Since so many women in my practice are affected by fibromyalgia, I’m going to blog about it today with a tribute to the energetic dynamic behind this disease… because shoulder tension is something that is personal for me.
What can you do energetically to release fibromyalgia flares? Read on:
I carry all of my tension in my neck and shoulders.
Painful trigger points, tension headaches, tenderness in my upper back and neck so strong that at times I can’t even wear a bathing suit or a sports bra or a ponytail, or anything pulling on my neck at all… even a necklace is too much, has me on my knees begging for mercy.
I fit the definition for fibromyalgia, but one thing I don’t want is a label.
I prefer just to think of it as where I carry my tension.
As my own personal barometer of stress. An alarm that signals when I need to slow-it-dowwwwnnnnn.
I really feel that people with fibromyalgia, as with many other diseases including peripheral neuropathies, restless leg syndrome and RSD (reflex sympathetic dystrophy), are able to feel sensory input more acutely. That’s why nerve stabilizing drugs help, by desensitizing and diminishing the nerve’s sensory capability.
But I don’t think it means that folks with fibromyalgia necessarily have more stress… just that they are more sensitive to perceiving it.
I think of it like this: My husband can eat super spicy salsa and say it is “flavorful” and tastes good, while one tiny dab of it on my tongue has my lips burning off, my eyes tearing up, and my throat burning.
It ruins my whole meal.
But who is right — is the salsa spicy, or is it not spicy?
The salsa just is.
It is our perception that makes it spicy or not spicy.
To my husband, it’s not spicy at all. To me, it is unbearable.
So when my back starts flaring… do I have more tension in my shoulders then someone who doesn’t feel any back pain?
What matters is, that I can *perceive* my shoulder tension acutely and it is telling me something.
Seen in this light, isn’t this sensitivity a gift? A blessing?
That I can sense, earlier then others, when my body is stressing out?
Yes, I believe it is.
Because I know *right away* when I need to take care of myself… I don’t bottle it up and ignore it and wait for it to manifest in a more serious disease before I will take notice.
I know moment by moment, just by assessing the tenderness in the muscles of the back of my neck, how I am doing with my attitude.
“We make life a burden by our attitude.” – Louise Hay
This is so true with me and a lot of folks with hypersensitivity issues, like fibromyalgia.
My shoulders are my own personal indicator of how much strain I am feeling.
And the strain I am feeling is created by my attitude.
Thoughts start to creep in, when my trigger points start to flare… thoughts like “I’m the one who does all the chores, all the cooking, all the cleaning, I don’t get enough time to myself, I haven’t even brushed my teeth today, all I’ve done is care for everyone else, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
My shoulders are screaming out “WHAT ABOUT ME?!?!?” and it’s like a slap across the face.
Wake up! What am I doing?!?
What attitude am I approaching my life with?
Chores are my privilege for sharing my home with the three most amazing souls I have ever met.
And if I don’t want to do something, then I shouldn’t.
You don’t have to do things… you don’t even *have* to breathe.
Breathing, living, being… they are all a gift.
The moment you realize you don’t *have* to do anything is the moment you will start genuinely wanting to do all the things you were resisting.
The fact is, I am lucky to be alive… we all are. And the very moment that I stop feeling that way, my shoulders remind me.
The path out from under fibromyalgia pain is simple:
1. First, re-align with what you *know* to be true: We are blessed beyond belief.
2. Stop doing whatever feels like a struggle and wait. I wait until I *want* to do something before I do it, instead of doing things I don’t want to do and blaming everyone else.
3. Re-focus on your bliss… on what makes you happy.
When I have trigger points, what makes me happy is usually:
- extra fish oil
- tryptophan or melatonin so I’m sure to get an excellent night’s sleep
- yoga, neck stretches
And sure enough, as I focus on my bliss, my relief, my joy… I find 101 other things to be thankful for.
Life is neither a burden nor a blessing… it’s our attitude that makes it so.
Or… salsa is neither spicy nor mild… it’s our perception of it that makes it so.
When you are in pain, especially chronic pain, sometimes it feels like you are standing just outside of the party.
Life carries on around you and you are standing by the door, not sure if you should enter or not.
The music and light and joy and laughter of life is just beyond, just like in the picture of this healing collage I created.
Sometimes, it feels like the door to the party is locked and I can’t get in.
It’s all I can do to sort of lean against the wall and catch my breath.
In those moments, I stop the struggle.
I stand there for a moment in time, an eternity, a blink, it doesn’t matter… I close my eyes and I listen to the music through the door.
It is okay if listening to the music is the only thing you can access… even if your muscle fatigue and pain locks you into a dark room.
Closing my eyes… I can still hear the music.
Neither resisting the muscle pain nor focusing on it, I am okay. I am content.
I am thankful for my messenger… my pain. Telling me to stop for now.
I am okay, I’ve done enough. It’s saying thank you to me… it’s telling me I’ve done enough and I can pause now.
I have the ability to allow *all* my experiences to be joyful and satisfying, even if all I can do is survive the moment.
Even if all you can do is lay there and listen. You don’t have to fight it. It is enough to just BE.
And soon enough, my mind has wandered.
Off of my shoulder discomfort and on to other things.
The curious and the optimistic in me has re-awoken.
The music of life has my toes tapping.
I don’t *have* to stand back up and face the music, the chores, the life that is waiting for me… I *want* to.
I’ve reached for the doorknob and opened the door and I am stepping back into the party.
And I remember… this is why I’ve come!
This is the ride I’m on, the life I’m in… and I’m committed to it.
I’m not holding back, judging it, wishing for something else… I’m allowing the experience of it to be okay just the way it is.
So is fibromyalgia a blessing or a disease? Ultimately it’s up to each of us to decide.
If used as an early indicator to release struggle and re-center, I believe fibromyalgia can be one of the biggest blessings you can have.