Guest Post: Finding Your Faith Within Fibromyalgia by Kate Straus

Blog Post by Kate Straus

Kate can be reached through her website Spoons to Share where she blogs and shares insights on how to find your faith within Fibromyalgia. She also offers complimentary consultations for those interested in exploring how they can find accommodations to help them observe their faith in a fibro­friendly way.

Faith is another one of those difficult to approach topics. When I refer to faith in this blog, I refer to religion. Specifically, I am referring to faith in G-d. In a 2016 study presented by Gallup.com 89% of people polled in the United States believe in G-d or a “universal spirit.”

Then when you are diagnosed with a chronic condition or scary illness, faith can waver. I’m someone who strongly believes in G-d, yet, there were many times I was angry with G-d for the major life changes that chronic pain and autoimmune disorders cause. I’m sure many of you can identify with this situation. Right now, G-d and I are on pretty decent terms and we have open communication, so things for me in that department are all good.

​In an article entitled “Illness Doesn’t Equal Lack of Faith,” Suzanne Stewart, the author discusses that people that may be overzealous or “fundamentalists” (her quotations, not mine) will blame your diagnosis on your lack of faith in G-d, or a higher power. I can identify with this. I was once told, by an observant friend (I wasn’t as observant at the time), that life threatening illnesses are caused by your lack of faith in G-d. I was shocked. I had never heard such a thing. A few years later, I had moved away for graduate school and received a call from this friend. She called to let me know that her father passed away from a brief but terrible illness. My mind started racing. Despite this comment that my friend made, her family was kind, wonderful, and giving. They invited me for Sabbath and holy day meals all the time. Her father radiated nothing but kindness and now he was dead. I, of course, never mentioned what my friend had said in connection with her father, but I knew it couldn’t be true.

I’ve also been sent messages, since I’ve started blogging and posting articles on my Facebook page that I’m ill because I don’t accept Jesus as my savior. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m Jewish. At first I was angry at these people, but then realized it was a level of ignorance surrounding my faith. And, ignorance comes out strong with illness. I believe these people meant well, but their knowledge, biblical or otherwise was sorely lacking.

Stewart ends her article with the following statement: “I’m not here to judge any of these Faiths or beliefs, but I am here to say that nobody is sick because of their belief system or lack of faith. People don’t live with chronic pain day in and day out due to any Religious affiliations or lack thereof. We don’t use a cane, a wheelchair or a walker because we do not pray enough. It does not help a person with chronic pain and illness, to approach them and say any of the words that I’ve stated above. If you choose to pray for someone, then you can do that. But don’t try to push guilt and more pain onto anyone who’s already suffering. That doesn’t help, it only hurts and makes things much worse. Please try to remember to treat others as you would wish to be treated.”

We need to take this information to heart. As much as it feels like a punishment to have Fibromyalgia or any other chronic pain or autoimmune conditions, no one, including G-d, is punishing us. It took me a long time to recognize this, but my diagnosis lead me towards wonderful things including becoming a Fibromyalgia Advisor as well as making incredible friends who just happen to share the same disorder.

We also need to share this information with those who are giving unsolicited advice. Share this article with someone who might be doing this, and they may learn something from it.

Download a copy of Kate’s E-Book ~ Finding Your Faith Within Fibromyalgia

BIO;
Kate Straus worked in the education field for over ten years before fibromyalgia changed her life’s path. With a background in special education and early childhood intervention, she has compiled a toolbox of skills to help those with differences navigate life to make them the best that they can be. Kate has learned, herself, that while fibromyalgia can be an obstacle, it has also,revealed strengths that she did not know she had. She is easy to work with, listens well, and is compassionate.

After two years of coaching clients, Kate has learned that her specialties are, but limited to, figuring out how to be an Orthodox Jewish woman while making accommodations for fibromyalgia that still adhere to the Jewish laws and customs. She has also helped many clients make dietary, exercise, and other life changes so that they can live life to their fullest. She looks forward to using these strengths, her background, and her newly learned knowledge from the International Fibromyalgia Coaching Institute to advise others with fibromyalgia to learn how to live their new “normal” life.

Contact Kate Straus at http://spoonstoshare.weebly.com/work-with-me.html

 

Born this Way – Me & Lady Gaga

Like most in the chronic pain community I was excited to hear that Lady Gaga was speaking out about her recent diagnosis of fibromyalgia.

I have been hoping for years that the fibromyalgia/chronic pain community would have a celebrity spokesperson. It isn’t that I was hoping someone would get fibro but I was hoping that if they did they would use their celebrity status to shed some light on what most call the “invisible disease”.

Many fibromites have worried what it would do to how people think about us if they see how much a celebrity diagnosed is able to do when we can’t even get out of bed. We see her performing long concerts, singing & dancing at night after a long day of travel and rehearsal.

This past August Gaga announced her documentary. The film follows Gaga over eight months as she works on and releases her 2016 album “Joanne”, performs at the Super Bowl, and spends time with her family and friends.
Prior to the film release she announced that she had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Lady Gaga tweeted that she wants to connect with others who also have fibromyalgia. She wrote, “In our documentary the #chronicillness #chronicpain I deal w/ is #Fibromyalgia I wish to help raise awareness & connect people who have it.”

Also, before the film release she was hospitalized and had to cancel her tour.

She posted on Twitter at 1:26 PM – Sep 14, 2017
“xoxo, Gaga ✔ @ladygaga
Brazil, I’m devastated that I’m not well enough 2 come to Rock In Rio.
I would do anything 4 u but I have to take care of my body right now.”

Finally! We had a voice that would be heard.

I couldn’t wait to view her documentary, Lady Gaga Five Foot 2.

I watched it by myself this weekend and several scenes stuck with me.

Watching her cry in pain saying, “I just think about other people that have maybe something like this that are struggling to figure out what it is, and they don’t have the money to have somebody help them,” she says through tears. “Like, I don’t know what I’d fuckin’ do if I didn’t have everybody here to help me. What the hell would I do? … Do I look pathetic? I’m so embarrassed.”

Tami Stackelhouse, author, Founder of International Fibromyalgia Coaching Institute states, “In one scene Lady Gaga talks about using adrenaline to push through her pain and perform. This is the push/crash cycle. If you can break that cycle (and yes, you can break it) you’ll have more predictable energy levels and less pain. ❤️ Some info on how I recommend you do that can be found in my first book. Grab a free copy at TakeBackYourLifeBook.com”

Personally, when I saw her laying on couch, grabbing someone’s shoulder in pain as they moved/stretched her hips and legs I began to cry. Too many times I have needed others to help to manipulate my trigger points as tears fall down my cheeks.

I kept waiting to hear her talk about fibromyalgia. It didn’t happen. As it ended I reluctantly decided to post in a couple of my support groups “I might be the only one who was disappointed in the documentary.”

I know who Lady Gaga is and have heard a lot of her music but I do not follow her enough to know that the film was recorded prior to her diagnosis. After learning that the diagnosis came after the filming of the video I understood why she did not bring up fibromyalgia.

I think that the media hype that was created when she announced her diagnosis and canceling of the tour led to inaccurate posts about the film. We were all expecting to see a documentary showing her life with fibromalgia.

Manda Laclair, a Fibro Warrior wrote,
“I watched it. It was supposed to “open the worlds eyes about fibromyalgia.” it didn’t. It did not mention fibromyalgia once. It showed lady gaga doing what she does every day. It was real. I cried when I saw her in a flare up crying because that’s been me so many times and its great for the world to realize that just because someone is doing their job and they look healthy doesn’t mean they’re not in pain. She admitted to being in pain for almost her whole tour once, and that sucks. Working through a flare up doing your best to ignore is not easy. I’m thankful lady gaga was real and allowed us to see a glimpse inside what chronic pain looks like. But to say it opened the world up to what fibromyalgia is, is disappointing. So much more could have been discussed and covered however, it is a great start. So thank you lady gaga for sharing your story.”

I agree with Manda, I am grateful that Lady Gaga showed herself at her most vulnerable. I too was disappointed. I wanted to hear more. I wanted the film to be like a 20/20 or Dateline documentary.

However, I know now that the film was made before her diagnosis and was not meant to be about fibromyalgia but gave us a glimpse of the pain she has been going through over the past 5 years.

I saw similarities between myself and Lady Gaga.
We both have lived most of our lives feeling insecure and not good enough.
We both feel alone & lonely even while surrounded by others.
We both have had surgeries that are still causing us pain.
We both have tried various therapies to help relieve the pain. i.e. triggerpoint injections, cupping, massages, stretch therapies and medication.
We both have to rely on others to help to bring us our medicine, ice packs, heating pads, and work our trigger points.
We both have family members with Lupus.
We both make the mistake of pushing ourselves to get through things we have to do and then experience a painful crash afterwards.

and like Lady Gaga….

“I was born to survive” “I was born to be brave” “I was born this way”
&
I was born to be a Fibro Warrior~Living Life!

“I have always been honest about my physical and mental health struggles. Searching for years to get to the bottom of them. It is complicated and difficult to explain, and we are trying to figure it out. As I get stronger and when I feel ready, I will tell my story in more depth, and plan to take this on strongly so I can not only raise awareness, but expand research for others who suffer as I do, so I can help make a difference. I use the word “suffer” not for pity, or attention, and have been disappointed to see people online suggest that I’m being dramatic, making this up, or playing the victim to get out of touring. If you knew me, you would know this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’m a fighter. I use the word suffer not only because trauma and chronic pain have changed my life, but because they are keeping me from living a normal life. They are also keeping me from what I love the most in the world: performing for my fans. I am looking forward to touring again soon, but I have to be with my doctors right now so I can be strong and perform for you all for the next 60 years or more. I love you so much.” ~ Lady Gaga

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