‘It was bottle after bottle. After 32 years of marriage you would think he would have walked away because he had every reason to.’

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“Growing up you sit around and listen to mothers talk and share about their experiences including giving birth and gaining weight. The horrors of childbirth like the pain, medication, and what it’s like to walk afterwards. The gaining of weight due to pregnancy and the results after pregnancy. Listening to this as a child just taught me there was pain in giving birth and getting fat was part of being a mom. All moms need a bit of fluff, right? Helps them to snuggle you better. Nutrition really wasn’t something talked about or taught. Milk was still delivered and powdered cheese wasn’t packaged with chemicals. No one sat in front of the black and white TV nor did people sit on phones staring at the screen. Life was different but nutrition really wasn’t.

As a teenager it was quite simple to keep up with the 117 pounds. Eat bad one meal, skip the next and 5 pounds was gone. How hard is that? Thinking about how I looked in a dress or to the eye of a man never crossed my mind. I was modest. I was me. Even dating didn’t pack the pounds on even though it seemed every date was either over a dinner with at least three courses or a movie with extra buttered popcorn. It wasn’t till I was dating  the man I was to marry did the pounds start piling on. Now I’m no longer a size 7/8. Now I’m inching past size 14. But that was okay wasn’t it? He loves me for who I am! 

Husband and wife who have been married for 32 years smile as they sit beside each other when they were younger
Courtesy of Maria Love-Thompson

Being a stay at home mom was the best job ever! I could not imagine NOT being home with my kids 24/7. I knew what I wanted and my husband was so kind in allowing that opportunity and working hard to keep it that way. But as the years traveled past, busy with kids, my inner self became less and less happy. Not only was undiagnosed depression and anxiety covering me like a dark cloud but soon fibromyalgia took over. At one time it was thought I had arthritis because I had swelling in my joints. When I went to a rheumatologist he diagnosed me with fibromyalgia. I wasn’t impressed with him so I eventually started doing some research of my own and once the internet took off I was able to able to read and figure it out. I like to explain fibromyalgia is a lot like arthritis…pain, swelling, tired, etc. but it is deep within the muscles. Just like arthritis you often feel the weather before it even hits. You can get headaches and tiredness to the point you cannot stay awake, you have an aching body, etc. You must know which battles to pick. If I gave into every single pain of fibromyalgia, then I would be sitting on the couch, never moving. The best way to handle fibromyalgia is to get up, get moving. Yes, it can hurt and may hurt as you continue but life doesn’t stop.

Getting up, counting the hours till I hit the bed again, was the way my day started. Getting up from a nap and count the hours till bedtime was the continuance of the day. Hiding under the covers or in the back of the closet became an escape. My kids knew the routine and knew how to make life continue in our household no questions asked. Doing things with them or cooking for them from scratch was how we did it and made life easier. Making a triple batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and everyone’s spoons dip in till it was clean was a family fun time.

Woman with fibromyalgia stands outside holding baby beside her husband and young boy
Courtesy of Maria Love-Thompson

The days seemed to drift by one day at a time with dark clouds constantly following behind to hide the bit of sunshine that was left in my life. A partial hysterectomy ended my childbearing years but not the envelopment of darkness. It just seemed to build on top of itself. There were days of sheer madness, days of total silence, days of pure hate, and days of the most alone feeling you thought never possible. My precious husband got the brunt of everything that was scrambled inside of me. He geared for those days yet his love never wavered. How is that possible? I never blamed him nor blamed the Lord. They were really the two constants I could depend on no matter the day. There were days the darkness seemed like a pit with no bottom yet I felt the closest to them during those times. Medications seemed to help temporarily till it would no longer stave away the deep. It was bottle after bottle, box after box, test after test that offered relief for a bit of time. I never knew when it would hit. I never knew when I would hear the ‘snap’ of time. I just knew it would happen. This went on for years.

I had to have help and that meant to try one more round of therapy as well as meet with a psychiatrist. Me? No. That isn’t me. Why would I want to share this with anyone? They will not believe me nor will they want to hear me. It will just be another medication whose name you cannot pronounce to throw on top of the diagnosis. Oh, I still functioned all right! That wasn’t the problem. The problem was when I couldn’t function. Those times were happening more and more. So on to therapy I went. Therapy opened the diagnosis of severe depression and personality disorder. It was here I would learn to take a step forward when I could and take a step back when needed. It was here medications were leveled and worked on. It was here I learned that I could make my life better. It was here I learned I am stronger than I think. It was here I learned God gave me this ‘thorn in my side’ to help others.

Woman with fibromyalgia stands on beach holding granddaughter as she stands beside her husband who holds to other grand children
Courtesy of Maria Love-Thompson

I knew I could not really hold down a job. I knew there would still be days I would have to choose to fight or step back and rest. I knew I could still be used by God in some way, in some capacity. This wasn’t the road I would have chosen to travel down but for some reason it was chosen for me. I finally decided I had to get my life together physically as well. I didn’t want more pills and more medications to take over my cabinet. Diabetes, cholesterol, blood pressure and much more was starting to creep to the head of my life.  I watched a young lady I knew from Arkansas as she traveled a journey of getting healthy and helping others to get healthy as well. I began to reach out but also I knew myself. I was not good at completing things. I was better at starting them and failing. That was the way my life had been or so it seemed to me.

Luckily for me when you marry, it is truly for better for worse. There are days where you feel like being married and there are days you do not feel like being married but you are married because you made a promise to each other in front of others but most of all God. Commitment is not dictated by circumstances. My husband continued to help me search for answers and for help to control the depression. He continued to be there for our kids when I could not and he worked over 60 hours a week plus pastored. He never bad mouthed me to the kids or rolled his eyes in disbelief. He knew what was real. He loved me in the good, bad, and the ugly. The day I was flown to the mental hospital for a couple days stay was very hard for the both of us. We knew at that moment what we both meant to each other. At that moment I was not his. That was a feeling I never want to feel again. He got me more therapy and a psychiatrist that has helped tremendously. He keeps a record of me so he can see what is going on and knows when a low time is coming. He goes with me to appointments so he can share what he sees.  After 32 years of marriage you would think he would have walked away because he had every reason to. But that to me is true love. You love through the messy seasons as much as you love through the good seasons.

I began the weight loss program at the beginning of November after the Lord opened the door, with no hesitation, for me to walk through. I walked through but with hesitation. The ‘failing’ seemed to be in every picture frame I looked at as I walked through that door. Four months passed, sort of walking on the strict and narrow but not allowing my mind to really see that I could be successful. Not much was happening in getting healthy, maybe an inch here or there but that was about it. Becoming a coach myself would make me accountable and successful right? I thought so. It wasn’t until the middle of March speaking to my health coach that the Lord got a hold of my heart and made me sit up straight. If He allowed me to walk through this door why did I think He wouldn’t allow me to do what I was supposed to do, make myself healthy? Failure really is in my vocabulary not His.

Woman with fibromyalgia and depression stands smiling with arms wrapped around her son in a suit
Courtesy of Maria Love-Thompson

I jumped on board full force. This plan is so easy and enables anyone to get healthy. It really is a mindset. From March to November, 95 pounds was gone. How can that be? Simple. Follow the plan. I began to help others as well. I could do this. But come the end of November failure began to creep in once again. Depression began to show its head more than once a week. Dark seemed to cloud my life despite the sunshine I had been basking in. I haven’t gained but I haven’t lost. My husband had been losing on his own. He was doing amazing but I had tried another program that just didn’t work for me.  I felt desperate while he was doing great. When I saw my health coach losing on a different program I figured it wouldn’t work for me because nothing had in the past. My husband was willing to let me to try it but we waited to have the money to join. We prayed about it. My youngest daughter is at college and is working to take a bit off her bill. She worked just the amount I needed to get started on another weight loss program.

Woman with fibromyalgia stands smiling in home wearing shirt that is too big for her after losing weight
Courtesy of Maria Love-Thompson

One evening upon climbing into bed the Lord once again reached out to me and placed on my heart that He would once again see me through this dark season and soon the season of losing the other 70 pounds would be taking its place. I have been at a stand still since Christmas. Regardless I have added in jumping on a trampoline I keep under my bed. I do between 20 minutes to an hour a day. Shoes that were hurting my feet no longer hurt. Clothes are still loose and I am going down in pounds. I still have 70 pounds I want to get rid of. We had to add in a dose of medicine into my depression medicine and that is starting to kick in. I have a feeling I will be back in the losing mode soon. My older kids are super proud of me. Darkness happens in our lives and there are reasons the Lord allows it. But my favorite verse comes into play so much. Psalms 46: 10 Be still and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. There are times I move forward. There are times I stand still. There are times I cling harder than I did before. But I can ALWAYS move forward in the right time.”

Side by side of woman with fibromyalgia sitting in chair and her in mirror selfie after losing weight
Courtesy of Maria Love-Thompson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Maria Love-Thompson. You can follow her on Facebook here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.

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