Wondering if I have FM due to long term stress?

Tiara

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I am twice widowed. Both lucky and unlucky in love. My first husband's death 13 years ago was very traumatic and bloody. Some symptoms of PTSD from it. And stress problems with fatigue insomnia. cortisol swings. depression and anxiety. I was lucky to find love again. Much of this resolved with my second husband and happiness. We both exercised, had a healthy diet, walking the many hilly trails here for an hour 3-6 days a week. Both seldom sick. Then I got Lyme, not dx'd for months as wasn't supposed to be in this area. Then aretinal detachment, was healing and back on trails when my husband started getting sick. He was dixd with a bone marrow disorder not expected to become leukemia. Then he got Rocky Mtn Spotted Fever--I HATE ticks! That depleted his body and confused his dx of leukemia as similar symptoms. Not believed to be ttriggered by the RMSF. He died in my arms 4 years ago.
Grief was bad enough but I had fallen and dislocated an elbow, had some disc decompression therapy and was both anxious and depressed. I started to pick up about 2 years after but the loss of 2 good friends through life taking us in different directions, the last dog of the bloodline I had bred with my first husband and I was crashing.
I've had symptoms of waking with a stiff neck and body. aching but not sharp pains usually, still tired, brain fog and fatigue since Lyme. Symptoms of this and other things come and go. I was showing signs of low cortisol about 18 months ago and short term low dose prednisone helped. Still occasional use.
I've researched online about FM/CFS/ME as well as issues I've had lifelong but either low grade or varied with stress, happiness and such. POTS/OE, I have symptoms of EDS hypermobility, some symptoms of mast cell issues. I'm at the low end for most of these spectrum issues but cumulatively they are a pain in the backside.
I was improving then then covid and all the social/political turmoil roared in. A friend and I are roommates for duration or perhaps longer as compatible, good emotional support and checking each other but we are both down, missing people and worried about so many things. We're both retired, as safe as possible from the virus, understand each other's physical and mental health issues
I don't know how much is grief and stress and would aave resolved more if not for covid etc. I was improving.
BUt I feel flat. no motivation to do the hobbies I formerly was very busy with. It doesn't feel like 'normal' depression if that makes sense. It doesn't feel quite like any combo I've had before.
For the muscle aches and stiffness, low doses of gabapentin help as does a low dose of clonazepam. Both work on GABA receptors. Mood and energy a bit better with these but larger doses of either make me groggy.
While I feel miserable--feeling empty can be a pain of its own. most of my symptoms are on the low end of the spectrums but add up to little quality of life. Several antidepressants have not helped or made me feel worse.
Overall I'm seldom sick, health stats with doc are good and better than most my age. Some days I feel quite good but if I push too hard may crash later. Diet is good, could be better but lacking motivation and appetite for veggies. do take vitamins and green food powders to compensate.
I don't often have the sensitive spots that seem to be considered needed for a dx but many other symptoms. I feel like a pale shadow of my former energetic self.
While my PCP generally listens to me, I'm not sure she'd believe me for testing as I'm fairly low on the spectrum. And if I am dxd, is there much prescription meds can do that I'm not doing? I can check for diet, OTC supplements, and do want to get back to exercising more again, walking about half an hour 3 days a week and sometimes on my roomies treadmill when I have the energy
Does this sound like FM? I forgot i'm also taking low dose naltrexone, 3 mgs at night, it helps some with aches but is subtle
 

JayCS

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Hi Tiara - wow, what a lot you've been thru. A lot of us here have a stress history. But this can of course lead to many illnesses apart from fibro. And stress is not necessary to get fibro either. Seems mental health issues might be a main focus-point for you, whether fibro or not? If not counseling (for me cognitive behavioural therapy), then self-help books, web research, videos, forums etc. for pain, relaxation, stress, anxiety, happiness-training? For the direct fibro-pains learning to pace yourself better on good days to keep the energy kindling - sunkacola's advice pinned at the top of the forum is very helpful.
 

sunkacola

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Hi Tiara, I can relate to thing you say, having had some pretty serious experience with PTSD and grief and loss and depression in my life. All of these things can be contributing factors to FM, but you won't know if you have it or not without first taking all of the tests that eliminate the other things it could be. If your symptoms are all on the very low or mild end, I would agree with JayCS that you may have better success treating your depression, and dealing effectively with the stress level you have.

There are many different forms of psychotherapy for depression, and you need to find a practitioner who uses a form that works for you, and whose personality and approach works with yours. I say this because I have had decades of experience with various forms of therapy and I know that some forms and some therapists simply had nothing to give me.

CBT, for instance, which many swear by, did not help me at all, nor did the therapists who practiced it. But eventually I did find a modality and a person who helped me quite a bit, and set me on a path where I learned more and could help myself more. Don't think you have to stick with the first therapist you see, and especially don't let anyone tell you that it's your fault if the therapy or the therapist isn't working for you. Seek someone else if you don't like what is going on.

Another thing I would recommend is that you try group therapy, especially a grief support group. I went to one briefly and found it helpful, and I have also seen a therapist who was a grief specialist, and you might consider that as well.

And take very good care of yourself. As JayCS mentioned above, I have made a post with all the things I have used that have helped me. You might read it and see if anything there helps. Best of luck to you. Come here for support if you like, we are here to help.
 

Tiara

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My thanks to you both. I've had NLP training and my instructor helped me with PTSD and grief after my first husband's death. I've had more therapy and rejoined grief support groups online. Helped again but I've had so many blows to what I can handle too fast that this time I'm not getting back up very well.
Having been through grief before, this doesn't feel the same. My physical responses to meds that helped before has also changed. Either nothing but unpleasant side effects or definitely worse. Except for the LDN and low does of gabapentin. 75 mgs once or twice a day. Or low dose clonazepam which helps with anxiety and also rigid muscles. a quarter to a half of a 0.5 mg tablet. Very low dose. Anything working on GABA seems to help, although the amino acid GABA doesn't do much for me.
I'll be checking with my PCP about testing but my physicals have seldom turned up much beyond anemia a few years ago that resolved. Lyme is the only severe infection I've ever had that required much treatment.
I've gone through as much as I can think of for grief, PTSD, etc. and now looking to see how much the cumulative toll has taxed my body in ways that haven't been detected.
 

sunkacola

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Tiara, I think you are right about the cumulative effect. I know for myself that this is the case. This probably explains why it is different, and is taking longer, to deal with the stress and grief and everything else you are dealing with. PTSD is not a static thing, as you know, and if you are re-traumatized you can end up worse off than before no matter how much work you put into recovery previously. This stinks, but it's the truth for some people and circumstances. This has happened to me.

Also, know that all of these things can be triggers for the start of Fibromyalgia. It's entirely possible that you have developed that. Without the tests you won't know for certain, and I am not saying that's what you have because I cannot know, but it seems to me that it would be safe to assume you may have it, and to act on it accordingly because all of the things you can do for yourself to help with fibro are things that would be good for you anyway. I most especially recommend getting outdoors into nature even for just a little while on a regular basis if at all possible, and making sure you have regular exercise, because those seem to help a lot of people who are struggling with PTSD and depression. (and fibro)

Stick around here, and get support and ask questions. I have found it has heled me tremendously to be able to discuss things with others online who have the same problems, and when I am able to help someone it also helps me. Sometimes just knowing you are not alone is helpful. Especially when your system is kind of overloaded with more than it can process all at once, as yours is. All you can do is chip away at it at the pace you can manage, and be as kind and patient with yourself as possible in the process. I am with you in spirit and hope I can help.
 

Tiara

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One of the frustrating things is I am doing many of the things suggested and have had such a lifestyle most of my adult life since being one of the first women in bodybuilding gym 40 years ago. I seldom eat processed or fast food, but did sink to the point for a while that I was eating too much ramen with meat and frozen veggies added because I was too out of it to cook something better. Or similar quick at home foods. I'm on a good vitamin and mineral supplement program including lithium orotate--the natural form that can boost mood and it does help a bit. Electrolytes, trace minerals from kelp, I get local organic meat, eggs, and veggies. I live in an area with many great trails and walking paths in hills, along creeks and the weather has been mild enough to do so often. I've been out with friends--keeping our distance and attentive to air flow, masking if we near others, 4 days in the past week. And on the treadmill my roomie bought the other 3 days. I've improved since a year ago when low cortisol symptoms had crept up on me. I finally got hip bursitis bad enough that I needed a steroid. And realized how much my exercise tolerance increased as well as overall well being.
I continued to improve overall, ups and downs are part of life. Not great but better. Until about May when the stress of missing social activities and the news from politics, covid, protests dropped my mood and it started getting hot and humid enough to make me feel dizzy when walking. Swinging from angry to worried and then numb. Roomie and I doing what we can to prop each other up, talking with friends on phone or outside, but aches, stiffness, vertigo, fatigue, total lack of motivation crept in.
Diet is improving as I do feel some better in the past week. Enough to even find this group. I upped my LDN dose. It gives odd but not unpleasant, very vivid dreams but does seem to help with both mood and comfort.
I'll get tested when I can. Not sure how much I want to go in a clinic now as the covid surge is high here.
 

sunkacola

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Improvement does tend to be slow. If you are doing all of these things, you are on the right path and will probably experience more improvement since you have already had some. Or, you may not. It cannot be predicted, unfortunately. The best thing you can do is practice patience with your body's process.

Do your best to rid yourself of the frustration. I know how hard that is because I have gone through it. I loved weight training so much that I really missed it on the days I needed to take off to rest the muscles I was working on.

I was determined to continue weight training despite fibromyalgia, and put my heart into it. But I always hit a place where I could no longer move forward and instead had to cut way back on weight and frequency. And that was when it was possible for me to do it at all The frustration when I could not continue was intense.

It took me a long time and hard work to come to a place of acceptance on this. But I can tell you that accepting what is, and my limitations, has been one of the most important things for me. That frustration was only making things worse for me. I won't ever like the fact that I have had to limit myself, but it's a fact and I have no choice but to accept it, or allow frustration to ruin what I can do. It's vital to keep moving and exercising on a very regular basis, but now I walk and hike instead, and do yard work when I can.

Don't blame you for not wanting to be tested. I am avoiding clinics myself this year.
 

Dusty1957

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Tiara, I think you are right about the cumulative effect. I know for myself that this is the case. This probably explains why it is different, and is taking longer, to deal with the stress and grief and everything else you are dealing with. PTSD is not a static thing, as you know, and if you are re-traumatized you can end up worse off than before no matter how much work you put into recovery previously. This stinks, but it's the truth for some people and circumstances. This has happened to me.

Also, know that all of these things can be triggers for the start of Fibromyalgia. It's entirely possible that you have developed that. Without the tests you won't know for certain, and I am not saying that's what you have because I cannot know, but it seems to me that it would be safe to assume you may have it, and to act on it accordingly because all of the things you can do for yourself to help with fibro are things that would be good for you anyway. I most especially recommend getting outdoors into nature even for just a little while on a regular basis if at all possible, and making sure you have regular exercise, because those seem to help a lot of people who are struggling with PTSD and depression. (and fibro)

Stick around here, and get support and ask questions. I have found it has heled me tremendously to be able to discuss things with others online who have the same problems, and when I am able to help someone it also helps me. Sometimes just knowing you are not alone is helpful. Especially when your system is kind of overloaded with more than it can process all at once, as yours is. All you can do is chip away at it at the pace you can manage, and be as kind and patient with yourself as possible in the process. I am with you in spirit and hope I can help.
I am fairly new to this illness, but with my need to know in any research, I had to look for answers. I find myself happy to read all of your experiences. Things I noticed with myself was that I was diagnosed with PTSD many years ago and thought I was doing so well. My body seems to be confused, and something is happening physically in my brain. The pressure in the back of my head is not good, it feels like I was hit in the head and then I get headaches, but they don't last long. I also believe in my case, cold and damp weather does not help at all. My body is also rejecting all medications so far. However in my early years I did not take medications, so maybe that is why. I am afraid to go to bed at night because every morning I wake up in a fog, hurt horrible and walk around like a zombie. I drink a cup of coffee, but then after taking a pill for 'gerd' and drinking a protein drink, i.e. Ensure, I get a little better. Dr. says I need a hip replacement, going to get second opinion next week. I know that is not because of formalgia, maybe old age??? I did notice doctors don't understand this disease as I don't either. I will keep up researching.
 

JayCS

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My body is also rejecting all medications so far. However in my early years I did not take medications, so maybe that is why. I am afraid to go to bed at night because every morning I wake up in a fog, hurt horrible and walk around like a zombie.
No meds might just mean that you are very sensitive to meds (like) and always wd've been, were just lucky...
You wake up foggy & zombie-like?: No meds, no herbs or supps causing this? Are you sleeping enough? I've had to go up to over 9h, avg. of 10h for a week was OK too... (Before fibro I'd've had headaches from more than 8.5h... )
 
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