Hi folks! Well; what an interesting couple of months it has been! There is much to inform you about. In all honesty, I had an entirely different post set for publication about a month or two ago in relation
to the path my career has taken over the last while. It has been 100% positive news in my professional life lately, which I am deeply grateful for. I promise to update you on it soon. However, my personal life has decided to depart from this positivity as of late. In my post titled Rock Bottom: Part 1, I discuss my relationship with depression, and I made a statement that this blog page would be a safe platform for folks experiencing or dealing with mental health issues. In my heart and mind, I felt as if I could not publish the article I had originally intended to publish while currently feeling the way I am. From my perspective, it would act as a cover-up or a way to mask reality under the pretense that all is well. I feel as though it is time for me to utilise this safe space.
As a few of my closer friends or family members may be aware, I live with a chronic physical condition called Myofascial Pain Syndrome (MPS). This is a soft tissue disorder which mainly affects my neck, shoulders, and back.
Firstly, allow me to define “fascia.” Fascia is a network of soft tissue with an elastic-like texture that forms a web-like structure throughout the entire body, and provides the body with stability and flexibility. It surrounds all organs, muscles and
cells. In people who live with MPS, this tissue becomes knotted up like a ball of yarn that you cannot untangle. The more you pull on the yarn, the tighter the knots become. As a result of this twisted up tissue, severe and constant pain is experienced.
It is not exactly known what the cause is for MPS, however it seems to be predominantly brought on by physical or emotional trauma. The tensile force in the contracted muscles of someone living with MPS is equivalent to up to 2000 pounds per square inch. It is very difficult and wearisome to attempt to describe the level of pain that can be brought on by this malfunctioning soft-tissue. It is very quick to be dismissed by many professionals and civilians who conclude that it is “just a pulled muscle” and will work itself out in time. To further this point, it is a condition which is not known to the majority of health professionals and society in general. This in itself is very defeating. It is a condition that I have been dealing with since the age of 18, and will persist through lifes entirety.
In my experience, in addition to the physical pain, this condition is a cause for extreme fatigue. This is due to the fact that the muscles are contracted constantly. As
you are reading this, I would like you to ball up your fist and squeeze as hard as you can. Don’t stop. Keep squeezing. Use all of the energy you can muster. Keep going. Count to 10. Ok, stop and release. Not so easy, eh? Can you fathom trying to keep your fist balled up as tight as you can all day? How about all week, or all year? After a while, you wouldn’t be able to focus on much else. There may not be much pain associated with this, but I am sure it would exhaust you both physically and mentally.
To add to the fatigue that accompanies this condition, medication is required to help manage the pain, which acts as a heavy sedative. It is very difficult to function as a “normal” member of society.
In my experience, it has become clear to me that it is important to make the people around me aware of my situation. It helps to create a vital support system, and the more people that are aware of my situation, the easier it is to ask for help. It creates and maintains a critical dialogue between myself and the people I surround myself with. This goes for both personal and professional relationships or situations. It is a very difficult thing to bring up, but to some degree it feels necessary. One of the reasons for writing this article is to remind people that everyone is fighting their own battle that many others may not see. Therefore practicing kindness and compassion towards other humans can go a long way.
The emotional and mental fatigue caused by MPS can be another can of worms altogether. It is difficult to know where to begin when describing this, and it doesn’t help that I (and many other members of my family) possess a genetic predisposition to depression and mental health issues. In my case, these issues are prevalent on both my mothers and fathers side.
For me, it is usually depression lined with anxiety. It is a combination of never knowing when you will have relief, and trying to figure out how you will make it through the day. It is staying
in bed for days at a time because the pain is too great. It is relying on others when you want to remain independent. It is not eating healthy because you don’t have the energy to cook. It is feeling ashamed of being viewed as lazy. And as of late, it is not being able to enjoy my dream job. At this point in my life, I have finally obtained everything I have worked and hoped for in terms of my career in geology, and this condition removes any ability to enjoy it. It is chronic pain, and it is depressing.