I found an article that was written in 2014 by a woman named A. Wise. She talked about there being six stages of fibromyalgia. I read through them and was a bit stunned when I reached the sixth and final stage she described. Let me do my best, to sum up, Ms. Wise’s six stages;
- You notice something is wrong. You hurt and are tired. You may begin to research to find out what is wrong with you.
- You are in a lot of pain and are taking some sort of medication for it. You are exhausted every day.
- You are in constant pain and always fatigued. You go to work, come home and sleep.
- Unrelenting pain and fatigue. You call into work more than you are physically there. You spend most of your days in bed. At this time people beginning to doubt your illness because you could do things in stages 1 – 3 that you can no longer do.
- You have just quit or have been let go from your job, you are struggling to make ends meet. You are applying for long-term disability.
- You can no longer hold down any kind of job. Simple tasks you took for granted now drain all of your precious energy. Now you are not only dealing with pain, fatigue, and medications but the side effects as well. You probably now know more about fibromyalgia than your doctor. You find you are without hope.
This is a pretty abbreviated version of the six steps, but I’ve summarized the points that Ms. Wise laid out in her article. Stage number six pretty much ends with you being in constant pain and without hope. I absolutely disagree. There has to be a seventh stage because I am not being left in stage six with no hope!
So stage seven for fibromyalgia sufferers would be acceptance. Acceptance doesn’t mean giving up. It means facing your illness with a new perspective. You find peace with that acceptance. Anger, fear, hopelessness all but disappear. You stop feeling like you are a worthless human being and you find some purpose in your life.
Let me be clear, finding acceptance in your life doesn’t mean getting back into the 9-5 daily grind! It does not suggest keeping your house spotless, cooking meals every day, and running errands on top of it all. That part of you is gone. GONE. Fibromyalgia took that away. You are seeking your purpose.
The purpose you must find is a balance between welcoming the new you and the desire to keep learning about your illness. You must become your own encyclopedia. You must see new things in life that are interesting to you and can be done with your limitations. Find a balance. That balance creates peace and leads you to your unique purpose in life.
Finally, these stages Ms. Wise talks about are very real! People with fibromyalgia move through these painful stages. I just refuse to stop at stage six. I have moved into stage seven; acceptance. I did not want fibromyalgia, I did not invite it into my life, but it is now mine, and it is here to stay. Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition. I will accept it, make peace with myself, and I will find purpose.
Live your best life!