Rough Week

May 4, 2008

The weather changed, and that changed everything. It got cold, and my body started its rebellion. My frustration level rose to new heights, and a few days ago, I struggled mightily with getting up, moving around, and getting my ass out the door to go to work. Seriously, I didn’t think I could do it. I woke up with pain shooting around my body like a pinball, and my exhaustion was enormous. I tried stretching and adjusting my thoughts, because I wanted to keep the focus away from the pain and onto the the fact that it was a new day, and that I needed to get to work. I ended up going back to sleep twice, partly because I was physically wiped out, and partly because I wanted to just wipe the morning slate clean and try again, to see if I could wake up in a more functional way. By the third attempt, I decided that no matter what, I was going to get to work. I finally did– at about 2:00 pm.

This does horrendous things to my thought process. The inner dialog I have is sometimes downright mean. “You’re NUTS!” “You’re weak!” “Think of all the people who are so much more disabled than you. Think of all the people who have so much more on their plates– they all manage to make it into work.” No matter how harsh and judgmental others can be, it’s nothing compared to what I do to myself.

I finally made it in, and as I sat at my desk, I realized that the pain was just not going to go away. I tried to tackle my work while sitting, but my hips, butt and legs felt as though they were on fire. I tried standing up to do it, but my lower back and legs wouldn’t hear of it. I had just driven almost an hour to work, and within thirty minutes of arriving, I knew I’d have to leave. Tears of frustration started welling up, and finally, I went to tell my supervisor that I was going home. I wanted to hide, because I knew if anyone spoke to me, I was going to lose it. Of course, a couple of them did, and I just started crying like a big baby. So we can add “extreme embarrassment” to the mix here. I melted down.

I wanted to be in my own bed, in my own home. I drove to Dayton, and drove back to Columbus the next day.

It seems that my body is calling all the shots these days, telling me what it will and will not tolerate at any given time. I don’t have the fight, the energy or the strength of character to resist it. My brain is unwillingly following my body’s commands, and I hate it.

Many people have Fibromyalgia, and they work 9-5 jobs. Many people do what has to be done, regardless of what their bodies are feeling like. I’m a wimp, and I’m angry at myself for not being stronger. At the same time, I want to protect that little tiny part of me that is hurting, that feels vulnerable, that longs to do whatever it takes to feel like me again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There’s one thing I know that’s linked with all of this, but I can’t quite figure out how. If I could get a handle on it, I may be able to figure out how to regain some control over my mind and body. At the risk of sounding like a total fruitcake (like that’s ever bothered me before), I want to say that on some level, I’m extremely intuitive. I’m empathetic, and hyper sensitive to whatever mood is in the room at almost any given time. When I’m around people with bad energy, I can almost touch it. It blows me around like a gale force wind. I’ve been this way since I was a little girl.

Fibromyalgia makes people talk. There is gossip and speculation, and that whole, “She doesn’t look sick” thing. I try to ignore it, and steel myself against it. I try to put on my invisible force field, but it’s very worn, and has holes in it.

It’s not my imagination, or at least I don’t believe it is. Before 9/11, I was overcome with depression and feelings of dread like I’d never experienced before. Sometimes, I can just walk by a person and almost get knocked down by something that they’re exuding. The term, “I feel your pain,” has a literal connotation for me. I just feel things in a really strong way.

When I was having my little meltdown, and waiting to talk to my supervisor, I was standing near the cubicle of a woman I will call Mary Jane, a bitter middle-aged woman who wears matching sweater sets and walks around with a hateful look on her face. She complains constantly, and is tremendously concerned about who’s doing what in the office. Although she apparently feels that she’s being given more work than anyone else, the reality is that her workload is about the same as everyone else’s.

She shoots me daggers all the time, and her bitterness makes me feel extremely sad. Everyone is in the same boat here, but we paddle in different ways– we’re all losing our jobs, everyone’s working to tie up loose ends before the contract expires. There’s a sense of sadness and relief and impending instability. People are making the most of it.

Mary Jane however, is angry. Furious. And a lot of her fury is directed at me. She’s like the kid you grew up with who was obsessed with the fact that the other kid got more marbles, or was always chosen first for kickball. “It’s not fair,” you can almost hear her whine.

When I came back to work, she greeted me and asked me how it was that I had returned. “Actually,” I told her, “I think that they were just being extremely kind to me.”

This apparently pissed her off to no end.

So during my meltdown, standing near her desk, Mary Jane asked, “Are you okay?” I was hoping no one would talk to me, and that I could leave without a big to do. I wished that I had the power of invisibility. I told her no, but that I’d be okay, I was just hurting. Standing there, the hostility that was drifting toward me from Mary Jane was making me hurt more. Her words expressed concern, but I was feeling something else.

My supervisor assured me that it was okay for me to leave. She took me by the manager’s desk so that she could assure me that it was okay. I felt like I was being paraded around the room, though that was not the intent. I just wanted to leave, I didn’t want the drama. My supervisor walked outside with me, and I tried to put into words what a hard time I have with being judged and gossiped about. It’s a huge contributor to the flare ups, and it was just bowling me over at that moment.

“Mary Jane is being such a bitch,” I said. “I can’t believe how much she’s changed from when I was here before.”

“Really?” my supervisor said. “I just noticed her expressing concern for you.”

She was right, and I felt terrible for having said anything.

The next day, Mary Jane came by my desk, full of the milk of human kindness. “Are you okay?” she asked again.

“Yes, but Mary Jane, I need to apologize for melting down in front of you. I was just hurting a lot, and I knew if I talked I would start crying, and that’s just what happened. I’m so sorry.” And I meant it.

“Oh no,” she said, “I’m just concerned about you.” She asked me some questions about Fibromyalgia, and said that I looked exhausted. I told her that because of the Fibro, I often don’t get a lot of sleep. “Well, I was just worried about you, and wanted to make sure you were okay.”

Wow. How nice. Apparently, my radar had been all wrong. Beneath that angry exterior was a coworker who cared. I realized that I needed to get my thought process in check– that my intuition could sometimes be faulty.

Within fifteen minutes, my supervisor was at my desk. “Do you have enough work?” she whispered.

“Oh God yes,” I told her, and showed her all of the things I had going on. Believe me, many trees have died to provide me with enough paperwork to keep me busy throughout the day.

“Good,” she said, “because Mary Jane just went to her supervisor and told her that you needed more to do.”

I was shocked. I told her about Mary Jane’s visit to my desk, and of the concern that was oozing from each of her pores; about how guilty I’d felt for misjudging her, and that I’d apologized.

But my intuition had been dead on, and the feelings I was picking up on were correct. A coworker later told me that a couple of weeks ago, Mary Jane had cornered her, grilling her on why I was getting special treatment, and quizzing her on exactly what my medical condition was. She’s crazy-angry, and my presence just adds fuel to her fire, despite the fact that my work has no impact on anything she does.

I’m not kidding– just being around someone like this is extremely hard for me. In my stronger days, I could put up my force field and ignore crazy, negative behavior– in fact, in the past, I’ve held positions where I actually diffused it. Now I’m at a low ebb, and I find that instead of being able to fight it or ignore negative energy, it just sort of gloms onto me and leaves me weaker and hurting more. It drains me of my super powers.

“You know, I hate it when I’m right,” I told my supervisor, referring to my comment the previous day. And I really meant it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I hope some of this makes sense. This is my long-winded way of saying that I think that there’s a connection between this hypersensitivity, empathy and intuition, and my Fibromyalgia, or at least the flares. Are any of you wired in this way?

Note: I realize that I’m dumping here, but my Fibro blog is my official dump station.

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11 Responses to “Rough Week”

  1. Heather Says:

    OH Yes, I know EXACTLY what you mean!!
    I will be sending up prayers for you.
    Moonie, you have to get that Jeffery Thompson CD Delta Sleep System. I have been using it regularly for about 12 days now and there is something to it. The first night I used it, the next day I felt so strange like my mind had been awake all night but somehow my body felt rested. So I kept using it and every night that I use it I wake up and feel just a little bit better. I used it last night, went to bed at 4A and was awakend about 8A, but somehow I was rested enough that I wasn’t sore this morning!!!!
    Send me your snail mail address and I will make a copy and send to you.

    THANKS (((Heather)))– I’m sending that address! I could use some sleep. Thank you for the prayers– I know it’ll all work out, but what a rotten week!

  2. Little Miss Says:

    Oh, Moonbeam, I so wish I lived nearer to you. I would come over with a huge pot of coffee and just sit and empathize with you to no end about this situation. There IS a connection to intuition/empathy/sensitivity and fibro. You just helped me confirm it. I’ve worked with Mary Janes like that and one, who was young and pretty, was the main reason I left my job before the consulting company. It didn’t have anything to do with my fibro at the time because I didn’t know then that I had it. But I have to stay away from negative energy at all costs.

    I too have been very intuitive since I was young and am just like everything you described. For some reason, I think our bodies absorb the energy easier than other people. I guess that’s why I’ve intuitively (LOL) been surrounding myself with happy stuff – colors, pictures, music (on or off), and people (my favorite little three year old) and such. I really wish there was a permanent way you could work from home and sustain a great living. I think it would do wonders for you – I know, in time.

    Next week, I have to start a new assignment which will require me commuting two days a week, so we’ll see how I do with that.

    My heart goes out to you as I truly understand what you are experiencing.

    (((LM))) you are such a sweetheart. I wish we lived closer too. We could figure this stuff out– I just know it. Then we could go shopping. 🙂

    I wish you the best of luck with the commuting job. I’m so glad you’re doing this all on your own terms. I hope I can be just like you when I grow up.

  3. Riayn Says:

    First thing is first, stop dumping on yourself because other people with fibro can work full-time. Stop it now right now!

    Fibro affects different people differently. In some people, fibro is fairly mild causing discomfort and pain yes, but it lets them get on with life. In others, the pain is so bad, that they are bed ridden. Your experience with fibro is unique, it is not like everyone else’s. You can slide up and down the spectrum of fibro from day to day or even hour to hour. Such is the joy of fibro. The pain is never constant. What you can do today, you may not be able to do tomorrow. It likes to keep things interesting.

    A change in weather is hell. Here the weather has changed from nice and sunny to freezing bloody cold and I have gone from being able to take my dogs for a walk every morning to being lucky to be able to walk to the bus stop. I am not a happy person to be around at the moment. I totally empathize with your rant.

    May tomorrow be a better day for the both of us.

    Riayn, I don’t have a lot of time here (borrowed computer), but I wanted to thank you for this. You’re absolutely right, and I carried these words to work with me today. It was a better day for me, and I hope it was for you too.

  4. Mariposa07 Says:

    I can totally relate. I am in the same boat with work. I am not as bad as you sound. I can get up and get to work. There are some days that are really bad and other days that are ok. My Maryjane works right next to me and my Hypersensitivity is on full blast. I am going through a divorce and I have to deal with that and the everyday stress of my co worker. Right now we are in the May Gray to the June gloom and it makes my body hurt all over. I just hope it clears up soon.

    Mariposa, I think things get better soon. I really think that there’s something to this hypersensitivity thing (not just with Mary Janes, but with excessive noise, lights, etc.), and I’m going to work on getting more Zen about the whole thing. I’m so sorry about all of the stress you’re under, and I hope it gets better soon. Warm weather is on the way, and like you, I’m hoping it helps!


  5. I am, and I have always been. Even as a little kid people would comment that I seemed sensitive to how others were feeling. Initially it was just a hard-core desire I had for all things to be fair. I have since learned that such a thing is impossible (and likely against nature’s plan) but I am still able to easily read emotions, motives, and desires.

    I sometimes wonder if this ability to discern stems from the frequency with which a fibrofolk must essentially converse with their self. I often have internal conversation with my self… much you mentioned. Am I just an incredibly wussy woman? Do other people hurt this badly and tough through it? Is it possible it’s in my head? And many other questions and doubts often inspired by doctors and other people who clearly don’t understand the nature of fibromyalgia.

    And as to not being able to work a typical job, I am right there with you. In my office all management-level associates work from 7:30-5:30. It was all I could do to drag myself into work at the crack of dawn and maintain mental clarity and physical dexterity for 9 of the next 10 hours. I toughed it out for 9 months and then one morning, sitting at work, I hit the wall. I teared up and, like you, asked my supervisor for permission to use my intermittent LOA. Following his approval my father (who works for the same company) drove me home and I have not worked a full-day since. I have a work laptop so I can work from home but my brain cannot handle much more than an hour a day before I grow stressed (even with the simplest of tasks).

    I pray you are able to find a job and a routine that enables your body to relax and recover. I am so impressed you tough out as much as you do! Be proud! Your peers (other fibrofolks) recognize what you manage to do is a true accomplishment.

    MLWF, I’ve read all of the wonderful comments you’ve left on my blog, and I thank you so much for them. I’m going to wait until the weekend when my brain’s not so foggy to respond.

    I’d be honored to add you to my blogroll. I’ll do that this weekend too, when I’m not using a borrowed computer!

  6. S Says:

    Remember, others have conditions that don’t show also. Thanks for talking about this because sometimes we are all too hard on ourselves, and maybe just a little bit we deep down believe that we should be functioning o.k. even though we know what our bodies are going through.
    Pain is the body’s way of saying something is wrong, let me rest, please. Wisdom is found through hearing and complying, rather than pushing through and destroying much more.

    Great words of wisdom, S. Thank you very much.

  7. joanharvest Says:

    I don’t have fibromyalgia but I do have pain. I try not to be a baby about it but sometimes I can’t help it. I think everyone reacts to pain differently. I’m usually OK if I’m sitting but even then sometimes my knee hurts so much I could sit there and cry. I wanted to wait until I lost more weight before I got new knees but I made an appointment with my PC to talk about the whole thing. The appointment is on May 27th. I am just fortunate that I don’t have to work and can stay home in a stress free environment.I was also fortunate to get disability first try.

    I really will be glad when this work thing is over for you and you can get back to your daily routine and away from all that negative energy.I’m like you, I’m damn near psychic when it comes to reading people and their attitude.

    Well, again, I hope you feel better.

    Thanks (((Joan))). I’ll be following with interest to see what the knee doctor says. I can’t wait until this job ends sooner. It’s been a learning experience, but I received the lessons within the first three weeks, so I’m ready to stop now!


  8. I have known more than my share of the likes of Mary Jane. Unfortunately, most of them were in congregations that I pastured.

    I just don’t get that type of behavior, Nick, but I just try to stay away. As someone at work said, “When Mary Jane asks how you’re doing, it’s not because she cares about you– it’s because she’s gathering information to use against you.”

  9. thegirlfromtheghetto Says:

    OMG, I swear to you that I work with not one but TWO Mary Jane’s. I feel horrible for you and sick to my own stomach … because I know EXACTLY what you are going through. EXACTLY. There is nothing I can say that will make it all better, except that I share your pain, both figuratively and physically.

    Oh, and this will kick you in the crotch … one of my Mary Jane’s has arthritis, and has been faking worse symptoms since one week after i got my leg braces … and I swear to you she is getting hip replacement surgery next month just to spite me because she is so sick of me taking off for sick days, doctor’s appointments, etc. She freely admits that she is not in a lot of pain but is willing to risk her life just to have a month off of work….

    And, sometimes I see her walk normal when she doens’t realize I’m watching … ARRGGGHHHHH!!!! So sick of evil crazy women …

    Two Mary Janes– holy kamoly! I don’t care if people do crazy stuff. They can feign illnesses, have multiple personalities, drool on their desks, etc. To me, that’s their problem, and while I can sympathize with them (because they have to live with themselves), I do have a problem with meanness, deviousness and pettiness, because it negatively impacts others. That’s why I’m staying away from this chick.

  10. Deanna Says:

    The mental part of fibro will really do you in, won’t it? It is like a double edged sword to NOT look sick, but sometimes I think boy am I glad I don’t look as bad as I feel all the time, but sometimes I wish I did look as bad as I feel sometimes so people would just understand that this disease is REAL…. SO LIFE ALTERINGLY THROW YOU TO YOUR KNEES PAINFULLY REAL!

    You summed that up perfectly, Deanna!

  11. RidwaneD Says:

    i am also suffering from fibromyalgia. And the exact same thing is happening to me these days. The cold makes my body even more tensed than it usually is and the pain is getting unbearable! It is just so difficult

    And Oh my god! This Mary Jane is just mean! But it is just so difficult for them to understand that even if we don’t look that sick, we are. I had doctors and people from my family constantly telling me to stop pretending. No matter how much I was crying, they wouldn’t believe me. My family is strating to understand but a lot of people still think that fibromyalgia is just an excuse to be lazy.

    Anyway, i wish you all the best! And hold on!

    I’m so sorry about your fibro. No one can believe what it’s like unless they’ve been there. I think it helps to just not even worry about how other people react, and to let go of trying to be understood. It just adds to the stress, which adds to the flares.

    I still truly believe that dealing with fibro is a balancing act, and that we can put it into remission.

    Thanks for your comments– I wish you all the best too!

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