This blog post is a bit more personal than others that I have shared with you. In fact, this post is guest-written by one of my former clients. I recently spoke to this client and friend, Susan, and she actually came up with the idea for this post, since she wanted to share her story of recovery firsthand and provide people with hope that chronic illness does not have to define and dominate life. Without further ado, I turn this page over to her:
Hi. My name is Susan and I have a pain condition called FMS, also known as fibromyalgia syndrome. I was diagnosed 11 years ago and suffered a rapid decline in every aspect of my life. I was in a downward spiral physically, mentally, emotionally, vocationally and socially. I wanted to be well and had no idea why I had to suffer this type of terrible pain every day.
My condition came on suddenly, with what I thought to be a flu germ initially. I felt sick and my whole body hurt. However, unlike the flu, this pain never got better. Instead, it grew worse. I began to seek treatment 2 weeks after the initial onset of symptoms. This began the progressive loss of control of my life that almost killed me.
To summarize a terrible 8 and a half years, I saw literally dozens of doctors from all manner of medical specialties. I was diagnosed with various problems, ranging from nutritional deficiencies to depression to a variety of autoimmune conditions. Treatment was provided for each, but I continued to worsen. It seemed that the more I was doing to combat the pain, the worse the suffering became.
Eventually, a group of my doctors settled on the diagnosis of FMS, which seemed to best fit my problem. I would learn that FMS comes from an unknown source and has no known cure. I was taking many medications, which had terrible effects of their own. I began to suffer a variety of pharmaceutical complications that were causing deficits in my kidneys and liver, as well as in my immune system. I looked frightening, felt like I was dying and had no hope after trying literally everything to combat this disease to no avail.
I lost my marriage. I lost my job. I could not take care of my 3 children and had to give up custody to my ex-husband. I was truly alone in the world and was resigned to collecting disability, welfare and living in a one-room rental, with my only social interaction being provided by my various doctor appointments. I began to investigate suicide as my best possible exit strategy from this life of agony.
In the course of my endless hours spent online, I found Sensei Adam through his work with The Cure Back Pain Network. In this regard, I thank the lucky fact that my FMS seemed to favor back pain during this time, so I was inclined to research ways to minimize the suffering. I read lots of the material on his website and eventually wrote to him for help. We corresponded back and forth for a couple of months and Sensei provided me with lots of topics for additional research. He also introduced me to the mindbody medical view of my condition, which is something that was never even suggested I look into by a single one of my physicians. I started to investigate holistic methods of care and especially those involving psychological therapy, rather than drug treatment. I saw no risk in trying some of these techniques and found satisfying results from meditation and introspective thought. These positive results made me contact Sensei Adam again to ask him to accept me into his coaching program.
We began our work together and I knew I had made a good decision. Each day brought me new insight to my suffering and changed the disease from my adversary to just a simple part of my whole life. I made rapid progress and felt better literally hour by hour on some days. I was not told what was wrong with me, but inspired to look within to discover the problems. I came to my own conclusions with the caring support provided. By the end of our 4 months working together, I was a completely different person. I had accepted certain truths about my illness and had new insight to its origin. Through our coaching sessions, I was inspired to begin psychotherapy and came to have many personal epiphanies about the cause of my pain being linked to early traumas in my childhood that were brought back to life when my own children reached a certain stage of development. I never would have realized these things if it were not for my talented and extremely patient psychologist. However, I never would have even considered working with a psychologist unless Sensei Adam had inspired me to find an alternate path through our coaching work.
During our sessions, I found the strength and ability to make many changes in a short four month time period of my life. I began to work again. I re-established my relationship with my children. I reached out socially and reached inwards intellectually and emotionally. In summary, I became a complete person again, instead of just a victim of a cruel and domineering disease. My pain scores got lower after every coaching session, because I was so inspired to live that I just did not have enough time to suffer anymore. By the time I began psychotherapy, I was ready for the final step in what would place me back into the realm of the living as a complete person.
So, how did things end up for me? I still have some pain, but I know that it is harmless and that it will not spell lasting consequences to my life. Hmmm… My life. What sweet words. I can not believe I was thinking of ending it all due to my pain. Now, I want to live forever and continue to accomplish everything I can.
In the 2 years since I finished my coaching program with Sensei Adam, I have done things I never would have dreamed of in the past. I now share joint custody of my children once again and have reconciled many past battles with my ex-husband. We are no longer married, but we are friends and enjoy a close relationship. I returned to school and found a new career as an entrepreneur this past year. I am now financially stable and hopeful that next year’s fiscal forecasts will net my growing business an amazing return. I even have new friends and renewed relationships with many old friends. I volunteer a few hours a week for a FMS support group and have found the spiritual peace that eluded me for my entire adult life. Best of all, I love myself and my life. I treasure each moment and feel the benevolence of life surround me, instead of feeling the isolated victim of the past.
I accomplished all this and I am proud. However, without the guidance provided by Sensei Adam, I never would have taken the first step on the journey and would surely have been long gone from this earth already.
My goal of sharing my story is to inspire people with chronic pain. There is hope for a better life. You can do anything and everything in life. You just need a plan and in my case, I found coaching to be just the tool I needed to kick-start my internal engine and pull myself out of hell and into a self-created Elysium. I continue to value my relationship with my former coach, mentor and inspiration, Sensei Adam, to this day. This story is dedicated to him, since I am merely the author, but he is the architect with a much larger vision for my life than I even imagined. Eternal thanks, Susan