Hi my name is Fibrofella and it’s been 12 months since my last post. I never planned to take a year off but I found myself writing mostly about Depression and the grip it had on me and not the fibromyalgia, inflammatory arthritis and physical symptoms I was managing and continue to manage each and every day.
Had I written this post at the beginning of this year, it would have centred on my ongoing battle with depression. To use the most common euphemism; I was in a very dark place. I took myself off to a relatives place in Spain in March to read a few books and write one of my own. Before I went I occasionally contemplated not coming home at all, such was my lack of hope for the future.
Just as quickly as things can snowball in a negative way, they can gain momentum in a positive way. I began first off by getting a handle on the fibromyalgia and inflammatory arthritis I’m living with. I think the correct term for that would be acceptance. A good friend of mine wrote a post about this recently (https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/33595226/763592679 ) and I really related to the fact that I finally stopped denying that this was part of my life but also acknowledged that it wasn’t all of my life.
From there I began to look to the future, not with the fear and dread of how bad things were going to get but with the possibilities and potential that lay before me to make something of myself. I’m in my thirties and my generation will be working until we’re 70 so I’ve got plenty of time to work and make a positive contribution. I began to research college courses and the prospect of re-training for a job that will be less physical than the jobs I’ve had before.
I’ve also had 5 years of living on an extremely restricted budget, with amazing family support it must be said, but I’ve still got my home so money is nice but it’s no longer my primary motivator for a job. Instead I’m going to do something I’m passionate about and will be good at. So I’m going back to school in September to do a history and culture course; new schoolbag, pencil case and all. I want this to be a stepping stone to further study, to a job or even possibly to continue studying and possibly even teach or lecture at some point.
You see one small step into an adult education course and the world began to open up to me. I have options, I’m making plans, I have hope and I have ambition. Just six months ago I had none of these things; I couldn’t see any future worth coming home to Ireland for.
So once I saw the possibility of returning to school becoming a reality I thought about needing a few quid for pocket money. If I’m going to be hanging around with all the kids I’m going to need coffee and beer money, not that I drink but that costs more money than a beer these days!
So I’m on the road of getting a few hours work a week just to dip my toe in the water and earn real cash money again. It’s not much but it’s more than last year and I’m not going to complain. So now I’ve a course coming up, a few quid in my pocket and a future to look forward to. And all this came from taking a look at what courses where available for people on Disability Allowance in Ireland.
All of this comes with two big provisos of course. Is my depression gone? Hell no. Will I have setbacks? Hell yes.
I still have plenty of times where in spite of positivity I get seriously depressed and uptight. Are they the normal ups and downs of life or worse? I’m not sure, I know they are tough periods to deal with but thankfully I can now recognise triggers and warning signs and I’ve learned some self-management techniques to get me through the worst. I’ve said it before that I’m a better person for the lessons I’ve learned these past 5 years so depression and anxiety is just a part of who I am.
Will I be anxious starting college? Of course but crucially everyone else is in the same boat. Am I ever nervous making a speech and leading a course? Never. Put me in a leadership position, leading a course, teaching or supervising and I’m fine. Ask me to make a speech or a presentation on the radio, on TV or to thousands in an auditorium it’s no problem. Ask me to sit in a room with a group of people I went to school or college with, played football with or kind of know? Then we have a problem. What if we run out of things to talk about? What if there’s silence? What if it’s awkward and uncomfortable? What if they don’t like me now? Or I don’t like them?
I know from the growth I’ve made that this is about control and authority in situations and my role within those situations but they still terrify me. Plus when you catch up with old friends that’s exactly what you do, catch up. Married? Seeing any one? Kids? Job? House? Own or rent? Car? Chances of promotion? Career path?
My answers to the above; No, no, no, no, apartment, own, no, no, starting at bottom again.
But who really cares? Nobody really, I’ll walk in on my first day of school and introduce myself. I’ll have to say no more about what I’ve been through in the last few years if I don’t want to and I’ve a clean slate to start with. Who knows who I’ll meet through this course, it could lead to jobs, other courses, relationships, kids the lot or it might lead to none of these. But right this second the not knowing is exciting.
I spent months and years not knowing what was wrong with my body and hated it but now I’ve the same sensation of not knowing but the emotion is one of excitement and positivity. Our minds are so powerful that we can take the same information, process it and have two reactions that are at completely opposite ends of a spectrum.
I’ll have setbacks over the next few months without question. The pain and fatigue are constant companions as we speak so there are going to be days when they get worse and I feel overwhelmed. This would happen for anyone changing from not having too much of a routine to a full-time course. This may be exaggerated for me but it’s just a part of the process and understanding that a setback doesn’t throw me back to the bottom of the mountain is important. I’ll just go through the steps I’ve learnt that get me out of that bad day and go again from the same point on the journey without having slipped backwards.
Going back to the classroom is going to be a challenge but it’s an achievable goal for me at this point and I’m going to make it work. If it doesn’t there are other plans there but I don’t believe I’ll need them.
It was important for me to write this for anyone who has been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and believed that Depression is the end game. It’s not. It may be a point on your journey but when people say there is light at the end of the tunnel I now know exactly what they mean.
If throwing a pebble in a lake was my looking at courses online, then the ripples caused include going back to school, part-time work, reducing isolation, meeting people, improving job prospects, more self-worth and excitement for the future.