Sometimes I wonder if who I am has changed as a result of learning to live with fibromyalgia. Maybe that sounds crazy – my personality changing because of a chronic medical condition. I scoff myself at the thought. But lately it’s a thought that has been nagging me, like the tickle on the back of your neck that makes you turn around, but no one is there.
This thought has been ruminating all week, as I find myself slogging through a rather persistent fibrofog. For almost two weeks now, the mental cloudiness I dread more than any other manifestation of fibro has held me hostage. I attempt to focus on writing my ongoing book project, but have no memory for how I formed the sentences. It’s a feverish effort to get the words down and I am literally amazed I ended up with entire coherent paragraphs when I read over my day’s work. I find myself thinking I’m keeping a grip on the fog while at my day job, writing everything down and double and triple-checking my work, yet discovering later I still made mistakes that leave me deflated. It’s punishing to your self-esteem to discover that even your best efforts to tame the fibro beast are failing.
Earlier in the week I meet a new acquaintance for a coffee date. We ordered, enthused about our love for art history and travel, and everything seemed to be on a positive course. Yet I struggled to communicate the entire time – thoughts and ideas always just out of grasp, my tongue failing to form them. I tried to correct for this error of brain functioning, but may have only appeared overly enthusiastic and slightly manic. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, maybe I still made a good impression and provoked intelligent conversation, but I begin to wonder how much I can trust my memory while wrapped in a fibrofog.
In truth, the majority of my friends are people I knew long before fibromalgia’s grand entrance into my life. They knew me before I began to lose confidence in myself. Conversations are not as fraught with peril when I am with them. So I relax and laugh off any eccentricities of my fibro-plagued mind.
I suppose the goal then should be to do the same in all areas of my life. How do I recapture my confidence? Maybe that’s what my wanderlust is really at its core all about – a desire to throw myself into the world, fibro quirks and all, despite my fears and hesitations. I navigate a new city all by myself, make new friends in far-off destinations, and my self-worth soars.
So how do I extend this devil-may-care attitude into my daily life in the States? After all, anyone worth being a real friend would look past the fibromyalgia and see me. But that’s the catch: the puzzle of self-esteem and fibromyalgia is a complicated mess that often just looks like a massive tangled lump of string, impossible to untangle and sort out. I think I have finally pulled the string straight only to discover the string more jumbled than before. Living in an American society where what you do is who you are, it just seems to become more complicated every day.
If I ever solve the puzzle, I’ll let you know.