Hello Unsanity readers! Thank you for staying with me this far along in my featured guests posts! I have been doing this since about October and have featured over 10 guests thus far! My next one is no stranger to anxiety and life struggles, especially when dealing with a physical illness that triggers these types of reactions. Please welcome Sydney Culver and her battle and realization with Fibromyalgia and mental health.
Four years ago, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. At the time, I didn’t realize there were signs years before and of course I didn’t know what to look for, so I treated the symptoms and not the cause. I broke out in a horrific case of hives, conveniently when I was going through a very difficult time in my life. The hives were so bad, the doctor wanted to me to essentially sign my life away by agreeing to some egregious amount of steroids to get the issue under control. I was already on a serious course of steroids, and had put on at least fifteen pounds, coupled with a moon face. I was terribly depressed and in pain. My ex-husband suggested another allergist, who was less aggressive and my husband was all for the second opinion. In about a month the new doctor had the hive condition in remission and the swelling began to go down. Nevertheless, my personal life was in shambles and even though I was getting better physically, I believe I was becoming a bit unhinged mentally.
I never really believed in “mental illness”, “anxiety” or “stress”. I thought one could just stop being sad, or depressed or anxious. I figured if you want to feel good, you will. Make yourself snap out of it! Boy was I mistaken. When your life is in turmoil and your health is in question, you cannot just snap out of it. I wasn’t sleeping, I wasn’t eating. There was one night when my sixteen-year-old daughter stayed up most of the night with me, comforting me as if she were the mom. I was that far gone. There was no way I could gain control of my emotions without help. I ended seeing a psychiatrist and he put me on an anxiety med and a sleeping pill. I learned exactly why sleep deprivation was a form of torture. I slowly got my life back on track.
A few years later, I was promoted from assistant principal to principal. The only catch was we had to relocate to North Carolina from Florida. My husband and I were elated. Before I was to report to work, we planned a trip to my hometown of Manhattan. It was hot and grimy in the city and my feet and hands began to seize up as we walked around town. I felt a shooting pain from my finger tips to my elbows and my fingers were so swollen, I couldn’t even wear my wedding ring. I thought the heat was getting to me but once I started the job and began to deal with the stress of a boss who loved to bully and belittle me, the shooting pain in my feet, fingers and arms, and the move from one state to another I realized there was something really wrong. I didn’t want to get out of bed, I would cry at the drop of a hat, my best friend came to visit and didn’t recognize me. My husband and bestie wanted me to walk away from the job. The stress was clearly breaking me down and once again, I wasn’t sleeping or eating.
As time went on, I had the wherewithal to not let the bully win. My primary doctor recommended a great neurologist who began to test for various auto immune diseases and I began the process of treatment. The medications are not only nerve blockers, but also used to treat depression and anxiety, which seems to accompany Fibromyalgia (my eventual diagnosis).
I believe the mind can control health. Stress can manifest itself as a disease. You cannot control the snowball effect of anxiety or depression without help. I suggest you don’t even try. There’s no shame in admitting you have a problem.