Why I Roar

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar

Now I’m floating like a butterfly
Stinging like a bee I earned my stripes
I went from zero, to my own hero

You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up (HEY!)
Get ready ’cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’ll hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar…

Ro-oar, ro-oar, ro-oar, ro-oar, ro-oar

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter, dancing through the fire
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Louder, louder than a lion
‘Cause I am a champion and you’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’ll hear me roar
Oh oh oh oh oh oh
You’re gonna hear me roar…

 

This might seem a bit atypical compared to my usual post style, but bear with me. If you don’t like the song I’ve posted above, that’s fine – I understand differing musical tastes. I currently have headphones in so my husband doesn’t have to listen to this; he’s an Irish punk/heavy metal kind of guy.

What I want to focus on here is not the music itself, but the lyrics of this song, and why, when I’m at my lowest, they give me hope that I can (if not overcome) live a full and happy life with fibromyalgia.

I realize that this song is actually about a break-up with an overbearing boyfriend, and a woman coming into her own – which is a great message. For me though, the poetic you referred to in the lyrics doesn’t refer to a past love, or any person in particular, but fibromyalgia. This disease, throughout the large majority of my life has been trying to keep me down, and I now know that I refuse to let it. I went from zero to my own hero.

But it didn’t start out that way.

For the first several years that I suffered from FM, I did seek help from doctors at a fairly regular rate, but with no success. I thought that because I was just “some dumb teenager,” I didn’t have any right to argue with a medical professional. I know better now – if what the doctor is saying doesn’t feel right to me, I have every right in the world to make a fuss until I get the answers that make sense. Until I get a solution that works. I do not have to meekly accept the brush off from someone who says that it’s all in my head. Who thinks it’s a phase. Who thinks I’m just depressed. I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath, Scared to rock the boat and make a mess. So I sat quietly, agreed politely.

And even after I was diagnosed, I didn’t seem to understand how severe my FM was. I thought that a few pills would completely cure me. I was wrong, so wrong. And I let that fact, that I was sicker than even I had imagined, get me down. I felt like I couldn’t participate in any part of normal life. This hit me as an extreme personal failure. “Why couldn’t I be easily medicated? What was so wrong with me that nothing seemed to make my body and mind work the way they did in high school?”

With so little back up from doctors for so many years, I really began to believe that maybe there was something wrong in my head. Perhaps it was all just psychosomatic. I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything.

After graduating from college, some of the stress in my life was gone, and I felt a renewed zest for life. Maybe now that I was free from the shackles of higher education, the pressure of grades and homework, I could focus on my mental and physical health.

I certainly had the time on my hands. As I graduated in May of 2010, not long after the big recession got into full swing in America, I had a hell of a time finding a job. As a child of the ’80s/’90s, I had always been assured that if I went to college, graduated with a “useful” degree (I would classify my Microbiology Bachelors as such, though perhaps not my Linguistics Bachelors, since I’m not actually fluent in another language), a well-paying job would be waiting for me when I graduated. How quickly was that illusion shattered when I found myself rejected from every single job I applied to, for one of two reasons: not enough experience (I need experience for an entry level job?), or having a degree made me overqualified. In any case, eight long months dragged on before I got a job, and I had fallen into quite the depression.

I secretly suspected that all the hiring managers knew how sick I was with fibromyalgia and didn’t want to hire a sick/crazy person.

When I finally got a job, it was a wonderful position that was pretty much in my field (extracting plasmid DNA from E. coli is microbiology, right?) and I loved the people I worked with. The lab was doing great things in the world, and I was very happy to be a part of it for the short time I was there.

My next lab position I found within two months of being let go, and the experience at Bio5 really helped me out with getting a new job. I even started making more money. This job, however, was not in my field at all, really. I had never worked with animals, particularly mice, a day in my life, but after a couple of months of seriously in-depth, hand-on training, I felt ready to tackle all the animal research life could possibly throw at me.

Eighteen months later, my husband and I adopted our dog, Murphy. He’s the light of our lives, though he does bark a lot. He’s incredibly intelligent, friendly, and lovable. And this is when my mind, cruel beast that it is, decided that I couldn’t be allowed to work with animals anymore.

I began to dream, every night, that I was performing the same experiments on Murphy as I would on the mice at work. Waking up in a cold sweat, tears streaming down my face, I would push the nightmares away, and dutifully get ready for work (often late, but I was exhausted from restless, nightmare-fraught sleep). By the time I got to the building, I would be in tears again, shaking, nauseous and hyperventilating at the very thought of having to go inside. I missed a lot of work those last three months before I finally quit. I let my fibromyalgia, my depression, my anxiety, and my fears get the best of me.
I let you push me past the breaking point

The day I quit, I emailed my boss from my phone while I sat in a bath of rapidly cooling water, debating whether it was even possible to drown myself. After I sent in my resignation, I texted my husband, and let him know that I had quit, apologizing for being the scummiest person on the planet. Apologizing for letting him marry me when I knew I was worthless.

Then came the self-harm; opening up old scar tissue so people wouldn’t notice the marks. I didn’t feel any better after. Lying on my bed with a razor that day was probably the darkest I’ve felt since I was in high school and struggling with major depression.

I don’t really know how I got through the rest of that day. It was a bit of a blur, talking to my parents, who reassured me that I had to do what was right for me; texting my best friend who said basically the same thing, but I should have given two weeks’ notice, and what will I do now?; begging my husband to forgive me (fun fact: he was never mad).

After a couple of weeks, months, of soul-searching (and honestly, I’d thought about it before), I decided to go back to school. Now I’m getting my Masters in Education, and I can’t wait to be an inspiration to other people, encouraging curiosity, critical thinking skills, and a love of science. I really feel like me again. And I wish that I knew more about how I got here, but mostly, it’s just been a hell of a ride. You hear my voice, you hear that sound? Like thunder, gonna shake the ground

Nowadays, when I’m not feeling so hot, or my new job is stressing me out (turns out I’m not fitting in with the corporate structure of the company, but I try to keep my opinions to myself), I think about how I am going to treat every moment as a challenge-whether I win or lose, I’ll know that I gave it everything I had and feel proud. I’ve got the eye of the tiger.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts please call 1-800-273-8255 immediately or visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

If you feel that you want to self harm, please call 877-995-5247 or visit https://safehelpline.org/effects-of-sexual-assault/self-harm-injury

3 comments

  1. Nik-
    You are a brave, wonderful woman that I have had the privilege to get to know. I know that you can and will overcome any obstacle in your life. I miss you and hope you find the peace and happiness that peace you deserve. I can’t imagine what it would be to have my everyday movements induce pain, I live to move. I admire your tenacity and strength. Thank you for this wonderful blog post, you are in inspiration to me. :)

    1. Thank you Kendy-May. It’s always been my support group of friends and family who have made my life – as awesome and amazing and beautiful as it is – possible. Thank you for all your support!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s