May 21st, 2020
Healing from Fibromyalgia
Most of the blogs I see about fibromyalgia are all about how you live with the disease. Yeah, that's not me. I'm the type to pick at the bandaid. To chafe to be free of it. A friend of mine had a husband who was prescribed the same pain medicine prescribed for me; one of the side effects was growing tumors, which kept me from taking it. I always seemed to have problems with side effects and was too scared to try it. He took it, and developed a tumor at the site of the injury he was taking the pain medication for. He died of that tumor after it metastasized to his brain. I couldn't take NSAIDs for pain relief either so I was in a lot of pain over the years, which made me highly motivated to solve the problem.
I noticed some interesting things about that pain because I was forced to live with it:
What made the pain better?
Check out my YouTube channel for videos on how to do some simplified acupressure for emotional release. The most helpful type for me was and still is PanHarmonic Healing (PHH.) If you find it helpful and want to learn more, I teach PHH.
Believe in yourself. You have the ability to heal. The biggest thing you can do is be as kind to yourself every day as you can. We all have trauma; life can be hard. Your childhood trauma is active until you integrate it. You can do it, bit by bit. Self love and self kindness is key.
Here's a video clip of me and my dog Casey demonstrating Pigeon pose. In panic attacks, I've found that the psoas gets overactive. I've found relief from doing yoga. Poses like Pigeon pose help stretch the psoas so we can get on with our day.
Walking meditation is also helpful during a panic attack. I know it's hard to get out of the house, but fresh air is good for us, and it's also good to use our peripheral vision --most of us overuse our focal (reading) vision with all the electronic devices we own.
Be sure to use soft focus while walking and looking at your feet. Soft focus helps activate peripheral vision, as does noticing what is happening in your peripheral vision.
Another big help is to fit in some high intensity aerobic exercise regularly (during non-panic attack times is best I find.) Think of being calm as like having money in the bank, and being stressed as like withdrawing money.
High intensity aerobic exercise (provided your doctor okays it) puts money in the bank so that you don't overdraw your account and go into panic attack mode. Dr. John Ratey discusses how effective this is to reduce anxiety in his book Spark.
Other things that add to your bank account of calm are yoga and meditation.
Studies have shown that believing that our stress response is harmful to our health can stress us enough to kill us prematurely. So rather than putting a negative spin on the word stress, how about a big old smile? As health psychologist Kelly McGonical points out, belief that stress is bad for you is the 15th leading cause of death in the US. People who experienced a lot of stress, but who didn't believe that stress is harmful had the lowest death rate in the study, lower even than the people with the lowest stress levels.
While some of us may worry about our stress response, it's not all a hardship for the body. In fact, part of our stress response is to release oxytocin, which causes us to reach out to others for support and inspires us to notice others' stress so that you can support others. Not only that, but oxytocin acts in the body to protect us from the effects of stress. It's anti-inflammatory and helps our blood vessels stay relaxed when under stress. Oxytocin also helps the heart repair itself. So your stress response strengthens your heart. We have biologically built-in ways to develop stress resilience when we reach out to others. So take heart.
You can find Kelly's talk here:
Earthing, fact or fraud?
When I first heard about Earthing years ago, I laughed. It was not a kind laugh. Then at least a decade went by.
The first time I tried Earthing was when I went to a chiropractor in Santa Barbara, California. He attached a cord to my ankle and it felt like someone had plugged me into a mild electric current. I asked what it was and he told me. I have come back most of the way from fibromyalgia, but I still don't make enough endorphins. I'm very sensitive to sensations. By the end of the session, I felt like I was floating on a cloud, it felt so good. I bought an Earthing fitted sheet and went home, excited to try it out that night.
That night, my partner did not share my enthusiasm. He wanted to know what the big deal was. I was lying there, soaking up all that amazing energy. "Don't you feel it?" I asked him. No, he did not, not one little bit. Meanwhile, I felt so much sensation that it was hard to ignore it enough to go to sleep. All my nerves were singing, but the volume was up way too high. Eventually, I got tired enough to fall asleep.
The next morning, I bounded out of bed with way more energy than typical. I felt great. I felt amazing, actually. And then I went and sat in front of a computer for hours and by the third hour, I noticed something interesting: my spine started hurting and drooping like it was a flower that had been left out of water too long. "Interesting," I thought. So if the Earthing theory was right, I needed a recharge. I took my shoes off and went outside to sunbathe. In fifteen minutes, my backache was gone and my energy was strong. I so often felt back pain that I had never been able to isolate it like that before to find out what made it better.
Over the next three weeks, I noticed something else interesting: I felt less and less sensory feedback from using the sheet. And then came the day that I could no longer notice any sensory feedback at all from it. I still use it nightly, along with a band for when I use the computer. Every now and then if I forget to plug the grounding wire back in after I change the sheets, I pay for it the next day when the backache returns. I can see how much sunshine and outdoor barefoot time means to my body. I realize that part of what fibromyalgia is could be called indoor-itis. Outdoors, sunshine and Earthing are medicine for me.
If you're healthy, I don't know what Earthing can do for you. But if you've got fibromyalgia, I highly recommend Earthing.