Yes I’m coming out….

no I’m not transgender or coeliac but…

up to this point I’ve kept my dark secret to myself, my family and a few close friends… something has stopped me from being open about having Fibromyalgia/fatigue and how it affects my life. That something I now know, was a fear of being judged.

Today I’ve turned 50 and to put it politely I just don’t care how people judge me or what people think of me anymore!

But I’ve been almost 19 years on this fibro/fatigue learning journey. A viral illness a few months after my son was born prematurely at 27 weeks weighing 2lb 9oz, changed my life. A diagnosis when my son was twelve months old confirmed that Fibro/fatigue had robbed my energy and left me with ongoing pain.

For 8 years I struggled to cope. I fought against this illness and invariably lost. My life was limited hughly. Everything was a struggle, particularly caring for two young children, a one year old and a three and a half year old. I woke up exhausted and went to bed exhausted everyday. I was frustrated, disheartened, emotionally and physically drained.

Ten years ago at 40, I had a mini mid-life crisis of sorts…I began to realise that my life was not going to change for the better. This was a chronic illness. I had to make a choice. I had to see my illness as a challenge and make my life as good as it could be within the confines of my diagnosis. I believed the only way forward was to control my fibro/fatigue rather than continuing to allow it to control me and limit my life.

I took the first step to turning my life around… I started looking for something new in my life, a new interest or challenge. I applied for, and was at the same time both thrilled and terrified, when I was accepted onto a training programme to become a volunteer Adult Literacy Tutor. The training involved an hour’s drive from home and one full day’s training once per week for six weeks. I struggled through every hour of that training, particularly the afternoons, battling to stay focused and awake. I was blessed on the journey home not to fall asleep and kill myself, or worse still, kill some other innocent motorists. But I got through it, taking days after each session to recoup my energy and function again.

I was soon offered paid part-time work as an Adult Literacy Tutor and for six years I juggled home life and part-time work and study, obtaining a Degree in Adult Education. I was proud of how far I had come. But I was constantly exhausted.

Two years ago I made a substantial breakthrough thanks to a four day training workshop with the Adlerian Network of Ireland. I realised that I had to listen to my body, set boundaries and learn to say ‘no’. The sense of relief and self-acceptance that came with that realisation was amazing.

This summer following another four day workshop again with ANI., I have taken another major step…

I’ve finally realised that I no longer need to control my fibro/fatigue. As a matter of fact I’ve learned to relinquish control. Instead I’ve learned to manage my health. I am no longer at Fibro/fatigue’s beck and call. I have some good days and there are always bad days. I have good hours and bad hours but a few things help…

I cherish the good days and I accept and manage the bad days;

I prioritise;
I pace myself;
I try to watch my diet;
I try to take a walk regularly;
I challenge myself;
I know my limits;
I’m not afraid to say ‘no’;
I believe in positive thinking;
I practice gratitude;
I write, journal & blog;
I connect with friends & family;
I grow through my students’ growth;
I rely on my wonderful husband, children, family and friends.

I remind myself that I am good enough as I am but I keep trying.

I’m happier, more confident and finally more assertive than I’ve ever been.

But this is an on-going journey, and it comes with ups and downs…

Thank you for sticking with me through my birthday story. I’d love to hear what you think!

How has turning 40, 50 or any other milestone age changed your life? What changes have you made and how have you altered your life for the better?

Go neirigh on bother leat!

Much love