Your walking down the street when you exclaim…”wait where are my sunglasses”…your friend replies “on your face”…you both proceed to laugh hysterically.
You walk into a cafe and see a good friend that you went hiking with last week. You say hello and begin to catch up with whats happened since. You realize halfway through your conversation that you can’t remember their name. Hours later, long after the café has closed their name comes to you and suddenly you exclaim with elation “Mary!”
You’re in a meeting to assign some new work to the team when you interject “oh I think that, that, that the intern can do that”. Your coworker’s chuckle…”You mean Rob” they say simultaneously. “Yes of course” you reply giggling to yourself. Rob’s been an intern for 8 months…you see him every work day…nobody calls him “the intern”.
Your significant other asks “want to watch a show?” you say “Sure, lets watch, ummmm, that show where the girl was left in Time Square in a duffle bag” Your significant other replies “You mean Blindspot”…
These are the little pieces of hilarity that make up my daily existence. For those who suffer from fibromyalgia this might sound like a familiar symptom of Fibro Fog. Fibro Fog, like brain fog, is characterized by having difficulty concentrating, finding words, holding conversations, feeling alert and remembering things. In my case I happen to have trouble with nouns...names of people, places and items. It’s part of a range of symptoms that manifest as a result of a condition called Fibromyalgia.
So I know everybody has these “brain farts” especially when we’re tired, decaffeinated, overworked, or stressed out. However, they can be embarrassing when they happen on a daily and weekly basis despite getting good sleep and not being super stressed. That’s the key difference between fibro fog and regular brain fog. With fibro, even if you’re receiving treatment and are getting good sleep this symptom may not go away. It’s just one of those cracks in your dam that makes your life both a little more hysterical and frustrating.
So what are you to do? My main strategy is to stay funny…and laugh when instances of memory loss happen. To shake it off and acknowledge that this is a result of a condition I navigate every day and its okay. While there are lots of other strategies out there like getting sleep, practicing meditation, using notes and lists to remind you. I find it’s difficult to keep a cheat sheet of my friend’s names in my pocket at all times without being conspicuous. I mean…really?? Can’t remember your best friends name…or that your sunglasses are on your face…now that’s ironic and just plain funny. So if you’re struggling with memory, next time an instance like this happens, let yourself chuckle, be honest with what you’re navigating and shake it off.
Remember life is a journey….and the more laughter on that journey…the better.
Okay that title was my ridiculous attempt at bringing humor into a subject that many people probably don't find so humorous. But for me humor is part of healing. It helps keep an atmosphere of positivity in a situation that can be anything but positive. Its an important mechanism for staying constructive in the face of misfortune. It allows us to laugh at ourselves, recognize our own limitations and take strides to find balance again.
Finding balance can be difficult when you suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. Especially when its paramount characteristic is an unrelenting exhaustion that doesn’t go away with rest. Every cell in your body just wills you to stop.
I’m guessing many of us have been there at some point in our lives. Been so fatigued that we just wanted to cry or collapse and not move for hours. If you haven't been there you are lucky and I hope that you never experience this feeling.
Now imagine feeling that way every day or at least every day for weeks on end. That is what its like to suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome. A condition that often manifests in tandem with fibromyalia. Now like every illness or condition it goes in waves some days the exhaustion is heavier than others. That is why I find it so important to laugh at myself when I am feeling deeply exhausted. To laugh and recognize that its my bodies way of saying: “I ain’t got time for any of that BS”.
No time for stress, No time for hate, No time for anger, No time for resentment, No time to take for granted, No time to waste,
I’m guessing you get the idea. Basically what suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has taught me is that I need to channel that person that doesn’t seem to get riled up by anything and is so chill you question whether they are human.
(I mean really how are they so relaxed all the time…do they secretly explode when no one is around???).
But I digress. In any case my body has become its own B.S. meter reminding me to let go of all of the responses and feelings that suck up very valuable energy. It reminds me I have no time to get in my own way. It empowers me to say “NO” to all of the crap and cultivate a life that is more fulfilling and for this I am grateful.
Now this doesn’t mean I’ve begun frolicking about, overjoyed by the freedom of letting go of all the B.S. in my life, because remember I originally got that reminder because I was exhausted to the point of not wanting to move. Instead when I start to feel those energy suckers creep their way in, I remember to re-prioritize and make my way towards balance. It is a lesson that many of us struggle to fully practice and embody in our lives. I for one am grateful to have found that lesson. Now I just need to learn to embody it…hmm maybe that's a slice of the secret to being that relaxed easy going person…now I just have to perfect it.
Remember life is a journey...
I’m sure most of us have heard the saying “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. Its one of those universal feel good sayings we pull out of our quivers when we are confronted with comforting someone who is suffering. Its ultimately a consolation that “life sucks” but an encouragement to try to make the best of it. Hopefully many of us will never know what it means to have to make this figurative lemonade. We may face challenges that we must overcome but they are challenges that ultimately have a resolution.
But what if you are faced with a challenge that has no resolution? A challenge whose effects can only be mitigated but not eliminated? Is this the type of situation where making lemonade becomes more then just a figurative phrase? For me, this has been the case. Receiving a diagnosis of a fibromyalgia was both a relief and a curse. I was blessed with finally knowing that my experience was real and that it was not normal. However, unlike the challenges I had faced before in my life, this one has no resolution. There are ways to mitigate its impact but it will never go away.
The weight of this revelation nearly crushed me when the relief of having a diagnosis finally faded. I was not going to get better, not at least until modern medicine found a cure. And I’m not holding my breath for that. If I did, I would likely faint endlessly.
Instead I am working to harness the courage to learn to embody the lessons that are so often shared but never fully internalized. I’ve been coached throughout life, like many others have I’m sure, that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, that I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, that the grass is always greener on the other side, that there is no time like the present, that when life gives you lemons make lemonade, that patience is a virtue, that I shouldn’t judge someone until I’ve walked a mile in there shoes, that honesty is the best policy, and so many more.
These proverbs are so often mentioned in off the cuff ways with relative frequency that their original intentions get lost in the humor and commonality of their use. But the funny thing about life with fibromyalgia is it gives you a jolting, eye opening, smack you in the face type of perspective. I’m sure there are other situations that have this benefit too.
So what do you do when you’re smacked in the face unexpectedly. Well, if you’re me you would stare dumbfounded straight ahead letting the tingling sensation in your cheek slowly ebb away. After the sting of the initial smack had dissipated you might let out a lot of swears…it would be an endless cacophony of…F***, S****, D***…you get the idea.
Then it might dawn on you how much time and energy is wasted on negativity. That the hatred or anger that you harbor against pieces of yourself or others usurps precious energy you don’t have. Its ironic when negativity becomes a luxury. You realize how much of your life you spent feeding it and in that moment you may begin to let it go.
I internalized all of this after my “smack in the face” from fibro. I found that the grass isn’t greener on the other side…its just my current viewpoint that makes it appear that way. That there really is no time like the present, because tomorrow you may be so sick you can’t move. These are the reasons why I am thankful for my curse as much as I am hindered by it. It is why I work hard to smile when I’m slapped and laugh at the ridiculousness of wasting time on negativity. I hope that by sharing this you may find the courage like I have to let go and begin to set yourself free…you may not always succeed but remember…
Its about the journey…
Hi, I'm Liz. I like to write about life and the wisdom I cull from it. I use words and images to inspire empathy and connection with each other and the world.