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.

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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.

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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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