Fibromyalgia warrior, Jasmine Russell, suffers from Fibromyalgia. Jasmine has added her face and story to Faces & Stories of Fibromyalgia. I am so grateful that Jasmine has shared this, as each story told raises awareness and helps fellow sufferers.
You can connect with Jasmine by following her on Instagram.
It was December of 2015 when I was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, but it was years of suffering and not knowing before then. I didn’t really know about Fibromyalgia until one of my close friend’s mum had told me she had it. I used to tell her all the pain I was in and that’s when she said that I should look into being tested. I told my doctor and because I was so young, he didn’t believe me. He thought it was all “mental” stuff that I needed to sort out. I was then sent to a Rheumatologist at the hospital who did many checks, mostly where all the trigger points were, and it was really painful. After a short while he then diagnosed me with Fibromyalgia. He mentioned that healthy eating and regular exercise could help lower the pain a bit, but Fibromyalgia is also a mental battle.
I remember going home that day realising that I would never be normal again, at least not completely, no matter what I did the Fibromyalgia and all the symptoms would always be there. I remember feeling like my life was over and that for the rest of my life I would have this disability. I felt so hopeless and worthless. I even started to feel bad for my partner at the time knowing that he would have to see me in pain all the time and it made me feel worse. It didn’t help that I had a partner that verbally abused me which made me feel even more unworthy of love, and even having a life because of what I had.
But this Fibromyalgia didn’t start then. It actually stemmed from a childhood full of abuse.
In case it gets a bit much for some people.
I do think that trauma has a lot to do with Fibromyalgia and definitely think that’s what caused mine. I don’t really share my story that often because I don’t want it to change how people see me. I still want people to see me as the strong, determined, and passionate person that I am. Unfortunately, I was one of those kids brought up in a home that wasn’t very safe. My parents were drug addicts and their way of punishment was physical violence. Most of that violence were things I would never wish on another human being. I was abused from the minute I was born. I don’t know what it’s like to be loved from a mum or a dad and I developed depression at quite a young age. As well as the physical abuse, I also suffered a lot of mental abuse, and on top of that I was a mother to my siblings from a young age too., I guess you could say that I’ve never experienced a childhood. And as if all of that wasn’t enough, I was also sexually abused for many years. I won’t disclose by whom. I can’t even put into words how much damage sexual abuse does mentally to someone. It took me many years to even look at my body in the mirror without crying and feeling disgusting.
When I was 15, I ran away from home, I didn’t have anywhere to go, and I only had my school bag and the clothes I was wearing. It took me years to get away, and that’s when all of the pain started. I started noticing that mentally I was really struggling to deal with everything. I was all over the place for many years.
I ended up getting my first job and everything seemed fine at first. It was a few years later when it hit me like a ton of bricks. My knees were the first indication that something was wrong. I was in so much pain when I got home from work, I would lay down and hold my legs and cry until I fell asleep. The pain got so bad that I had to leave my job and for 3 years after that, I was barely able to live a normal life. Everything started to kick in all at once and I experienced my first costochondritis attack, although at the time I didn’t know that. That attack lasted a week and it was so painful that I couldn’t get out of my bed and had to get help even just to get to the toilet. I was sick 24 hours a day for that whole week. I am so scared of getting costochondritis again, but I know that if it happens again, not to panic and control my breathing as the more you panic, the worse the pain gets.
After about 2 years of learning how to live with this illness, I slowly taught myself how to have a semi-normal life. After that, I ended up fleeing from a long-term abusive relationship and that has helped my Fibromyalgia a lot! Being happier and not being worried about being threatened, being in trouble, or walking on eggshells has been so relieving. Being happier in life has had a huge impact on my pain levels. I still have my very bad days and my knees are always in pain. I guess after a while of being in pain most days, you get sort of used to it. I hadn’t realised until later in life that not working through my trauma had one of the biggest impacts on the Fibromyalgia. I had been to counselling for 10 years, but I now see a psychologist and a psychiatrist to work through everything.
I was prescribed Cymbalta for my pain and depression, but the medication did not agree with me and I ended up with severe complications for 3 weeks. My psychiatrist suggested that I work through my trauma instead of us focusing on medication and I have now been properly diagnosed with very complex post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety (that mostly stems from the PTSD), and major depressive disorder. I have been given Valium for anxiety and panic attacks and Seroquel to stop my chronic insomnia and it’s the first time in my life that I have ever slept properly!
Working through my trauma and re-wiring my brain is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done but I know that it will be worth it for my future. As for the Fibromyalgia, I have a good understanding of where it originated from and how I can live without pushing myself too far, boundaries are very important! I think acceptance is the key, I have accepted that this is my life now and yes, I will have bad days for the rest of my life but there is also so much joy to life as well. I try not focus on this illness and everything bad, try to wake up each day grateful that despite the fact that I will be chronically ill for the rest of my life, it will never stop me from achieving my dreams and following my life passions. I am proud to say that I have already completed a diploma in counselling and am in a Bachelor of Counselling.
I have had many bad days through it all, but Fibromyalgia and my mental health for that matter, will never take over my life and the strong, determined, loving kind-hearted person that I am. I hope to inspire other people to not let this illness take away their lives too, because we deserve better than that. Fibromyalgia does not define us. We are so much more than this illness.