Editor’s Note: Jenny Schwarz lives in East Helena, Montana, suffers from fibromyalgia and uses art as part of her healing. She has agreed to share some of her thoughts and her art on Fibromyalgia Awareness Day!
Four years later, after not being able to work or even live very well, I know it well.
When people ask me what it is I tell them: “Simply put, fibromyalgia causes widespread pain, problems sleeping, headaches, numbness, tingling, morning stiffness, memory problems, arthritis, and any other thing that goes wrong with your body once you are diagnosed.”
When I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, I felt like the doctor was saying that I would be in pain now and every day for the rest of my life and there is nothing anyone can do about it and nobody would help me through it.
For a while, he was right.
It takes away your dreams, your hopes, and your happy moments. It makes loved ones grimace when they see you. It makes friends and family disappear. It isolates you into a tiny box until all that was you no longer remains.
Until very recently I was alone. I hurt. I gave up.
A couple of things happened. One is I found a doctor who listened and prescribed me medication that put me on my feet, most days at least. The other is I rediscovered my passion for painting.
Pablo Picasso once famously said, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
My “dust” is fibromyalgia and my painting indeed washes my pain.
Let me see if I can explain what I mean.
I only paint when I’m in pain. I’ve actually tried to paint when I’m feeling pretty good and honestly, it’s my worst work.
When I’m hurting, I paint the pain into the painting.
And then I give the painting away. I don’t keep my art - I give it others and hopefully they enjoy it. What it does for me, is it helps me heal because I’m sending my pain away!
And I think that’s my message today. There are things you can do to help yourself.
I refuse to be controlled by the pain. I will not let one word stop my life and destroy every fiber of my being. I will lose nothing more to this word, fibromyalgia. I will fight, and I will win. I am stronger than a word. I am more than a statistic, a person to sympathize, a person to look down on and say, “Aaw, what a shame. She used to be something.” I am not the shadow in the crowded room any longer. I am me, faults, blemishes, happiness and sadness, yet me just the same. I have baggage. I love and I hate. I am no different than you and I know nothing except what I know.
While this pain is a curse, I also now understand it’s changed me and for the better.
I don’t want to thank fibromyalgia-I’d rather not have it.
But this journey has helped me and I hope my story helps you.
And now, I have to paint!