On a Fibromyalgia social network website I belong to My Fibro Team, almost daily someone seems to contribute their answer to the question “Do you miss who you were before Fibromyalgia?” An awful lot of people come back with an unequivocal yes, but for me, the answer is not that simple. I am going to consider the question from two perspectives, physically and mentally.
Physically I miss my life before FibromyalgiaBefore I had Fibro or became a Spoonie or however else you want to address it, I had a full lifestyle. I worked full time in a job I loved, helping people currently out of work to move back into the workplace. Although I wasn’t using my teaching qualification in a school I was still using the essence of what the role meant – I was training people. I hope to some small degree with some of the posts I write I may still be doing a little bit of this now. On top of my career, I had a full range of experiences in which I was involved. I sang in my Church choir twice a day on a Sunday as well as a mid-week practice, at times like Christmas and Easter this became a much busier schedule and was quite a commitment. It gave me some real purpose in my life, and I would not have changed it. On top of this, I took part in stage productions and even for a while revisited my childhood experience of taking tap dancing classes. These were just the activities outside of the house. At home, I was busy being a webmaster for a thriving genealogical website as well as spending time researching my family history. I made greetings cards and dabbled in other craft activities. (Thankfully I can still work on my research and carry on crafting even though it is at a slower pace.) I was busy, and I loved it!
How has Fibro changed me mentally?At the most simplistic level I guess we could consider the Fibro Fog, if you want to read more about Fibro Fog I suggest you look at my post The Reality of Living with Fibro Fog. I very much miss not having to cope with this symptom, my memory used to be very reliable and certainly above average in its ability. Except annoyingly when I had to sit exams that relied upon it. I think the best way to describe it was that I kept lots of generalised theories in there but only minute details of things that interested me. Like it or not when going through the school system not many pupils have a genuine interest in nine or more subjects. Probably one of the reasons I took to and enjoyed University Education far more than I did the one I received at school.
My EducationAlthough I am going off the Fibro topic, I hope you will forgive me as this is the perfect place for me to add this thought. When I was at school, I worked hard, but I didn’t excel. I know I didn’t reach my potential. I am well aware that teaching is very different now, even when I was classroom-based several years ago now, education methods had come on in leaps and bounds. However, the standard style of education doesn’t always fit the prefered learning style of all the pupils, and it is easy to feel that you are just not that bright. This belief was something I battled with, not out of any sense of vanity or wanting to compete with others I just felt I had more to give. For me, this culminated in setting a Mensa test which told me I (had) an IQ of 140. This new information propelled me to do what was required to return to education as an adult. I started with doing two foundation courses through the Open University in Arts and then technology before going on to complete a full-time degree course at Leeds University. I genuinely believe having had the time away from study and the experience of the workplace I was able to embrace the opportunities presented to me at University to a far more profound level than if I had gone straight from school. So I guess what I am saying to you is even if your school wasn’t a place you enjoyed learning never give up on the possibility of growing and achieving. It may just be you haven’t had the opportunity to learn in the best way for your brain! If you are in the UK and this has got you thinking, check out the information for mature students from the Government.
Fibromyalgia has educated meIt is now time to consider the deep roots of the question “Do I miss who I was before Fibromyalgia?” considering not the lifestyle I lived but the person I was. Unless you are a complete narcissist, it is not unusual to do a bit of self-reflection here and there, and I have done far more than a bit for most of my adult life. Now, looking back I am painfully aware that before I started living with Fibromyalgia and saw the reality of how it changed my life I don’t think I was indeed disability aware. I hope to goodness, and I am pretty sure that I have never actually harmed or offended anyone who was living with a disability but in my head, I didn’t completely understand. I guess I’m saying I was mildly sympathetic but probably not empathetic. As I explained in my post: I’m not Disabled I’m Chronically Ill I still stand behind that viewpoint. I can do everything I could before I had Fibro I have not lost any abilities they have merely become reduced and unstable in their behaviour. I can still walk but the distance can’t compare, and even day to day the distance varies – you get the idea. However, since I have been a Spoonie, I think I have developed empathy. I no longer just admire those that have won the race but champion all those who battled through heaven and earth just to be in the running!
So do I miss who I was before Fibromyalgia?No, I don’t! I miss some of the things I was able to do before, but I am grateful I live in a world with an internet that is getting better and better which enables me to maintain my friendships even if it in a virtual manner. I miss my memory being reliable but I have several things in place to help jog it I am thankful that I have excellent digital skills and fantastic gadgetry to help me live my life. I have discovered a whole world of people who are almost forgotten by the mobile society, people who, like me at times, are beating themselves up for not being able to participate in that world. People who still have skills and passions and big hearts who merely operate at a different pace. I hope to grow these new friendships over time. My biggest regret at this moment in time is that I am not financially contributing and in the first world that is almost a given. I am confident given time my online activity will allow me to (that is why I tend to include a where to buy section if you shop using the link I may receive a small payment especially if it is the first time you’ve shopped there), and that will help me feel whole again. But in all other considerations, I believe Fibro has been a gift rather than a curse and has made me a better human being.
Do drop a comment down below if there is something you would like to question, or maybe if you just found it an interesting read. It is nice to know you are not talking to yourself…