I don’t mean I was merely experiencing more physical pain. The physical pain was just a minute part of living with back/hip problems.

When I say out of control, I mean in particular that I experienced:

  • frequent episodes of depression
  • heightened anxiety
  • feelings of utter hopelessness
  • dramatic mood swings
  • social isolation
  • feelings of failure as a wife, mother, daughter, and sister
  • anger
  • frequent muscles aches/spasms
  • severe and constant back pain to the severity of locking up when bending over
  • sharp pains in both feet
  • tingling in my feet and hands
  • frequent tension headaches
  • severe menstrual cycles
  • fatigue
  • sleepless nights
  • confusion
  • Spiritual depletion.

It was complete madness living with all these symptoms; and the physical pain just intensified those feelings. The worst part was that it wasn’t just felt by me, it was felt by all members of my immediate family (husband and four kids) as well as my family 500 miles away (my parents, grandmother, and sister).

my kids and me, 2012 I was smiling on the outside and hurting on the inside.
my kids and me, 2012
I was smiling on the outside and hurting on the inside.

No one knew what I was going to do/say next or how I was going to react to what was said/done. To be completely honest, I didn’t know what I was going to do/say/feel from one moment to the next. My families said they walked on egg shells around me during that time. I’m sure that was an understatement.

In the winter of 2012, after I reached what I thought was my breaking point, I contacted my health insurance provider and scheduled an appointment with a new primary care provider. During the first fifteen minutes of my appointment, after a brief summary of symptoms and a quick examination, my physician immediately new what I had – fibromyalgia and chronic pain. This diagnosis cemented me in my new reality of daily pain, and I wasn’t going anywhere any time soon.

I cried. I was seeing my reality for the first time and it saddened me. I would be living with these conditions for the rest of my life and all I could do was ‘manage’ it. Wow. That’s a lot to swallow. It also triggered a downward spiral and caused a depression that lasted for several months.

About reality quote

 

You know how some say that once you reach rock bottom the only way to go is up? Well, that was my rock bottom. I was knocked down by my pain and I was done living with it. I was supposed to be managing the pain, but instead the pain was managing me.

That is the day my fight to thrive began. I don’t say survive because I didn’t want to just ‘survive’. I had too much to live for, and the bare minimum wasn’t going to cut it for me. My new life began. My spoonie life began.

Thriving the fibromyalgia life not just surviving it #fibromyalgia #fibrothriver

 

Here it is some time later, and while I still live with fibromyalgia and chronic pain, I AM thriving in my family life. I still have my bad days, but the good days far outnumber the bad ones.

My family and me, 2014 My outer smiling now matches my inner glow.
My family and me, 2015
My outer smiling now matches my inner glow.

Every aspect of my life involves my conditions and there isn’t one day that goes by that I’m not reminded of it. But that’s okay – I embrace them because they are a part of me and I love me – the good and not so good.

My husband and me showing our Fibro Face for Fibromyalgia Awareness Day! #FibroFace #fibro #fibromyalgia #FibromyalgiaAwareness
my husband and me, 2014 – My husband has been through my illness with me from the beginning. He has supported me through even the darkest hours. I am truly blessed that God brought us together.

My mom also lives with fibromyalgia, and her condition is worse than mine. Read her story here.

I know I am not the only mom living with chronic conditions, and this is how “Being the Imperfect Mom” came about. My mission is to let all moms living with chronic pain to not be ashamed of their condition as I once was, and to show them that they don’t have to just survive their everyday life, but to thrive it! My posts are informative and filled with resources about fibromyalgia, chronic pain, and everything spoonie. **Don’t know what a spoonie is? Click here!

 

Do you have a story of your life with fibromyalgia? Please share with me!

This post has been shared with Sally at Just Me for #May12BlogBomb #May12 and #RespectME !

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Brandi

I'm Brandi, follower of Christ, wife to an amazing, supportive husband, blessed mother to four sweet children, and a fellow spoonie. Facebook-+-Twitter-+-Instagram

21 thoughts on “I’m not just a survivor of fibromyalgia, I’m a thriver!

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  • May 16, 2014 at 11:40 am
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    Wow Brandi - what a powerful story. It is so tragic the damage that dismissal can do - I am glad you finally got recognition and also the help required to thrive once more. And what a lovely family you have... xx Thanks for sharing. Thank you so much for helping raise awareness by participating in the #May12BlogBomb. Over 90 posts resulted, and links to the others can be found here: http://sallyjustme.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/May12BlogBombLinks.html Perhaps we'll try this all again next year! Reply
    • May 16, 2014 at 12:44 pm
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      Thank you for your kind words, and thank you for having me at the Blog Bomb. Yes, let's definitely do it again next year! Reply
  • May 17, 2014 at 2:21 pm
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    What a horrific story but great so see the smiles and the wonderful family you have now. xx Reply
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  • August 28, 2014 at 9:16 am
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    Brandi- thank you for sharing your powerful story of not only enduring such a debilitating disease, but THRIVING through it. I can't imagine how hard that must have been prior to the diagnosis with an infant and your hubs over seas. You are one fiercely strong woman, and I'm guessing your mother is too!! Reply
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  • November 9, 2014 at 10:35 pm
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    I didn't know you started a foundation? That's so awesome! Reply
    • November 10, 2014 at 9:28 am
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      Yes, I did! It was a lot of fun when we were more active with it. We aren't as active with it now because we funded all events, paper materials, etc out of our own pocket, and it was getting a little expense to keep up with it. We hope to start it up again soon. Reply
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  • July 6, 2015 at 1:10 am
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    Thanks Brandi, why is that when we know others are experiencing trials similar to ours that it helps? I mean, it's not like it will alleviate one or the others' suffering, but for some inexplicable reason it makes it better somehow when we know we are not alone. I was thinking my next post would be a 'my story' and this pretty much cemented it. So thankful for 'Fibro Sisters' like you! You are all a blessing to me :) Reply
  • July 9, 2015 at 5:14 am
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    I love how you showed us your journey on pictures and that your outer glow matches your inner glow at last. You are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday linkup. Pinned to our linkup board. Reply
    • July 9, 2015 at 11:31 am
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      Thank you, Tanya! Reply

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