I want to say at the outset that Fibromyalgia exists; it is a real disease. It is not a somatoform disorder (medical-speak for “all in your head”). There are many commonalities among the people who suffer from Fibromyalgia and the syndromes that accompany it (FMS). Also, there are related disorders that can be indistinguishable from FMS at times. Some of these disorders are Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and chemical sensitivity. I like to think of these disorders as the same one in a different manifestation. We often see this complexity in nature. For example, a tree looks different in spring than in fall; it looks different in summer than in winter. Yet, it’s the same tree.
FMS strikes our best, brightest, most productive people. It is found in a 3:2 ratio of women to men. It almost always attacks people with above-average IQs. It hits those that are goal-oriented, driven – even perfectionistic. They are often so accommodating that they delay their own satisfaction for the benefit of the social group.
Head trauma Physically, almost all FMS sufferers have had head trauma. Even when an FMS patient cannot remember the trauma (such as birth trauma), a SPECT scan of the brain clearly shows the injury. Almost all FMS patients have an infection that triggers the downward spiral into the disease. This may be a herpes family of viruses (Epstein-Barr Virus, Cytomegalovirus, etc.) or parasitic infections (Lyme’s, toxoplasmosis). However, the immune system continues to fight the infection long after the microbe has been eliminated. Most of the FMS symptoms come from excessive immune system activity.
Sleep disorders People with Fibromyalgia almost always have a sleep disorder. These tend to be “primary” sleep disorders caused by head trauma, stress, toxins, and nutrient deficiencies. In other FMS cases, the sleep disorder is “secondary,” caused by noise, a bad sleeping environment, or a sleep-disordered bed partner. In cases of secondary sleep disorders, FMS virtually disappears when the sleeping problem is resolved.
Human Growth Hormone is produced in deep, dreamless sleep (Delta sleep, stage 4). Since this is virtually absent in people with FMS, tissues are not repaired as quickly as they wear out. This causes premature aging, sarcopenia (muscle wasting), and chronic digestive problems.
Blood sugar problems FMS patients often have difficulty balancing their blood sugar. This leads first to hypoglycemia, then to metabolic syndrome. With metabolic syndrome, thyroid and adrenal deficiencies are common. Extra amounts of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase are produced and both women and men can suffer hormone imbalances.
Tips to help manage FMS Most people who suffer from FMS are nutrient depleted. Three nutrients are especially low in people with FMS – and no one will progress without high amounts of these three nutrients:Vitamin B-12Essential Fatty Acids (usually certain types of Omega-6)Magnesium
In addition to proper nutrients, a comprehensive stress management and lifestyle program can help those with FMS. Deep breathing (5 minutes upon arising, 10 minutes three times daily, and 20 minutes at bedtime) can reduce the level of “on board” stress that they constantly carry with them. Exercise is absolutely critical to recovering lost function. However, it requires expertise and finesse to progressively train a body imprisoned by FMS. Be careful! Also, be persistent: there are benefits in the struggle!
As you can see, FMS is quite a complex condition. For those of you suffering with FMS, you have my deepest sympathies. Perhaps some of these suggestions can provide you with comfort. My final words for you are: Know that you have value beyond your ability to perform. Life is not about what you do; it’s about who you are. Be the best expression of your true self every day and you will live a life with no regrets!