Updated: Dec 29, 2021
I started creating self portraits in May '21 that are up on my instagram too, but I didn't know how to word what I wanted to express in them and that's why the caption only reads "Self Portraits" , "Caring Hands" or something vague like that. I always wanted to write about my experiences with Fibromyalgia and depression but for some reason I backed out each time. Divij (my amazingly talented friend) actually pointed out that I've been saying I'm a bad writer for years and I just need to stop saying it and start writing. So, if after all this unnecessary build up you are still somehow interested in the thoughts behind these portraits, please do continue reading.
PIECES OF ME
Fuck me, I think to myself as I break. I come apart in spirals, segments of an orange, neatly dissected pieces. Honestly, it wasn’t that sudden. It feels that way but it never was.
One minute, I’m devouring the hills, eating sunbeams whole as I conquer continents. The next, tips of my body are pins, sharp lances that herald the arrival of my new roommate.
Fibromyalgia.. That sounds like nothing and fucking everything. I laughed, as the doctor told me I’d never be whole again. Laughed, as my insides exploded. Laughed, knowing that from now on, a new day wouldn’t be an entirely new beginning.
I tried to move on, losing myself in movements as I danced, a subtle tango with a partner that withheld my movements. The totality I once felt like, replaced by a jumble of pieces held together by anger and skin. -Divij Kulkarni ( My incredibly talented friend mentioned above took my rants about Fibromyalgia and turned them into prose and poetry, I haven't found a way to thank him yet and I am taking suggestions)
[ My multitalented and ridiculously generous sister Anchal and I went to Panshet (to my friend Shivon's farmhouse, yes I am surrounded by the loveliest of friends and family) to create these. She sacrificed her sleep, woke up at 6am to patiently use the tiniest pieces of double sided tape to stick Rajnigandha (Mexican tuberose) petals all over my body. It took about 3-4 hours to finish. ]
The rants that I wrote to Divij poured out once I put pen to paper, I will be sharing some of those here. In July of 2019, I was frequenting multiple doctors regularly for an abundance of health issues, I was seeing a therapist for my depression and I was very concerned about the fact that I was sleeping 14 hours a day and I could always still sleep some more. I just wanted to sleep for 2 more hours. But I first realised that something might be really wrong when I started to wake up everyday with pain in my fingers and toes. Just bending them at the joints brought me to tears which pushed me to see an arthritis specialist. I cried all the way to give my blood to get tested for arthritis and then all the way back when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. “At least it’s not arthritis, be happy”, someone had said while I was trying to come to terms with this. But I couldn’t see the silver lining? I couldn’t fathom how I could be happy about the fact that the doctor had very casually told me I would always be in pain. I hadn’t fully understood what it meant then and to be honest I think I still don’t. Id told a few friends about it and no one knew what it was. They often read the symptoms and joked about how they probably had it too and I laughed along but it was lonely. Imagine being in 2019 and not being able to relate to a single person around you. Naturally, I did what any 22 year old with a reddit account would do, I joined the fibro sub reddit. It was comforting to some extent. Everyone shared their experiences with this illness and could even joke about it. My psychiatrist prescribed some medication that would help me relieve the pain and something to wake me up in the morning, my yoga teacher/doctor prescribed some magnesium, Vitamin D3 and also epsom salt for when I was sore.
The next two months were spent , for a lack of more elegant terms, projectile vomiting and constantly shitting. Cause guess what? IBS (for those lucky enough to not know, Irritable Bowel Syndrome) famously accompanies those suffering from fibro. My body took a while to adjust to all this medication. I made it through with my family and my therapist.
At a good friend’s recommendation from across India, I joined a tango class. Those two hours, in a classroom where I didn’t know anyone I found that I could have a good time still. I was regularly practicing yoga, albeit with the senior citizens cause anything else made me feel like my body was crumbling. The next few months I spent joining two courses in French and rounding up a few school students to tutor in French to earn some money because I wanted to become a translator.
When the pandemic hit, thanks to my privilege, I set a strict routine for myself. I didn’t stray and it was the first time in a year I wasn’t in pain all day. Some days might have been bad but honestly, I don’t remember them. I was doing surprisingly well in therapy too.
Around June 2020, I got some unfortunate news from a friend and went into a really bad place. You see? The things is, when my stress increases, so does my pain. So, just like that I gave up on my well structured lifestyle. I ate like shit, slept like it too. Didn’t exercise for months and felt like crap in general. Since then, I often go into a bad place and do only the bare minimum to get by. But I’ve learned not to hate myself for having a flare up. I still didn’t talk about it a lot though.
If youve ever had the chance of hanging out with me then you know how I use humour to talk about mental health problems, I mean I never shy from them. Thing is, when you come from a family history of mental illnesses, like I do, you realise that you only have good humour to get you by the grim realities of life. But I guess I never considered talking about fibromyalgia like this, to anyone, at anytime, because that made it too real. I felt like I would give it too much power over me. That it wasn’t me, it was just a problem I had. Except, its a problem I will always have. And not being able to discuss it is in fact quite crippling. I was so determined to not let Fibro be my entire personality that I don’t know what I am anymore. I am using this series to purge this 2 year build up out. This charade has been quite exhausting. I don’t expect this to be cathartic. Writing about this isn’t miraculously going to change my life, I know that, of course. But it feels like a weight being lifted off of my shoulders and they’ve been weighing down a lot. My posture looks pretty bad, so maybe this will help. This is a start. In the wise words of a stupidly genius friend, “For the longest time I told myself that I don’t wanna be angry cause I don’t like being angry but now I’m at a point in my life that I wanna be angry “