Anyone who has experienced fibromyalgia will know what an unpleasant condition it is. Part of the problem with it is that it is difficult to pinpoint the cause, and some people have had the experience of going to the doctor and been made to feel that it is all in your head. I know from experience that it is a very real physical condition, and if you have a doctor with this kind of attitude, seriously consider getting a new doctor.
So what is it?
Fibromyalgia is defined as a disorder that is characterised by widespread muscle pain, stiffness of joints and fatigue.
What causes it?
There are lots of theories out there: in the past it was thought of as a psychological disorder. As already stated, anyone who has experienced it will know that it is real. It is now theorised that it might be caused by a combination of factors, as there is a wide range of experience regarding onset of the condition reported by people with this condition.
I can only talk of my experience: some may be able to relate to it, others may not. In my case, fibromyalgia developed after several years of doing what I now realise was a very stressful job, which resulted in me going off sick with a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
I now have a greater understanding of how stress can affect our normal functioning and in the long term can have serious affects on our health and wellbeing. I developed a whole host of problems, some of which are not generally recognised by conventional medical approaches. I went to see a Doctor called Dr John Briffa, who has degrees in immunology and nutritional medicine. He identified a condition called gut dysbioisis, and also candida. Please note: I’m not suggesting that everyone who has fibromyalgia has these conditions. The point I want to get across is that there may be a number of things going on in the body that contributes to the symptoms that you are experiencing.
Conventional medicine tends to look for specific causes of illness, and if a specific cause cannot be found, tends to draw a blank, or suggest that no cause can be found. The implication of this sometimes being that it might be ‘all in the mind’. ME/chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and other conditions have been viewed by some members of the medical profession in this way. However, just because a cause cannot be found doesn’t mean that it is not a real condition!
As I read up about these conditions, I was amazed that they seemed to explain the symptoms I was experiencing. To explain what I discovered would be the subject of a book, or two.
In summary, I was able to make dietary changes and follow a regime that resulted in some improvements to some of my symptoms. However, the fibromyalgia remained.
Stress, Health and Illness
Anyone who has experienced an illness knows that any stress exacerbates the condition. There is much research that demonstrates that stress can slow down the recovery from illness.
However, it is very easy to underestimate how important stress is in the development and maintenance of an illness. In his book ‘Why Zebras Don’t get Ulcers’ Stanford University Professor Robert Zapolsky explains that stress affects us all to varying degrees. He explains that every time we feel upset, annoyed, anxious, we activate the stress response, or fight or flight mechanism, and that these activations cumulatively can cause us health problems.
If you consider that there are 86,400 seconds in a day, then think about how many thoughts, feelings, reactions we are having each day that are not helpful, then you start to get an insight into how we are affecting our physiology on a moment by moment basis. As I said earlier, this is based on my experience, and so this may strike a chord with some people, and may be a factor, other people may feel that this is not so relevant to them.
It is my belief that I was only able to start to make real improvements in my health when I really developed an understanding of:
1. Understanding stress
2. How stress affects our health and wellbeing
3. How to spot when we are activating the stress response
4. How to switch off the stress response so that the immune system can start to function properly
I gained this insight by doing a training called the Lightning Process, and I now train people so that they can develop the same understanding of how to influence their health and well-being.
This information should not be taken to constitute professional advice or a formal recommendation, and is not intended to replace the advice and treatment of a physician. Any use of the information set forth is entirely at the reader’s discretion.
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SIMON PIMENTA is a hypnotherapist, coach and trainer, who specialises in helping people resolve stress, fatigue and other limitations and offers solutions for people who are:
- Experiencing fatigue and other conditions
- Approaching burnout
- Are already on long term sick leave
Simon works Monday afternoons and evening at The Little Escape, contact us to book your free 15minute consultation 🙂