I am a working wife and mother of a 1 year old and was recently diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. I don’t define myself as a mother. I don’t define myself as a wife. I also don’t define myself as having a chronic, painful, autoimmune disorder. I am Alissa.
It would be easy to give into my disorder, to let it consume me. I want to sometimes. I get tired, more tired than some can even fathom. I hurt, pretty much all the time. When my baby throws a toy at me, or I hit my arm on the door, or itch my back a little too hard, I want to die. It’s a constant effort to continue to be pre-Fibro Alissa.
After my diagnosis, there was a period of depression while I was forced to acknowledge this new way of life. Even though I had lived with this pain for a year, it was hard to comprehend that there would be no cure. I had hoped that this was just residual c-section complications and eventually I would fully recover and be on my merry way.
I was lucky to have a general practitioner who recognized the symptoms of Fibromyalgia. He ruled out other disorders and referred me to a rheumatologist, who also was very knowledgeable in autoimmune disorders. Research shows that Fibromyalgia can develop after a trauma. Childbirth can be the most traumatic experience the human body can go through, so it makes sense that many women can develop the disorder postpartum.
What’s been hardest for me is asking for help. Expecting my husband to read my mind will disappoint us both. I have to tell him when I’m having a bad day and exactly what I need from him. I need to make sure that I don’t put myself last, which is so easy for a mom to do, otherwise I’m useless to everyone.
Fibromyalgia is an invisible and elusive condition. I’m not sickly or pale, coughing or vomiting, so you would never know I’m afflicted with a debilitating disorder. Only those close to me can tell when I have a bad day. Because the pain is a daily, consistent struggle, I don’t advertise it. This, in my opinion, makes Fibromyalgia a lonely struggle.
I choose to continue to be Alissa, despite how I’ve changed. I will still chase my baby, play on the floor, exercise, work, and enjoy date nights. I will because Fibromyalgia doesn’t define me, I define myself.
Learn more about Fibromyalgia at National Fibromyalgia Association.