Many people with Fibromyalgia have history of abuse

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by LoriBailey, Sep 24, 2003.

  1. LoriBailey

    LoriBailey New Member

    I just returned from the Rheumatologist and one the 1st questions he asked was were you ever abused in your childhood. He said that many with Fibro have. Whether it be mental/sexual, etc.
    Thought I'd share that with you all. There's a link between Fibro and trauma's.
  2. libra55

    libra55 New Member

    My rheumy never came out and asked me directly about that, but he did make the statement that "there is a certain subset of fibromyalgia patients that were sexually, physically or verbally abused as children." So I agree with that. I was molested by a neighbor and also a relative, both one time events but nevertheless traumatic. My parents (adoptive) were emotionally cold and distant. My husband is a verbal abuser (never physical but so nasty). Therefore I guess in my case this is true.

    Good wishes,
  3. spudzy

    spudzy New Member

    My doctor asked me the same question and said that several of his other patients with FM was from some type of abusive situations...he also wondered if there was some type of connection...and yes I was from a dysfuctional family...father drank and mother mean....could have some connection...thanks for asking this question
  4. Shirl

    Shirl New Member

    I had never been abused in my childhood, in fact I had a wonderful time as I was an only child on both sides of a large extended family for years.
    If being a spoiled brat and a tomboy has anything to do with FM, then I could relate......

    I agree with Papertowel on this one, the medical profession could send us all to shrinks, wash their hands of us and just chalk it all up to being in our 'heads'.

    I do agree that child abuse in the last 20 years has been rampant, or maybe it just came out of the 'closet' so to speak.

    When I contacted FM was after having pneumonia. Thats over twenty years ago. It got progressively worst as I got older. Could be age along with the FM that made matters worst.

    I have never had a doctor ask me if I was abused as a child. Could be my general personality that stops them from asking :)

    I am married to a man that was abused, not sexually but had a hard taskmaster for a father, and a frightened mother who did not stop his father from beating him, and he was also mistreated at school with beatings/punishment with permission from his father.

    I see the results of this as it has never left him totally. But he is a healthy person, but I can see the hurt at times in his eyes when certain things trigger his memory of those awful childhood days.

    Till this day, when he is around his parents, there is a 'wall' there that no one will ever be able to remove. They are like strangers.

    I amaze him with the stories of my childhood, as I could talk about all the great things I did non stop, and the grandparents that I adored, the parents that were as normal as anyone can get, not perfect, but just normal.

    His memories are sad, and very few are happy. Even his school days are sad with the beatings from the religious schools he was sent too.

    It leaves an impact on people, but you have to move on. Reliving those days are not healthy, and its best to get it out and then live your own life in a good way.

    We can't change the past, nor do we know the future, so the best any of us can do is live for the present and make the very best of each day that we have.

    Shalom, Shirl

  5. ckahele

    ckahele New Member

    my mom has FM and had a distant/alcholic father and a mean mother. she developed her FM after a stroke about 15 years ago.
    I had a good childhood but was married to an abuser. although my FM has become full blown these last couple of years i have realized that i've had certain symptoms since childhood.
    i truly feel that we are born with FM but something triggers it to rear it's ugly head and become full blown.
    wether it be a physical or emotional trauma or something enviromental. i beleive we are the canary's from the coal mine that are suffering first from the effects of pollution.
    keep the faith folks....
  6. jadibeler

    jadibeler New Member

    The ones here who discount the connection or say that other members of their dysfunctional families do not have FM discount the fact that A)an individual seems to be predisposed to developing the disease, therefore what their siblings do or do not have doesn't really matter, and B) child abuse falls into the category or trauma, as others have pointed out. I used to say that I was born with FM, but since learning so much here I'm more inclined to think that it's the predisposition that is the genetic link. I honestly can't remember exactly when I noticed that I was physically and emotionally different from my childhood peers, but definately by jr. high school.

    My mother had FM but I don't know much about her childhood except that her mother died when Mom was 6 and until 11 she was raised by an aunt that I gather was a pretty tough cookie. Her stepmother was much loved but a strict Quaker. She said was "sickly" as a child. However, I will say that she became severely ill after 2 incidents had occurred approx a year apart - a brain infection after a tonsillectomy and the shock of her wedding night - nobody told her what was going to happen and even living on a farm, she was never allowed near the breeding barns! Can you even imagine?!

    My daughter was raped at age 8, by her housefather at boarding school. That would classify as child abuse.

    Myself, I don't know. Mom was pretty hard on us and I know I would have given anything to get out of the house, even as young as Jr. high. However, for years I've suspected that I was sexually abused by someone just because of my negative reactions to sex. I have very few memories of my early childhood. Mom did finally admit, when I was pressed on the point by a psychiatrist I was seeing for my "frigidity", that I was abused around age 4, but that examination showed no indication of penetration. However, I discount that occurrance - I believe there was something more, by someone else.

    What it boils down to is the simple fact that child abuse is trauma and trauma is what seems to trigger FM. I don't see that, viewing it in this light, would allow dr's to automatically wash their hands of us and send us enmass to shrinks.

  7. DarleneWSerrano

    DarleneWSerrano New Member

    I am sorry, but this question concerns me and should concern others. It is the same as when the doctors ask you if you are under stress. Then blame all you ailments on that. Every person I know has stress in one way or another. Same as abuse. We have all had some type of abuse in our lives at one time or another, whether it be sexual, verbal (or in some cases, non-verbal but in gesture) or physical. Sorry, it sounds like the medical profession trying once again to "say it is all psycological".

    Sorry. It has taken nearly 10 years of suffering and finally getting pissed off with the medical professional that I finally found out what is wrong. I was once given the advice, to always move foward, never take take a step back. Only move foward even if is slowly.

  8. Ahorsesoul

    Ahorsesoul New Member

    I think if every heart doctor asked his patients if they had any abuse in their lives they could say there was a link too. Sorry, but I do not think abuse and FM/CFS go together at all. Most everyone in the world has come in contact with an abusive person at sometime. I think if the first question a doctor asked his male patients was "Did you play sports when you were younger?", they could link many diseases to sports too. I could survey FM/CFS patients by asking if they had ever washed dishes and link the two of them. Come to think of it, this is what caused my FM, I know I would feel better if I never had to washes dishes again! LOL
  9. Combatmedic

    Combatmedic New Member

    Many people IN GENERAL, have experienced abuse of (physical/sexual/emotional/verbal/mental) SOME form.

    That does not mean anything, other than it is an abusive world.

    SOME people who have fibro have been abused in the past, some people who have been abused in the past have fibro........not all people who were abused, have fibro. Not all people with fibro have been abused. So, what's different?

    Ahorsesoul(sp) had a good point, much the same as mine, if they went around and asked, "who played sports?" etc etc etc, and so on..........same result.

    Who ate hamburger?

    Oh no!...... I did....................uh-oh.

    Sorry Lori, now I'm getting sarastic with it. But, NOT WITH YOU, not at all, please don't think that I am.
    I simply do not put much stock into that theory.

    I was asked also, by one a$$hole of a doctor (first,only, and LAST visit with that doctor too). Then we exchanged some nasty messages through his nurse.......(poor lady!).

    But, it wasn't asked to me as if he were genuinely concerned, it was asked to me as if HE were saying "great, here's another poor(white)trash housewife, that doesn't want to work,........ *sigh* bet her husband beats her up every night too"..........even the way he looked at me, when he asked, made me feel like I was less than nothing.

    I was furious, and FELT belittled and insulted, and as if I would instantly be "of lesser" value to this doctor if I said "yes". Not worthy of his time, nor treatment, and as if the only care I'd be getting from him were anti-depressants forced upon me, when, I KNOW they are actually very, very, bad on me.(I have bad physical reactions to them, i.e. muscle jerking/twitching, itching, sweating, nausea, etc)

    I think that for a lot of cases, the *moment* you say "yes" to any form of abuse, in your past, present, both, whatever, that you ARE seen as lesser value, OR a headcase, depressed, most doctors......I bet you can nearly see an " A-HA! " light go off in their heads when the question of abuse is answered with "yes". I bet their eyes just light right up. :-(
    THAT IS NOT RIGHT! To take away care, or provide less than perfect care, and to recieve less than 100% of that doctors attention, if you HAVE been abused. that should NOT effect how you are treated, or how that doctor views you if you DO say yes.

    I don't buy that it is linked, and even if it were, WHY would that matter?! I agree, that they are going toward the "all in your head theory again, with that B.S. as another poster had said above. Again, THAT IS NOT RIGHT.

    Whew! Now I'm all fired up, and ready to call the doctor that asked ME that, and have it out with him AGAIN! lol.

    Grrrrrrr. I don't buy it. And the doctor that asked me, was the last doctor to ask me that question, and like mikie (I think it was that said that) maybe there's something to do with my personality, that stops them........lmao or maybe that young doctor that asked me has spread the word.....that it might not be such a good idea........I will not put up with that from anyone.
    Especially when I'm there to see an *MD* because I am ILL.
    If I need help with abuse issues, I will see a psychiatrist, of my own choosing. When I am in a *doctors* office, it's for a damned good reason,and it is NOT, because I want to discuss everytime I got yelled at(etc) as a child. It is because I am sick, and in pain, and so help me G-d, that is what we are going to address, or that doctor and I are going to have some problems!

    Now, that's just my opinion on the subject

    [This Message was Edited on 09/24/2003]
    [This Message was Edited on 09/24/2003]
  10. sumbuni

    sumbuni New Member

    If abuse or trauma from abuse causes fibro, then I WAS born with fibro! Evidently my folks had one of their knock-down-drag-outs when my mom was 7 months pregnant with me. I did not move for 2 weeks, and was born with a huge bruse and dent in my forhead. Not a good happening, but I doubt seriously if this is what triggered the fms/cfids. As a child I had energy to burn.

    Trauma, abuse (mental, emotional, verbal), life's story. Fibro/cfids...the story of only 50% of my life.

    I think the doc's question was born of ignorance, even if he did go to school 12 years or more.

    My 2 cents worth.


    God Bless!
  11. kalina

    kalina New Member

    That this theory is so pervasive in the medical community, you would think that there would have to be some research studies that were done to confirm that abuse causes FM. I've never seen a shred of evidence. Has anyone else?


  12. lea

    lea Member

    I feel many many people have been abused as children, and they do NOT have FM. In fact, Dr. Phil's show would not be so successful, if it were not for abuse in one form or another; and, they do not have FM.
    [This Message was Edited on 09/24/2003]
  13. mamacilla

    mamacilla New Member

    i'm one of the ones who believe we are predisposed to fibro, and something then triggers it. stress overload is one of a number of contributing factors IMHO. childhood abuse is stressful, but a direct connection from abuse to fm? i've never been asked this by a doctor. i do believe in body memories, but that's another subject!

    an interesting aside to this, i have actually heard a theory that there is a connection to childhood abuse and menstrual problems. makes sense to me, because our hormones would've gotten skewed during puberty due to the stress.
  14. Sissy123

    Sissy123 New Member

    I got symptoms before then. I got strep real bad and we were not a family that rushed to the doc. I would dream I was on fire and couldnt even swallow my own spit. That happen alot until my early 20's. Then I broke my back, was run over by a go figure. I have also had alot of therapy for dysfunction in the family and the rape I lived through at 13. I was also married to a very abusive husband. All I know is I never had the pain until I broke my back. I never had anykind of pain, except by my husband until then. I dont beleive abuse causes FM. I also have many relatives who didnt live through abuse who have it also. I think it is just another stab in the dark trying to tell us it is all in our heads...again. I am not falling for it. Doctors have made alot of money by telling us in so many words that it is all in our heads. I would like to punch them in the nose everyday for about a year and tell them "Its all in your head, go see a shrink." Just a joke, I would never do that, it has just been an exaggeration of mine for many years to say that. I was very althetic until I got hurt and after that I gained weight, then they would tell me, "If you would lose weight it would help the pain", I was thin when I got hurt, then I gained weight because of pain and the inability to move around like I use to. Pain caused weight, weight caused pain? Not. I am really, really sick of people thinking that because of this or that we are just whining. We are really sick and someday someone will find out the reason, and then who will need to go see a shrink and be told, "It was all in your heads"? Love Sis
  15. DonnaSR

    DonnaSR New Member

    If trauma triggers fibro, or events such as surgery, then how can anyone say childhood abuse does not trigger the fibro? I read that many people here on the board have developed fibro symptoms after surgery-so then everyone who has ever had surgery would have to have fibro right? But that's not the case. The same holds true for abuse. Not everyone abused will have fibro. As a survivor of childhood abuse, which is what caused my fibro, I am a little upset that more people are not educated about this. Fibro results more often from a lack of sleep, or deep sleep. Abuse victims often do not sleep; some because they relive the memories in their dreams, and others like myself, because you never slept as a child. You were hyper-vigilant not knowing who would be in your bedroom at night and why. I have had physical pain from childhood. The abuse was sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal. Extremely traumatic, and that pattern has followed me my whole life. There were no surgeries, no illness that led to the fibro. There was a trigger, as an adult, allergy shots, which made the fibro symptoms unbearable. But the pain began by age 10. My parents and doctors chalked it up to looking for attention. My rheumy asked me in a very compassionate way if I was abused, and I for one am glad that he did. Otherwise, he would not know what causes my fibro. Treatment is geared towards improving my sleep, and he connects with my psychiatrist as needed. He does not chalk it up to "it's all in my head" because he knows that I do have real pain, and that even though I am no longer being abused by my father, I will continue to fight the fibro. Right now, stress is keeping me in a very bad flare right now. Yes, stress for the skeptics. When my stress levels are down, so are the fibro symptoms. I do believe there are other factors, environmental, etc.(when the weather is bad so is the fibro), but I do have a connection between mind and body. I am in therapy, and will continue to be in therapy to deal with my issues and learn how to deal with pain, stress, and living with an illness with no cure. That is part of my treatment regimen. For those people out there who are suffering still from the abuse, and that suffering is in the form of fibro, I am right there with you. We have it even harder, because we still have to fight. We are reminded with each flare, each pain, that we were victims. And we have to deal with people who often don't understand, or don't believe what is happening to us. I hope I have not offended anyone. But having been through so much, and having so many people help me, I want to be able to help others now. Even if it means people disagree with me. This is not a personal attack on anyone; each person is entitled to their own opinion, and until the medical community can say what causes fibro with a definitive response, people can decide on their own I guess. That's my two-cents worth.

  16. isee

    isee New Member

    A few years ago the New Yorker magazine published an article in which many of the leading experts on fibromyalia were interviewed. The conclusion of the author was that these experts considered FMS/CFS a modern version of neurasthenia.
    Neurasthenia was a 19th century condition characterized by fatigue, worry, and headaches and depression that was named and identified by the cutting-edge doctors,including Freud. He and others observed it in many of their middle-class patients, who were considered to be unhappy in their domestic lives. He also observed it in his less well off patients, his original patients/subjects, who were largely poor women in insane asylums. Many of these women, rich and poor, reported sexual abuse to Freud. At first, Freud believed the stories of sexual abuse, then he decided that the women were fantasizing it, and that the fantasies were a form of this condition called neurasthenia, which became known as hysteria.

    The 21st century doctors interviewed in the New Yorker - the "leading" experts, who supposedly believed their patients were telling the truth about their symptoms - told the New Yorker writer that they believed that patients with FMS/CFS were suffering from essentially a psychiatric condition similar to neurasthenia a.k.a. hysteria. An updated version of hysteria. The doctors, the specialists: neurologists,psychiatrists, et al., said that they found that many,if not most, of their patients/women had suffered some form of abuse, and that the FMS/CFS, the illness, was their way of coping with the abuse and various unhappinesses in their lives.

    This article and its conclusions continue to have an effect on the belief systems of many health care practitioners, I believe. It's not the only article to promote this idea, of course, but the prestige of the New Yorker gave this theory a great deal of weight.

    Not only did it promote the idea that FMS/CFS was somehow brought on by some form of abuse or emotional malais, but it put the illness squarely in the category of psychiatric disorder!

    And, I think that's where it's stayed. Now, we who suffer from this illness must continually endure the prejudice of this attitude, that it's really all in our heads.

  17. Solstice

    Solstice New Member

    I also don't buy it.

    I too went to a rumey once and that was one of the first questions she asked me as she looked down her nose at me. I never went back. Seems like rumey's must have that as part of their training or something. I think they just don't know what to do with us, and their ego's need to blame us rather than to feel inadequate themselves...........or be bothered.

    Find another doctor. And give that one a piece of OUR minds before you do.
  18. Dara

    Dara New Member

    To me, it would indicate that he didn't think there was "rally" anything wrong physically, but that I was reacting mentally from abuse. There is a link to FM, but it's not from abuse. I believe it's genetic just like RA and other diseases. My husband comes from a very abusive family and he's as healthy as a horse. My daughter has FM and believe me, she's never been abused.

    This type of thinking is what makes some people thing this is all just in our heads and that we're hypochondriacs.

  19. Sunshyne1027

    Sunshyne1027 New Member

    I believe there is a connection to "some" who have fibromyalgia and child abuse as a child, including emotional and physical abuse. Also co-dependent people.

    I was mainly emotionally abused. Controlling people, smothiering, deprssive people. Been a hard road back. But was well worth it, learned more about myself. I now live in the present. Sometimes things trigger memories that have been shut down inside me. Its at these times that I experience increased pain in the body.

    Hard to explain to ones who don't understand though.

  20. Sunshyne1027

    Sunshyne1027 New Member

    I was like that too, normal stressful situations would feel ten times worse. Like in rush hour traffic, or a long line at the store, or the kids bickering. I would feel like it was ten times worse than it actually was.

    I thought about it earlier, and I have come to believe and am going to do some more research into codependents/childhood abuse and the link to fibro. I do believe there is a link. Maybe not for everyone. But for the ones there is and it can help.. Well great!

    Something I read awhile back. People like us don't know what feelings are. We hide our feelings. Feelings are like energy, emotional energy. Why do we, or used to block them? Because they were too difficult at the time to deal with, or we were taught to bury them feelings, they are shameful feelings. Its sort of a survival thing. If the feeling does not get resolved, if it gets blocked, it goes inside the body somewhere. Thats sort of what I was trying to explain. When you go onto a emotional healing journey, when old feelings are finally brought out and resolved, some of that stored up toxic energy is then released.

    When going through periods of healing, I experienced what felt like FM flares. But what to me, and other people like me, they are actually releases of toxic emotional energy. Like while on a healing pathway, like during therapy, or group therapy. Or sometimes on your own path of healing.

    I know one thing. People who fail to understand us, or do not want to understand us, is so similair to when FM or CFS is not understood by others. Ridding of toxic people in our lives goes both ways too.

    Its not a invisible disease either, codependency and past childhood abuse. You see it all the time when people cannot cope, or when you read/see with their way of thinking.

    I spot them all out so easily, and wish I could help them all. Wish I could hug them, hold them all. They feel like sisters and brothers, these sort of people.

    Found though, its a individual thing, to heal. Its a new way of life. You open up to love, by opening up your heart to feeling it all.

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