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A Triad of Teenage Trajedy: Fibromyalgia, Bipolar and Anorexia

I was a very happy little girl with one exception. I did not feel like I could overcome obstacles in my way.  As a 3-year-old, my favorite phrase was, “I CANT like it mommy, I just CANT want to!” What I was trying to say was that it was impossible for me to do or like what my mom wanted.  I simply couldn’t imagine it.  Over a lifetime I have learned that I can like and want to do the impossible, and I want to let you know how I have made it this far.

When I turned 12, I realized that I was different from the other kids my age.  They were looking forward to their lives, I was looking forward to its’ end.  I didn’t realize that this was the first episode of bipolar depression.  I just knew that I hated every minute of every day.  For years, I would slip up and down the slope.  At its’ worst, I would stop eating and teeter on the edge of anorexia. Then I would feel better and gain some weight back.  If one were observant, and no one was, my mood was mirrored on how thin I was.

Anorexia is silent rage, a passive-aggressive letter to all that life is intolerable, and a war is raging in the brain of the sufferer.

At some point after my start of depression, another and more devastating problem emerged. I will never forget it. I was sitting in English class in 8th grade, scooting around trying to find SOME kind of position that didn’t hurt, when I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I was pain-free. The realization that not only was I the saddest person I knew, but also had to deal with some kind of mysterious chronic pain, made me bitter and I lost hope that I would find any peace.
 I decided not to tell my parents about it, knowing that finding out the problem wasn’t going to be cheap, and they already had years of medical bills from other problems I had as a child. I thought I had bone cancer, sometimes I hurt so bad I couldn’t get out of bed. And I had odd symptoms: spasms in my face, terrible TMJ, sleep problems, horrible neck pain. I felt like I had been kicked in the head every minute of the day. I spent all my free time laying on my bed, time ticking so slowly, every heartbeat one of pain and sadness. My weight plummeted again.

For two years I beat against the prison in my head, silent and talking to few people.

 With hindsight, I was right not to pursue my chronic pain.  Juvenile Fibromyalgia was uncommon in the late 80’s, and kids diagnosed with it lived with a poor prognosis due to high suicide rates.  They were also fed loads of narcotics, turning many into addicts.  I am proud of my silent struggle.  It taught me to be strong against anything.  My childhood phrase no longer had any power over me.
 By the time I was 16, I started cycling between depressed and mildly manic. I think it was part of my coping against pain.  Fibromyalgia is associated with both inflammatory disease and mental health disorders, both of which I have.  Perhaps that is why it started so early. But I found that I could smile, go to school full-time, go to my job that I loved, and deal with the pain.  I realized that I didn’t have bone cancer, just some crappy condition that wasn’t going to kill me.  I figured that someday I would figure it out.
It still never occurred to tell someone, the symptoms were too hard to describe, and I was afraid doctors would think me nuts, which I was already figuring out myself.  My bipolar disorder really affected my judgment.  Had I received some help for it, perhaps I could have coped with the pain a little better.
My memories of teenage years are a little bitter, but dealing with my problems kept me out of trouble.  I spent so much mental energy just trying to get through the day that I didn’t have anything left for relationships.  So my book and journals were my main friends and my solace from a life that seemed so worthless.
 It’s been 30 years since the start of bipolar and fibromyalgia.  Such long years spent trying to live the best I could.  My philosophy was that it was what the cards had dealt me and my cross to bear.  But I often think back on my life with deep regret for all the opportunities that I missed because I was just too tired to try.
While I was a very “good” girl, I rejected God in my heart.  He let me down.  But I never asked Him for any help with my conditions, never asked for his strength or for opportunities to use my condition to help other people chained to pain and sadness.  I had a ME problem, and I was stuck on it.  While I leaned on Him for my cancer, I have not brought any of my other illnesses to Him.  I still feel that it is my cross to bear.  Perhaps someday I will give these over to Him as well.

I recently posted this poem on my other blog, but it perfectly describes my bitterness when I look back at life with the hazy gaze of bipolar memories, so I decided to re-post it here.  For those who read both, an easy skip!  A rather bitter, harsh poem on Fibromyalgia is posted Here at the bottom.

Tainted memories, frail remnants of

partially medicated past,  meld

seamlessly with immoderate mood.

Parchment-aged, triste-hued thoughts,

coded on bipolar treated synapses,

fluctuate with the ebb and flow

of  blood-brain saturation.

Oh that experience and heart alone

left pure imprint on memory templates

untweaked by man’s medical gifts!

If I could tease apart with precision skill

these paper thin layers of moody memories,

glued together with a lifetime of saline tears,

and reconstruct events unsullied

by the pendulous swing of bipolar mood,

I would strike years off my life to embrace

an unhazed unadulaterated past with clarity!

But I am doomed to forsaken colored remembrance……

Picture: psychiatrictimes.com

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5 comments on “A Triad of Teenage Trajedy: Fibromyalgia, Bipolar and Anorexia

  1. You describe your pain and torment growing up so vividly. Where are you now do you think? As an adult have you made better choices about seeking help?

    • LOL. You know the answer to THAT! A resounding no. I struggle on, yet I continue to put one foot in front of the other! Now, I do seek help, but only half heartedly. And I give up too soon ON EVERYTHING in frustration. Right now I am not on any meds, stopped them all for a bit. I just need a vacation from the side effects. Soon I will need a vacation from the pain. I am a weeble wobble. I just don’t feel like anything helps long term. Except humor! I appreciate you M! And thank you for all the time you have spent on me today. 🙂

  2. Poor Lori. You’ve undergone so much and yet somehow you’ve still triumphed. There’s no doubting why people love and look up to you.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    • Thank you David. This was a very dark and traumatic time for me but I survived it. In hindsight it was valuable. A very small silver lining. But ah, what I wouldn’t give to have had a normal teenage life. Regret sucks the life right out of a person.

  3. I will not comment here, but I will respond in an email. All I will say here is that I can understand. And I still think you are a courageous woman of faith and that God has a plan for your life.

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