When I was first diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I was 23 years old. I have vivid memories of my first treatment with an acupuncturist — a middle aged man who quietly explained as he worked that he believed fibromyalgia often formed in people who didn’t speak about how they felt. At the time, I was baffled. I talked all the time. I was practically an open book. I laid perfectly still while this incredibly gentle man shuffled softly around the table, explaining the varying views on the illness, his sweet voice belying the force with which he laid in to each of the eleven diagnostic pressure points, causing my vision to go white from the sheer agony of the exam.
It’s definitely fibromyalgie. He told me, barely speaking above a whisper. It’s very sad. The pain comes from inside. You have to treat it both on the outside, and from within.
I didn’t really believe him, this tenured professor of acupuncture, this kind, brilliant, internationally schooled man. The searing pain in each pressure point he touched confirmed his diagnosis, but I couldn’t wrap my head around his notion that this discomfort I’d been having was a physical manifestation of emotional pain I’d ignored.
A decade later, I understand Dr. Li’s words much more clearly. Salves and pressure points and medication and needles can alleviate the pain when it comes, but the more honestly I accept my own feelings, the more I let the bad feelings flow through me as easily as the good, the fewer flare ups I face.