Fibromyalgia is a syndrome characterized by the presence of diffused pain, tiredness, sleep disturbances, articular rigidity and it is usually diagnosed only after excluding inflammatory or rheumatic diseases. Being this syndrome rare and presenting apparently aspecific symptoms, patients who are affected by it receive a diagnosis only after a lot of time, after having consulted many specialists, and being underwent to several analyses and every kind of exam. Even when finally the diagnosis is formulated, the problem of finding an effective cure remains unsolved. One of the patients of the Milton Erickson Institute, who we will call P. for privacy reasons, reports: “The doctors who really know something about it are really a few, and even they don’t have many objective diagnostic criteria, except for the painful reaction that patients show if touched in specific areas called tender points, and, obviously, for the absence of certain hematological parameters pertaining to other diseases with similar symptoms”.
So, a lot of time was needed to find out what did you have.
Yes, about three years since the appearance of the first symptoms. The first doctor who diagnosed me with fibromyalgia is a well known immunologist who, even if he recognized the disease, only prescribed me physical exercise. But my symptoms weren’t getting any better. On the contrary, I kept suffering from insomnia, frequent fevers, chronic tiredness and muscular pain. In the end I went to see a neurologist who prescribed me some drugs that have been effective only during the period in which I took them. After a year since the end of therapy, my problems reappeared. That’s when I chose to try self-hypnosis.
Did the neurologist suggest you to try it?
No, initially he diagnosed me with depression and treated me with anti-depressants, he made me try several drugs until he found the right one for me. I understood that his knowledge on fibromyalgia was scarce, that he didn’t give too much importance to this syndrome. Subsequently, during therapy, he changed his mind, acknowledging that fibromyalgia was the root of my condition, and admitting that it was the cause of my depression.
I can imagine that you felt frustrated and confused.
I wasn’t confused, by that time I have had the time to gather information about fibromyalgia, and the uncertainty of doctors didn’t surprise me at all, but I was frustrated: I didn’t like the idea of depending on psychofarmaceuticals and anti-inflammatories and when the symptoms reappeared I was very preoccupied. In the morning I have been waking up rigid and contracted. I was never really able to rest and tiredness was aggravated by muscular pain. Imagine how would it be to feel as if you had the flu every day, on the long term it is a consuming sensation that affects quality of life.
Let’s get back to hypnosis, if it wasn’t your doctor to suggest it to you, who was it?
Internet. I made some research and I found several references describing Ericksonian hypnosis as a good method to manage symptoms of fibromyalgia. In the beginning I chose to attend to the introductive hypnosis course, then I continued with individual counseling, until I learned to use self-hypnosis well, up to the point of being able to effectively face tiredness and pain and to stop taking drugs.
Who was supervising you?
Dr. Gava. I really appreciated her counseling, under many points of view. I initially had great benefits right after the first inductions, but I am especially grateful to her because she motivated me to learn self-hypnosis. I would have wanted to proceed with etero-induced hypnosis sessions, but she insisted on how important it is to become able to self-hypnotize oneself in order to be free of using this instrument whenever needed. In the end I agreed with her and I am grateful.
How do you manage your symptoms now?
For example I use relaxation techniques on the evening before going to bed, especially if I feel “tense”. I can finally rest well and the pain caused by contractions disappeared. But self-hypnosis goes beyond that. Once I was in the car and I had a bothersome pain to a shoulder. I immediately visualized that pain as a triangle stuck in my muscle, I imagined of grabbing it and of throwing it away: it disappeared.
Not for me. For me the surprising thing has been to learn self-hypnosis and, consequently, to understand how incredible the resources of our subconscious are. Finding out of having a reserve of energy and knowledge inside me that I didn’t know about had extremely positive repercussions on many aspects of my life. Fibromyalgia is a syndrome that can become very disturbing. The physical aspect of the disease aggravates the psychological one: the lack of sleep makes you less lucid, muscular and articular pain limit you in every aspect of your life and I started to suffer because of it when I was just thirty, when one should be at the maximum of his energy. Self-hypnosis not only helps to manage symptoms of fibromyalgia but  it gave me serenity and self confidence. Looking back on it, the surprising thing is the fact that I hadn’t discovered it before!