Fibromyalgia & The Caterpillar’s Wellness Journey

Fibromyalgia & The Caterpillar’s Wellness Journey

By Kathy Solivan, MA Human Services Counseling: Life Coaching

It is a long and arduous walk as the little caterpillar slowly paces itself across the busy sidewalk. It remains seemingly invisible, the little one presses forward although the chances of survival are slim. Oh, if we only knew what this little creature must think as it strives to overcome fear and every obstacle that presents itself along the way. Where will the journey take it as its little legs struggle to cross the great divide towards change? How will it hold on to hope if at every bend the odds are stacked against its very survival? Yet destiny calls to it nonetheless and it takes all the energy and will that it has to push its little body to the place where change awaits.

Kathy Solivan

For the person living with fibromyalgia, aka FibroSelf, the journey of the caterpillar is relatable. The ongoing pain and invisible battle scars of this wounded heart must reach deep within to find the strength to do the simplest of daily tasks. For some, the struggle is found in the morning hours as they fret getting out of the nest of the stillness and warmth of their bed to the shocking pain that awaits them with the smallest of movement. For others, the struggle is found with the challenges of the every-day as the fight to overcome brain fog and must endure mental aerobics to remember just about anything. The pain is random and chronically pulsing all the time while FibroSelf endures it as discretely as possible. Much like the caterpillar, FibroSelf knows that there is hope just across the divide towards the better days and with every step they gain momentum. The journey is long for many and longer for others but the need to press forward remains a constant in the heart of those wanting to live and feel alive.

The little caterpillar knows that change is coming and it prepares for it instinctively. There is not another soul on the planet that can make that change possible for it is a self-started and self-completed effort. Once the nesting place is reached, the caterpillar weaves the most wondrous of cocoons whereby the awaited change can take place. The caterpillar doesn’t simply weave a tight cocoon but wiggles thoroughly to make ample space for the arrival of its wings. While ordinary to the casual onlooker, the cocoon construct is ingenious, it is practical, and it is an amazingly perfect place for transformation. Once the cocoon is completed the caterpillar begins the process of change.

For FibroSelf, the journey is quite similar as they come to appreciate and create a safe place and build a trusted community. Only those who understand and render the least amount of stress are granted exclusive entry. The cocoon of sorts for this season is as peaceful as needed for the hard work FibroSelf must face in their own transformation to wellness. Self-discovery, self-awareness, proper diet and exercise, as well as healthy relationship choices are made during the cocooning. The space is limited but large enough to allow for growth and development with those who are held dear. Healing is of the utmost importance and gentle self-care and intentionality are paramount.

The darkness of the cocoon phase is scary and may seem endless. However, the day will come when the hard work of change is complete and the caterpillar is no more. It transforms into a radiant butterfly and becomes ready to exit the constraints of its cocoon. It wiggles and struggles to escape the once cozy nook and in the process, it strengthens its wings. If anyone passing by takes pity upon the struggle and assists by breaking the cocoon prematurely, the butterfly will not have the strength it would otherwise have developed and it will die. In the struggle to break free from the cocoon, FibroSelf must exude effort and carefully and intentionality work towards the goal and this cannot be done by anyone else. The excitement of new beginnings and of being able to fly is overwhelming and makes the process of breaking free necessary. The strength that is cultivated in this battle to really live and put the cocoon behind will be the strength that will carry FibroSelf through the life and days ahead.

Just as the little caterpillar finds its wings, FibroSelf generates a deep will and commitment to do so with or without the pain. The great days are enjoyed and the not-so-great ones are embraced with gentle self-care and love. The journey of change teaches many lessons but the greatest one is that life is worth living and worth living well. Fibromyalgia is awful but FibroSelf will find a way to journey towards daily healing and care one moment and one step at a time. These quiet champions battle daily and are a strong and resolute people even when they feel they are at their weakest simply because they have chosen to fly and live a good and enriched life. They find strength within themselves, within community, and/or within their faith. On their bad days, they can still enjoy life even if it looks differently than that of others. They work in every profession and beautifully grace the world with their love despite their invisible battle with chronic pain and their journey towards health and wellness.

For your fibro journal:

  1. Can you relate to the caterpillar’s journey and that of FibroSelf? If so, how? If not, what is your story?
  1. How informed on fibromyalgia are you?
  1. Do you have a self-care plan?
    1. If not, do you need help developing one?
      1. This is something we encourage you to talk with your doctor about.
  1. Have you considered your own cocoon and/or how to establish healthy boundaries so that you can be in a safe and healing place?
    1. Remember, isolation is not always helpful so please choose those who will be in your corner carefully.
  1. Do you have any other thoughts that may have come up during your time reading?

Kathy Solivan is a native New Yorker of island-born Puerto Rican parents. Her love for people and life has been challenged over the years as she quietly battled with chronic pain caused by fibromyalgia and fought to live her life. Kathy is an ardent supporter of the Fibromyalgia Care Society of America, Inc. (FCSA) through various fundraising and advocacy efforts, including the *2017 NJ Caterpillar Run committee.  Kathy is an active advocate for people living with fibromyalgia and plans on using her education, skills and life experiences to help those living with fibromyalgia. Through her work with the FCSA, she will periodically write articles for the FCSA fibro corner.

*The FCSA hosts annual awareness events throughout National Fibromyalgia Awareness month. To learn more about the FCSA please visit their website and/or follow them on social media-keyword: FibroCares.  To join the annual Caterpillar events or learn more visit:

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Authored by: Kathy Solivan

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Kathy Solivan

Thank you all for your comments and feedback! It was an honor to write this piece as a source of encouragement for all of us battling chronic pain.

I have personally battled fibromyalgia for a very long time but was only diagnosed in 2013. The journey has been painful but I have learned how to fight daily to keep my joy and work through the pain that would otherwise have me discouraged and broken. I was in that broken place for a very (very) long time and then one day I decided to take a 15 minute walk. That walk turned into a half hour and even more every day after that. Since September 7th of 2016, I have walked close to 1,000 miles!

The analogy of the caterpillar is close to my heart as it exemplifies my own personal struggle to find health and wellness. In 2014, I completed my very first half marathon – pain and all. I felt like I would die at the 7th mile and pressed forward with the strength I found in my faith and my family. While it is not easy to live with chronic pain, life certainly is worth living to the fullest. I monitor what I eat, I exercise as often as I can, and I have learned how to decrease and manage stress. I have also learned to be gentle with myself and provide the necessary self-care to alleviate the pain. It is not always easy and some days are very hard, but I keep moving forward with all the strength I have.

For those caring for loved ones with chronic pain/fibromyalgia – thank YOU for being kind, gentle, and consistent with your love and understanding!

Much Health & Wellness to each of you, Kathy


I’m so tired just plain mentally exhausted of the stupid b—— f— studies and Adobe for individuals suffering from chronic pain . The latest : if you have back pain grin n bear it. Exersize keep moving . What doesn’t anyone get, I cant keep moving as much as my heart n soul desires such. Two busted knees an bad back with bulging disks . Please don’t you realize I want to move I want to go places I’m so tired of pain I’m so tired of doctors ego righteous behavior. Telling me what’s best when their only concern is to follow askew guidelines allow insurance companies in a for profit biz determine what’s what. I’m ashamed of health care in this place called America I’m ashamed of behavior of 14 doctors I’ve been push to n fro n finally gave up on. The lord helps those who help the selfs I will do what I can for me because obviously any dr or insurance co will take my money but will not perform satisfactory for me. I was diagnosed with fibro in 2013. Combine this with the anguish of back n knees . Health care
Is there really such a word term
Health care. Nope not from where I struggle.

Nada Quit

My loving wife was diagnosed properly with fibromyalgia 6 years ago. I watched an energetic compassionate woman that had never met a “stranger” slow down over a periodd of several months. After 4 different doctors opinions, the fourth one diagnosed her with fibro. Ourlives changed very rapidly as she just could not fight the pain and fatigue while rearing our children and putting up with my complaining about two failed back surgeries. I will never forget her energy, vigor, and determination because she still has all of that. Her body just won’t let her be as active as she once could be. She NEVER fails to do what she says she will do. She loves life, people, and will help anyone however she can with no regard for any reward. Her reward is the joy of helping another person with any problem she can. My reward is her inspiration to never give up. We have lost all that we worked for for over 40 years. Our home, our savings, our health. She will not let me give up even though she feels worse than I do more times than not. I will fight for her comfort, and all who really suffer in this world as long as I can write a letter, speak on the phone, and argue with the authorities as to the “right” to have sufficient pain relief for a condition that no one has asked for.

Tara Molzon

I live 15 years can’t work in bed sadly fighting and surgeries I am a warrior supporter online as always I fight from my cell phone or table can’t even sit up in pain. Use home nursing even. Lost my ability to work so much But never give up And surgeries will help me walk on day again

Jean Price

There is a great book called “Hope For The Flowers”, about a caterpillar and his struggle I consider it “required reading” in life! (Sorry I can’t remember the author). It looks and seems like a kid’s book, yet the message is very profound and helpful. This article brought it to mind. There is a real comparison to us all I think, and with pain even another dimension to learn!. It’s an easy read…probably in a day or less! Worth it to find or order.


Beautifully written.