The Possibility of Fibromyalgia


It’s been a rollercoaster couple of weeks.  I mentioned to a friend – in passing – that I’d hurt my arm again (same site as an old injury) and of course now everything else hurt and she stopped me and said “that’s not normal”.

It was like a full set of black-out blinds had been lifted.  My body’s reactions to injury was not normal.  Nor was feeling achy all the time, or having stiff joints, or feeling like you’re constantly coming down with the flu.

I mentioned this to my GP when I saw him for more fluoxetine.  He mentioned that I may have fibromyalgia, and we talked it over, what the diagnostics was, what kinds of treatments there were, what it involved.

A lot of things suddenly make a lot of sense.

My muscles ache, despite them having no reason to ache.  My joints hurt.  Old injuries flare up.

I have no energy, despite how much rest I’m getting.  I sleep badly.  I feel utterly burnt out by the end of the week, and need to relax for the entire weekend to have enough energy for the following week, and even then sometimes it’s not enough.

I almost constantly feel like I’m coming down with the flu.

Noise is sometimes painful.  Some clothing is painful.  I can’t wear rings because some days they are too heavy to wear and physically hurt.  I dislike things around my wrist or my neck for the same reason.

I have issues with my memory.  Not that that’s exactly new, and I’ve worked around it by either doing a thing immediately or writing it down.  My rule at work is if it’s not written down I’m not going to do it.  I forget things I’ve recently done.  I forget names.  I forget nouns, or say completely different ones (which is more an aspie thing than anything else, and makes for amusing conversations).

I have heart palpitations, I have rush-of-blood-away-from-the-head on standing, I have large HR ranges from 100 when I stand to 64 when I’m sitting down.  I have IBS.

I’m sensitive to medication, I’m sensitive to food, I’m hypersensitive to needles (seriously, it’s painful).  Regardless of how much I relax I can never remove tension or pain from my shoulders and neck.  I have issues with thermoregulation.

I could go on for hours.  But the stupid thing is:  I thought this was all normal.

Because whenever I got ill frequently I was told to harden up and go to school or work anyway.  Whenever I ached I was told it was growing pains, or I hadn’t exercised enough, or I was sleeping too much.

So I just … stopped complaining.  And with that, I stopped thinking about the pain, because if I thought about it, it got worse, so clearly I’m just imagining it (isn’t it wonderful what backflips the brain does?).

Some days I couldn’t ignore the pain.  Some days I sat at my desk and thought ‘I can’t do that right now’ because doing that would involve standing up and moving around and right now, with my hips and legs in as much pain as they were in, that was just too much.  And I wondered and I marveled at all the other assistants who could hop up and run around and how on earth did they have that much energy, how could they keep going?

It never occurred to me that it was not normal.

I’m still adjusting to actually listening to what my body is saying.  It’s going to take me a long time to realise that when my body says ‘whoa’ I actually need to whoa, and not just ‘harden the fuck up’ and keep going.  I still want to tell myself to harden up and keep going even though I am exhausted to the bone.

I go in for diagnostics in a couple of weeks.  Just history taking and pressure points test and bloods to rule out anything else.  Once I get a diagnosis I’ll be able to start making progress, but for now I’ll sit in this mildly terrifying limbo.  Maybe I do.  Maybe I don’t.  The alternatives aren’t really much better.

Happiness is …


If there is one thing I have learned about happiness, it’s that it is as unique and distinct to each person as their personality and looks are.  Everyone has different things that make them happy.  There may be some commonality, but there will always be a few quirks!  We can also learn a lot about happiness from other people.  They may be able to put it into words and suddenly you realise you get happiness from that thing, too.

So for me, happiness is…

That quiet on the weekend mornings before the rest of the world wakes up.  Warm coffee with honey.

Watching the sun move around my living room floor, watching the cats (and dog) chase it in varying degrees of dumpling and sprawl.

A clean kitchen and a tidy home – it’ll never fully be clean just because of the amount of cat hair (I’m looking at you, oh short-haired one) that permeates all soft furnishings, but it can at least be tidy.  Airing out the house on a sunny day.

Lying on the couch, watching terrible murder shows (like Forensic Files) and playing dinky little games (Sally’s Salon is a favourite), and then rolling over to have a nap.

Snuggling into my onesie.  Spending entire weekends in my onesie except for dog walks.

Seeing the weather is lovely outside and knowing I don’t have to do anything if I don’t want to.  Seeing the weather is awful outside and knowing I can stay snuggled up on the couch and not feel like I have to make the most of the nice weather … because it’s not.

Reading.  Anything that I enjoy.  New books, old favourites.  Going back through my favourites list on Archive of our Own and reading my comfort fanfics.  Reading the funny things people put up on Fark.

Talking to a few close friends.  Visiting a few close friends at their home for cheap and nasty and amazing takeaways and a crafty evening.  Being open about my mental health with a few close friends, and the looks on their faces when I tell them they’re no spoon people, because even when I’m totally wiped out I will still talk to them and see them and enjoy myself and feel refreshed.

Opening the curtains in my room.  Lying on my bed and listening to music or podcasts with the windows open on a sunny day.  Having a nap there, with the sun and the fresh air.  Lying on my bed and listening to the rain on the roof and watching it come down outside.  Clean sheets.

Recognising when I’m starting to feel overstimulated and frantic and knowing I can put in my earbuds and put on some white noise and take a moment to breathe.  Beginning to understand and explore my limits and live comfortably within them.  Knowing that I don’t have to attend that work function, knowing that I need to stay at home to recover from the day, or the week, and not feel guilty at all about it because I just work differently to everyone else.  Knowing that it doesn’t matter if people don’t understand, I don’t have to try to get them to understand, I can simply say “I can’t do that many people at once right now” and that is enough.

Having enough income to pay my bills and to eat a bit better.  To not have to stress about whether or not I can afford the gas I need for the week, because feeding the animals will always come first.  Knowing that there isn’t someone there deliberately trying to screw over my budget, to take every cent of surplus and more.  Knowing that I finally have the freedom to manage my own budget, to apply money to areas where I see fit, to not have to compensate for Its fuckups.

Seeing other people’s posts on facebook and instagram where they’re doing amazing things for themselves and loving them for it.  Loving their journey, loving that they are sharing this with you, loving that you can see what they’re up to, where they are in the world, the amazing scenery they are seeing, the adventures they are undertaking.  Knowing that one day (and I’m realistic in that it may not be within this next decade) I will do the same.  I will go to places I want to go to, I will see things I want to see, I will have adventures I want to have, and I will take inspiration from my friends who have gone before me, and I will take advice from my friends who have gone before me, and I will be all the better for it.

There’s one key thing here that you may have noticed.  All of my happiness involves little things, and none of them involve prescribing to someone else’s idea of happiness, of wellness.  There’s no meditation, there’s no hiking up mountains (although I do enjoy occasional hikes out with my mates), there’s no big grand thing.

Life is a series of little things strung together around big things.  Alter those little things in life so that they are things you enjoy, so that they bring you happiness.  You may enjoy taking a walk at 6.00am.  You may enjoy sleeping in until 2.  You may enjoy socialising, going to cafes.  You may enjoy curling up in bed with a good book.  You may enjoy scented candles, drawing, beading, napping, gardening, researching …  what ever it is you enjoy, whatever it is you want to do at this particular moment, do it.  (Unless it’s illegal, then please don’t.)  If you don’t have the energy to do what you really want to do right now, that is totally okay, find a TV show you enjoy and relax into it.  Have a nap.  Have a cup of tea.

Let yourself feel joy from the little things in life.  Because life is a series of little things strung together around big things.


Sleep and Mental Health


These are two things that are intrinsically linked.  The better quality sleep you have, the better your overall mental health.  And, typically, the better your overall mental health, the better quality sleep you have.

And yet sleep is often the most difficult thing to get in sufficient quantities or quality to maintain good mental health.  It’s often one of the first things affected.  Either you sleep more, or you sleep less.  Or the quality just goes to crap.  You’re able to track these things with sleep tracking apps (my favourite is Sleep Cycle, but that’s mainly because I used to use it years ago and I don’t like change) which give you a rough idea of how deeply you’ve slept, and the length of time you’ve slept.  Its main use is looking blearily at it first thing in the morning wondering why on earth I feel like absolute crap and seeing very little deep sleep and going ‘oh, okay, that’s why’.

There are things I’ve found to improve sleep quality and quantity.  One of them is dietary supplements.  I’ve found magnesium (taken at night – I don’t know if this actually has an affect) calms the nerves and allows better quality sleep over a long period of time.  Taking magnesium was the first step I took in my walk to wellness.  I’ve also just started taking sublingual B12 drops, so we’ll see if that helps the muscle fatigue and aches and resistance to relaxation that plagues me.

Other than those two, I’ve found that I am able to fall asleep on the couch (not nap, no, this is proper sleep) when I have Forensic Files on the TV at a very specific volume.  I apparently can no longer fall asleep in bed unless I have either the amazing human being or the amazing dog on / in the bed with me, so on evenings where amazing human being is doing his amazing human thing past my bedtime … I don’t go to bed.  I put Forensic Files on, flip my hood over my face, and fall asleep on the couch.  It works a lot better than trying to fall asleep in bed.  And, bonus, I know I can zonk out early if I need to catch up on a bit of sleep.

Sometimes when sleep is being insanely stubborn, I’ll fall back on guided meditation to put me to sleep.  It’s important to find the right guided meditation for you – some voices are going to agitate you, and aren’t going to sit right.  Others deliver it in the wrong way.  I prefer male voices, mainly because my ears are incredibly sensitive to treble, and I get very stressed when I’m trying to find something to soothe me and it just makes my ears hurt.

I’m not yet at the stage where I’m contemplating medication to help sleep, but I know of a lot of people who are, and who do.  It’s important to note that if you need that much help to get to sleep, you need that much help to get you to sleep.

And now it’s time to fall asleep to Forensic Files, because I slept like crap last night.

Processing Trauma In Dreams


Dreams have long been touted as insights into your deep psyche, with a myriad of sites and experts claiming they can interpret your dreams and tell you … well, what you’re thinking, how your life is panning, and possibly even your future.

And it’s not all bollocks.

I’ll often find myself dreaming of spiders when I’m overly stressed.  Or that my car’s brakes don’t fully work – they sometimes slow the car down but never quite stop it, and sometimes they just don’t work at all – when I’m feeling like life has swept me up and I can’t slow down.

Last night I had a series of dreams.  There were five distinct ones.

In the first, I was loved and cherished, and I improved people’s lives by going full aspie on a water spirit who had people in its thrall (it’s not like there was a negative impact on them, just that they’d waste a lot of time in its thrall splashing around in its waters because it wanted the company).  It was so flattered that I was taking an unreasonably intense interest in what it was doing and what it was that it stopped the thrall and we sat and talked for hours and it realised it liked conversation more than splashy company.

The second one involved a frisbee, a stolen prototype helicopter, monster robots and a toy world warehouse.  There was a lot of screaming from me, and a lot of very creative piloting (of the suddenly small enough to fit between toy boxes and through open-backed shelving helicopter).

The third involved bears.  I couldn’t get the door shut and locked, and there were bears.  I finally got the door shut and locked properly (it required a huge shove and a perfectly timed key turn), then ran around making sure all the windows and doors were locked and the blinds were pulled so they couldn’t see in.  This was actually related to a conversation about Alaska and Canada and the bears and the fact that I won’t be able to go tramping out there without a big fuckoff gun because bears.

The fourth and fifth … well I’m not entirely sure which order they came in.  One involved It.  I’m starting to realise that a lot of Its behaviour, especially around sex, was abusive.  In this dream I told It he could take his blue balls and wank off, I wasn’t responsible for it.

The other … the other I’ve just realised is me speaking back about my sexual abuse to my abuser.  It and Thing (as that person will now be known) are two different people.  Very similar people, but definitely two different ones.  They were, in fact, best friends.  They suited each other well.  Both were self absorbed, showed little empathy for others, and were largely sexist.  They joked, they said they were joking, but their actions always said otherwise.

Mind you, I never realised this until this year.

So this part of my dream.  This final, crucial part of my dream.  I was at work.  I wasn’t at my current work, I was somewhere else … not entirely sure where, but I was in an office and I was working.  There was a loud male colleague over the other way, a real jokester, and he’d leer at me.  I got up to do some work at one of the benches.  He got up and came past and stood behind me as he reached for the printing next to me and ground his crotch against me.

This is what Thing did.  At parties we had at our house, he would get drunk and then pester me to give me a massage because he “gives great massages” and later because I “loved his massages”.  I’d already been conditioned by It to agree, to do what I was asked to do, to do what I was told and to not make a scene.  I’d inevitably agree.  We’d then go to the room I shared with It, I would lie face down on the bed, he’d insist I take my top off and try to convince me to take my bra off (that one never worked), and he’d give me a massage.  The first few were actually really great massages.  It was only later that he started to press his erection (in pants) against my ass and rub while giving me a massage.  I would wait a few minutes (so as not to be rude, how laughable) and then say ‘that’s great, thanks Thing’, and I’d put my top back on and we’d go.  Much later, he’d grab me by the waist during parties and sit me on his lap and grind his erection against my ass.  I’d escape pretty quickly then.

He breathed heavily.  I still panic when there is a male heavy breather around.

So back to the dream.  This ‘colleague’ ground his crotch against my arse and then sauntered back to his desk with his printing.  I was furious.  I held the end of the bench, then I went and sat down, and then I thought, no, I’m going to tell him that what he did was inappropriate and if he did anything similar again I would report him for sexual assault and pursue him to the full extent of the law.

So I did.  I got up and I went over there and I leaned on his desk and he smirked.  I told him that what he did was unacceptable and if he did anything similar, I would report him for sexual assault to HR, and then I would file charges against him.  And he started laughing and making light of it and started turning his chair away from me to laugh with his other colleagues and make a big joke of it.  So I grabbed the back of his chair and spun him around to face me fully, and told him in a much louder voice (which always carries in an open plan office) that he did not get to laugh this off, or make light of it.  That grinding his dick against my arse was sexual assault, and I would pursue him to the fullest extent of the law, and I would make sure he was locked up.  That what he did was serious and absolutely inappropriate to do to anyone.

His little beady eyes glared up at me as I woke up after delivering my grand and impassioned speech.

It’s been on my mind all day.  I’ve been turning it over and over again, trying to understand what it was.  It was only this evening that I realised that dream was me confronting Thing and not allowing him to dismiss his actions, to dismiss his impact on me, to minimise what he did or make light of it.

Once It is no longer a part of my life and I am fully in the clear of It, I will no longer have to pretend to like Thing should I ever see him again at mutual friend functions.  I will be able let mutual friends know that Thing and It have traumatised me and abused me – probably not the details, but I can let them know in no uncertain terms that these two creatures have seriously harmed me.  I won’t have to pretend.  About any of it.

The Problem With Spending


I just bought something.  For myself.  I didn’t need it – it’ll make things easier, but I didn’t need it, and I didn’t need it now.  There was a sale on, it was a bit cheaper than it would normally be, and I could afford it.

But the conditioning from an early age – I was an anxious and empathetic middle child, and mother’s face got so pinchy when I needed new shoes or clothes and I hated it – and the decade of abuse from a narcissist obsessed with money and the perception of power, going straight into being an impoverished student with too many animals, has meant that I cannot spend money.  If I spend money on myself bad things will happen and I won’t be able to afford to pay for the things I have to pay for.

Because that’s what would happen.  I would budget, make sure we could afford everything, give myself nothing to spend, and he would spend it all and fuck the budget.  My mind damn near exploded when I had a problem that would require financial input this year … and I realised that I could pay for it and no one would fuck up my budget so I couldn’t.  But I still couldn’t spend money on myself.

So I, understandably, panicked.  I felt guilty.  I felt awful!  I’d just spent money that didn’t need to be spent!

A friend of mine, who experiences these same issues, suggested that I budget in ‘my money’, the money I’m allowed to put aside and spend on whatever I want and is separate from my savings.  I will definitely start doing that, because I have difficulty with the ‘savings’ distinction.  I have difficulty identifying what it’s there for, but now I will have two ‘savings’.  One is for emergencies.  The other is for me to spend on myself.  On whatever I want.