Fibromyalgia and Trauma

Fibromyalgia and Trauma

As fibromyalgia is a condition of the nervous system, trauma* is often associated.  In Peter Levine’s book “Freedom from Pain” he describes chronic pain as often a result of the combination of disassociation and tension being held in the body.  Disassociation is that feeling of being numb, and outside of your body, it is a way of coping with extreme pain.  Extreme pain can be triggered by a physical sensation such as an injury or it can be from ongoing emotional or physical abuse.  Adverse childhood events are highly connected (apparently an 80% correlation) to chronic illness such as Fibromyalgia (https://acestoohigh.com/got-your-ace-score/). 

Our nervous system is designed to respond to danger quickly with high levels of adrenaline and cortisol (often referred to as the brain eaters).  An elevated heart rate, shallow breathing, sweating palms, lack of digestions are signs that our nervous system senses danger.  Our bodies can manage high levels of adrenaline and cortisol for about 15 minutes after this it starts to wear our system down and we need rest.  

How do we treat a sensitized or stressed nervous system? 

We treat trauma – as our bodies store memories such as how to ride a bike they also store trauma memories the body has to learn that the event or events are over we are safe now and can keep ourselves safe.  You can start with, Peter Levine’s book “Freedom from Pain” if any the activities are triggering please see a registered trauma therapist. 

Being loved, and feeling loved is one of the quickest resets for our nervous system.  If humans are too complicates an animal snuggle can be a safe way to get a high dose painkiller. 

Meditation – you don’t have to be a monk! Just start with a minute or two each morning.  A body scan can actually make some of us feel worse if this has been your experience I suggest starting with peaceful imagery and music.  

Mindful Movement – see if you can find a place in your body that feels good or ok, you can’t ignore your pain but put the emphasis on area’s that feel ok and see if you can seek pleasure in movement.  This might mean yoga, a mindful walk, massage or ball rolling. 

*Trauma being defined as any negative life event in which we experience hopelessness.