Pushing Against My Seasons of Stress

Pushing Against My Seasons of Stress
I've always known that my fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms worsen whenever my stress level increases. However, rather than seek out and remove the cause of the stress, typically, my doctors and I have treated my symptoms: pain, insomnia, cognitive symptoms, fatigue, and irritable bowel syndrome. I once worked a job I disliked. Although I suspected my stress was largely related to the job, I continued to work there for one reason: The company paid tuition benefits for its employees. I was on a quest to continue my education to qualify for a different line of work — one I knew I'd enjoy. Near the completion of my master's degree in health services management, my husband suddenly died. At age 46, I suddenly realized I had no one to support me but me. Widowhood and that realization were the most stress-inducing events of my life. From that point on, my job took on a new meaning. Without it, homelessness and hunger lurked around the corner. Rather than complete the costly degree my employer no longer subsidized, I put my nose to the grindstone. Although I excelled at what I did, which earned me promotions and pay increases, all I felt was stress. I had to drag myself to work each day. Only the fellowship of my friends and coworkers enabled that effort. As the months and years went by, all of my physical symptoms gradually increased. After three hospitalizations, I could no longer ignore the cause of my stress. My only choice was disability. I actually felt my body relaxing as I settled into my new life. Health improvement became my new focus. I swam regularly. I read everything about fibromyalgia I could find. I attended several schools of yoga before finding one that was doable and therapeutic for me. I meditated regularly. I saw a nutritionist and changed
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