Editor’s note: This column is in continuation of “Learning to Accept Fibromyalgia, Part One: Coping and Careers.”
Most people think that suppressing their feelings is the best way to deal with hardship; that somehow crying and expressing intense emotions will make you “weaker” or that you “will cry and never be able to stop.” In actuality, the opposite can occur. Not addressing your feelings only worsens physical symptoms, and also may produce depression. Many may not realize that depression is actually sadness internalized, so not acknowledging profound sadness over time can put you at risk for developing depression (aside from genetic predisposition.)
Naturally, the onset of a confirmed diagnosis of a chronic illness is bound to produce an abundance of different emotions, from relief that all of those strange symptoms actually have a name, to anger that you will have to live with this illness. I had been trying to function as if this illness was a shared part of me, rather than a condition that required my full attention. Plus, I was trying to cope to changes to address stress, flares and triggers. The loss of my beloved dad-in-law, as well as my job, forced me into a position of facing me, myself and fibromyalgia.
As I have done a couple of times in my life when profoundly sad, I took to my bed and relied on sleep and television to distract my mind. I thought about my current life and cried, cried, and cried. I relied on my husband and a couple close friends for a reality check, and support. I wasn’t expecting answers, just support and hugs. I felt alone for no one close to me had the illness; I had read some articles from a national fibromyalgia association, but had not dedicated a lot of time to fully researching the illness as a patient.
Being one who wants to “fix” matters, I felt a bit helpless for a cure did not exist, nor was I in a position of “doing” anything. This was the best situation for me as I had to pay attention to my feelings; for actions, while allowing me to be proactive, would have only delayed the inevitable. In other words, I would have still been able to mask my feelings behind some activity. Given the years of therapy to deal with childhood trauma, as well as being a behavioral science major, I considered myself very analytical and aware of my emotions. I never thought I was ignoring them.
I realized that if I were counseling another in this situation that I would encourage them to allow all the emotion to come to the surface in order to:
1. Get out all the held in energies
2. Recognize all the emotions since the illness affects all aspects of ones’ life. There is bound to be a conundrum of feelings, even some one may not expect, like anger, directed at those who are healthy for they can have a fuller life.
3. Use the “freed” energies to move forward
The basic message is go ahead and cry. Scream, throw things (not at anyone of course), curse, sing, write, draw, paint or whatever allows you to express your emotions. To deprive yourself of this important step will keep you struggling emotionally, and more than likely taking out your frustrations on yourself.
Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.