Your Healing Story is unique to you. The meaning you give it is your own. In the spirit of Fibromyalgia Awareness, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty. First comes your definition of how fibromyalgia and/or chronic illness arrived. Did it come on slowly or suddenly? Then comes the meaning.
Understanding the meaning of your healing story is the gateway to finding the answers you seek.
What’s Your Healing Story?
Fibromyalgia Awareness month brings about posts on events and campaigns geared to spread awareness in the community and beyond. This articles series – about Your Healing Story – is more about spreading awareness within.
It’s a theme I share often.
It’s my goal to help you increase awareness of how your illness came about and what you can do about it. Once you’ve arrived at this information, you’ll be better equipped to share awareness of how you’re affected by your health and what, specifically, others can do to help. The goal is to spread awareness at all levels.
This week, we’ll look specifically at the meanings of your healing story.
The last post in this series discussed how to define your healing story. How did your illness start? What are your experiences as you’ve tried to heal?
Read Your Healing Story here to learn more.
Details of Your Healing Story
Did you complete step 1? Did you write down your healing story?
Let’s get into the details and dive in.
Make sure that your story includes as many details as possible. Note the details in any way that works for you – whether a play-by-play (this happened then this happened) or a simple bullet list of circumstances.
Next, its’ time to sift through the details. What do you see? Look for repetitive patterns of flares and circumstances.
These are your Healing Story clues.
My Sample Healing Story Details
Here’s an example from my personal story. (In the interest of brevity this is just the bare bones.)
I had symptoms of fibromyalgia in my teens even though I didn’t know it then. These symptoms arrived after a significant motor vehicle accident and then I was given THREE vaccinations for the swine flu in a short amount of time. Mainly, I had difficulty with pain, fatigue, balance, and blurred vision. I’d always had digestive problems, so I didn’t see any connection back then.
Over time, symptoms subsided as I focused on other things and got on with life.
A couple decades later, I injured my back at church and my symptoms returned with a vengeance. For the following 15 years, they ebbed and flowed from awful to more awful depending on a variety of factors.
That was my story.
What’s missing here are the important details about WHEN (exactly) my flares occurred during the 15 years in question.
When I documented my own healing story details, I ended up with a three-page spreadsheet. Seeing everything as a whole, I discovered interesting patterns. I noticed my symptoms increased after trips to the doctor or dentist. I could see a correlation between doses of antibiotics or dental work. I saw this in my pain and fatigue levels as well as digestive problems.
The same was true after travels. I noticed symptom flares after vacations and mission trips (especially ones out of the country). I noticed flares after significant family get-togethers – both fun events and ones that were not-so-fun. My flares increased after eating in restaurants and after eating certain foods at home. Eventually, eating just about anything caused digestive upset.
Flares also arrived during and after times of significant emotional struggle.
What Does Your Healing Story Mean?
So, how did I interpret this fifteen years ago?
I took this information to mean that my body was broken and failing me. I was malfunctioning. When my pain levels worsened, I viewed it as what was yet to come – things getting worse.
I often said things such as, “I can’t handle stress,” or, “I don’t react well to medications and to certain foods.” I felt let down and completely bound by what my body could or couldn’t do. My physical limitations were the focus and guiding light of my life. I couldn’t see any other possibility.
These were the meanings I extracted from my healing story at that time. The main theme back then was one of hopelessness. There were no answers from my doctors; where could I go for help? Little did I know, this understanding was the gateway for my healing story to come.
Extracting meanings and beliefs is a vital step.
Now, it’s your turn.
Here are a few words my intended definition of “meaning.” You won’t find this in the dictionary, so I shared this in a post on Facebook this morning.
Everything we experience is interpreted by our own “meaning making machines.” It stands to reason that we each make different meanings out of our experiences. These meanings and attachments – to a large degree – determine how we perceive the world around us. How do you perceive what’s going on in your life right now?
What meanings can you glean from the details of your healing story? What do you believe to be true? There’s more to come, so stay tuned.
Share your comments below and help to build awareness in this fibromyalgia and chronic illness community!