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Torture & Symptoms of Fibromyalgia/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome


Updated June 27, 2014

"Torture" is a serious word. People may use it casually to describe the wait for a boyfriend to call or some other relatively minor matter, but I want to consider this word in all its seriousness.

Some people may say symptoms of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are torture. This isn't a frivolous use - they're exactly right.

I was recently watching a show about spies and a character was describing techniques used to break someone down. These included:

  • Sleep deprivation,
  • Noise irritation,
  • Sensory overload,
  • And, of course, pain.

Most of these techniques, the character said, aren't recognized as torture by the Geneva convention but certainly feel like it to someone undergoing them. I can relate.

Those four torture techniques are all things that we experience daily with these conditions. Just yesterday I was struggling with sleep deprivation after two nights of much-interrupted sleep. I couldn't think straight, I was irritable, and I wanted to just scream at the world and curl up in a hole somewhere. Three days ago I was sobbing uncontrollably because 0f excruciating muscle spasms in my hip.

My family knows that it's easy for me to reach my limit on noise and over-stimulation in general. I've written before about how I practically ran in panic from a fast-food place because a blatting alarm was malfunctioning and wouldn't turn off.

This is something to tell people who give us those "I get tired, too," or "you'll feel better if you just smile" lines. Anyone who thinks they get what we go through without understanding that our symptoms are torture techniques needs some re-education.

Remind yourself of this the next time you feel weak for not being able to do something, and remember that at times you do put a smile on your face and keep moving forward, in spite of the torture. These techniques are used to bring down some of the toughest and best-trained people out there, and you deal with them every day. Who seems tough now?

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