Pain All Over: My Healing Journey From Fibromyalgia


Note: This is a repost of an article I wrote a couple of years ago. With so many people hurting from the mysterious condition called fibromyalgia, I thought it was time to share it again.

It's interesting that most of the people who reach out to me after reading this article seem to focus on the part of my story with Dr. Yeshi Dhonden. Like most of us, they seem to be searching for the magic pill (or herb) that will stop the pain. But taking Tibetan herbs was only a part of my healing journey and I had already done a great deal of deep personal work. Please bear that in mind if you are also searching for relief from your pain.

For someone who suffered from fibromyalgia for seven years, it's odd that I’ve never really written a post about it. It was such a defining moment in my life, and yet, thankfully, I never let it define me. So I've been hesitant to write about it. It happened, it changed the course of my life, and I moved on.

But if I never had fibromyalgia, I might not be writing this blog about holistic health and healing. I might not be part of an amazing community of energy healers from all over the world. And I might not have discovered the ancient “science of life” known as Ayurveda.

AcheMy art had become heavy from the pain of what was happening in my life, and although it was a good outlet for that pain, I became tired of looking at the darkness of it, the heaviness, the negativity. So I set it aside and took a turn down another path.

Inevitably, I discovered that the final destination was the same–whether it's my art or my penchant for holistic health and healing–they're all just ways of expressing myself, sharing my gifts, figuring out why I am here on this earth, and how I can help others. And that was my impetus for writing this post. Maybe, just maybe, someone out there who's hurting will be helped by my story.

So, here’s a little history of that seven year period in my life. Remember, this is my story, not a definitive article on fibromyalgia. My apologies for the lengthiness.

In the spring of 2002 at the age of 48, I came down with what seemed like some type of virus. I had a fever, aches and chills. Just for one day. The next day when I woke up, my fever was gone and I felt fine except for extreme pain throughout my body, especially in my neck and upper back. I remember thinking it was odd that the pain was bilateral and located in the oddest of places–the base of my neck, near my elbows, outer knees, hips, feet, etc.)

Over the course of the next several years my symptoms–in addition to the pain–were:

  •  Extreme sensitivity to wind (or any air movement–i.e. air conditioner, fans, drafts, even a strong summer breeze)
  • Sensitivity to loud noises, lights, crowds
  • Painful and interrupted sleep
  • Difficulty swallowing to the point of being afraid of choking while eating
  • Numbness and pain in hands and feet
  • Walking was painful, but I could ride a bike so I did that, constantly. (I was very physically fit before but became unable to do many things, even yoga.)
  • Digestive problems

I saw many Western medical doctors in the beginning, but with the exception of testing positive for Epstein Barr and parvovirus, I was told that they could find nothing wrong with me. They prescribed drugs (for depression, insomnia, pain, etc.), but I quickly discovered that the drugs only created more symptoms, which was the last thing I needed.

The only drug I succumbed to for more than a few months was Ambien CR, out of sheer desperation for a full night’s sleep. That didn’t end well. Believe the stories you hear about late-night roaming around and daytime craziness, because they’re true.

Diet was never discussed. I ate a pretty typical American diet, thinking I was fairly healthy in that regard.

I eventually began seeking alternative forms of treatment, and one day I sat down at a computer (back then I rarely used one) and typed in the words “pain all over”. Up popped hundreds of articles about fibromyalgia. It was the first time I had heard that word because this was long before the days of Lyrica commercials on television.

This mysterious word fibromyalgia seemed to describe everything I was experiencing. I took the information to my doctor who, while compassionate and curious, had never heard the term and still could offer very little help. She wrote me a prescription for physical therapy.

Back then I had really good health insurance which covered a ridiculous amount of PT and so I started going frequently. Three times a week. They would give me wonderful massages, do chiropractic adjustments and inject myofascial trigger points to numb the pain. They were my new best friends. I remember feeling really good while I was there, but the minute I walked out the door (especially if it was windy or cold), my pain would return.

One day I decided to make an appointment with an acupuncturist at the PT center. She was not an MD who had done a crash-course in acupuncture (insurance, of course, would have covered that), but was the real deal. Carrie Cegelis was the first angel in my recovery from fibromyalgia. In addition to being an acupuncturist, she was a gifted healer with many healing tools in her toolbox.

Carrie would do acupuncture and craniosacral therapy, along with giving me tips about healing foods and herbs. She suggested I try a tincture of St. John’s Wort to help me sleep. I weaned myself off of Ambien and started taking the herbal tincture. It took a couple of weeks, but all of a sudden I miraculously started sleeping! I also noticed a significant decrease in my pain, especially at night. And I had a brighter outlook on life.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, St. John’s Wort also helps with nerve pain and depression. Of course, “the experts” will say that there is no scientific proof of this, but it helped me tremendously.

I started to have some pain-free weeks, but then the pain would flare up again for no obvious reason and I would seem to be back at square one.

I tried colonics, a raw food diet, vegetarianism, veganism. Each of these seemed to help at first, but in the end, my pain persisted.

One day an employee at a restaurant where I was working asked me if I knew about Ayurveda. I can remember that moment as if it was yesterday. I replied “no” but in my bones I felt as though I had known it all my life. I was curious, but I tucked it away and it wasn’t until months later that I found myself in a consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner.

His words to me were “Your Vata is off the charts deranged.” I didn’t know at the time what that meant. Basically, I was seriously out of balance. Vata – the air/space dosha was unhinged and my mind/body were reeling from it. When I mentioned to the practitioner my curious symptom of not being able to tolerate any strong air movement, he wasn’t surprised. It was directly related to my severe Vata imbalance. I remember thinking “Why don’t Western medicine doctors know about this?”

That day was a real turning point for me. I began devouring information about Ayurveda. Still, my healing was slow and I was getting frustrated. I remember the Ayurvedic practitioner saying “It takes the body a long time to get like this (out of balance) and it can take an equal amount of time to come back into balance.”

By this time, my problems were far from strictly physical. They never are. I had finally started taking a good look at my life and making the mind/body connection which is so necessary for healing.

It was about two years into my painful journey that my 30 year marriage ended. I never made any connections back then with my pain and what I was going through emotionally. Now I look at my paintings from that period and see the pain and sadness etched into the work.

It wasn’t until years later when I had healed from the physical pain that I truly dug deep into the serious emotional stuff. Trauma and grief that went back decades, long before my marriage. The body stores what we can’t handle at the moment trauma occurs. But sooner or later, it rises to the surface, be it in your dreams or in the form of an illness. I believe that that spring day in 2002 was my tipping point.

I was really good at hiding my pain. I didn’t want to be a complainer. A hypochondriac. A pity party. I was really good at keeping it under wraps, even from my family. Until I just couldn’t anymore.

I remember sitting in a coffee shop in NYC with my daughter and bursting into tears because it hurt so much. She had no idea how bad it was. What mother wants to burden her children with her pain? Years later I realized that I didn’t know how to receive from others or how to prioritize my own needs. That was a big red flag.

For several years I volunteered for a group called Free Arts NYC. I would meet weekly with a group of under-served children and make art. Many evenings I would drag my sore body uptown, and for a couple of hours try to forget the pain. I was going in and out of it at this point, but it was still hanging around.

One of the volunteers who knew what was going on approached me one night and said that there was a Tibetan Buddhist doctor who came to NYC every year, and that she could get me an appointment to see him. She kindly kept badgering me until I made the arrangements. I figured I would try anything at this point. The Ayurvedic practitioner I had seen had left town and I had kind of drifted away from his recommendations.

I made my way down the stairs of the West Village apartment where this doctor was seeing patients. I entered a room and saw an altar with many candles and photos of deities. Not your typical doctor’s office decor. It was peaceful, with the scent of incense wafting in the air.

An elderly man in a monk's robe was seated next to a young woman, his interpreter. He motioned for me to come over, set a cushion on my lap, and reached for my wrists to check my pulse. I had filled out a form stating why I was there.

The translator began to speak, but the doctor raised his hand to silence her. Without being told the reason for my visit, this is what he said (via the translator). “She has pain all throughout her body. It is worse in the heat of the summer and the cold of winter. She has numbness in her limbs and cannot sleep.” And on and on he went, listing almost every one of my symptoms. I kid you not. I was in awe.

He told me to avoid coffee, soda, alcohol, smoking, pork, mustard (all kinds), bell peppers, sweet potatoes, yams, winter squash, fermented foods, syrups, large sweet fruits like watermelon, other melons, pineapple, mangos. This was my list, so don’t assume it would be yours. Our bodies are all different and have different needs when it comes to food.

He wrote me out a prescription for Tibetan herbs and instructed me to send a check to his clinic in India. For months I would do this and I would get a notice from the post office to come and pick up a package. The herbs would arrive in a brown envelope that was lined with a different beautiful silk fabric each month. I would carefully peal the fabric off and use it in my artwork.

If I had a question for the doctor, I had to wait until 11:00 p.m. to call the clinic because of the time difference. I only did that once and the woman answering the phone said “Let me ask the doctor–he’s right here.” The call only took five minutes!

After I left the East Village apartment that day, I went home and looked up the doctor online. His name was Dr. Yeshi Dhonden. I discovered that he is a highly respected doctor in India and had been the Dalai Lama’s personal physician for twenty years. Wow. This humble man without any fanfare was a healer in the truest sense of the word. I later learned that Tibetan medicine originated from Ayurveda, and in retrospect recognize all of the similarities in treatment.

For several months I faithfully followed Dr. Dhonden’s recommendations and slowly but surely my symptoms disappeared, one by one, never to return. The end was not nearly as dramatic as the beginning.

This, of course, is just my story. If you are one of the millions of people with pain all overyour story might be totally different. But I want to offer a few suggestions that might help you.

F I B R O M Y A L G I A:

  •  is for FEAR. Louise Hay, one of the founders of the self-help movement, believes that “Fibromyalgia is fear showing up as extreme tension due to stress.” Fear can have a devastating effect on the body. Investigate any fear in your life (keeping in mind it might be buried so deeply you don't even know it's there) and how it might be contributing to your condition.
  • is for your IMMUNE SYSTEM. The immune system is most certainly compromised with anyone suffering from fibromyalgia. Louise Hay remarks about someone with Epstein Barr – “Pushing beyond one’s limits. Fear of not being good enough. Draining all inner support. Stress virus. This was certainly the case with me. Proper diet, sleep and supplements/herbs are needed to help shore up the immune system.
  •  is for BREATHE. There really is a right way and a wrong way to breathe. I held my breath or took shallow breaths in my upper chest most of my life. When I learned proper breathing in yoga class, everything changed.  Going a step further and practicing pranayama will further enhance the healing potential of the breath.
  • is for RELEASE. Stress, anger, fear, grief, anxiety, shame, blame. Your body is crying for emotional release. Old stuck emotions are lodged in our tissues, sometimes for a lifetime, if we never get around to addressing them. This happens for a reason–it’s the psyche’s way of protecting us from something we can’t handle at the moment. But if you have chronic pain, it is probably time to go there. So dig deep. Journal, scream, laugh, cry, sing. Let it out. Explore the possible correlation between fibromyalgia and trauma. PTSD. Possible sexual abuse. And get help in the way of energy healing, therapy, massage, craniosacral, acupuncture. Anything that resonates with you and will help you release what needs releasing.
  • is for OWNING YOUR LIFE. Past, present and future. This is your journey. If you believe in reincarnation and past lives, then you likely chose this path to help you grow on a spiritual level. So, explore your past and investigate your present life. Imagine your future free from pain. At all costs, avoid saying “MY fibromyalgia”. Do not let it define you. Don’t use it as a crutch. Use it as an opportunity to grow and evolve.
  • is for MEDITATION and MOVEMENT. Learning to meditate is one of the greatest gifts I ever gave to myself. I wasn’t meditating during my painful journey and I often wonder how differently things might have progressed if I had been. But all things happen when they’re ready to happen. It enriches my life and my health now in more ways than I can count. And moving your body, though painful it may be, is imperative. Avoid excessive exercise, however–instead opt for walking, gentle yoga, tai chi, qigong, rebounding. Get that lymph flowing. Something that you enjoy doing is key.
  • is for YES! Above all else, work hard at remaining positive. If you have to fake it at first, that’s okay. Look hard for the little silver linings.
  • is for AYURVEDA and ACUPUNCTURE. Investigate these ancient mind/body systems. They were both key to my healing. Ayurveda mentions in texts that are over 5,000 years old conditions that have the same symptoms as fibromyalgia. This syndrome is nothing new. If I could give only one piece of advice to someone suffering from it, it would be to seek out an Ayurvedic practitioner.
  • is for LOVING YOURSELF...first, then others. Avoid becoming a martyr. Avoid feeling like focusing on yourself is selfish. Care for your body, your mind and your spirit. With all of your heart.
  • is for GUIDANCE. Ask for help. From loved ones, professionals, your guides and angels (yes, they’re really there for you). Don’t try to do it alone.
  • is for INSPIRATION. There are two meanings to this word. 1. The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative. 2. The drawing in of breath; inhalation. Both meanings apply here and can help you on your healing journey. Be inspired. It feeds your soul and will help heal you on all levels. Do something that gives you JOY. Dance, sing, play with your inner child. Breathe in healing energy, breathe out old pain and grief. Dr. Vasant Lad once told me that old grief stays trapped in the lungs and that there is a pranayama breathing exercise to expel the old stale air/grief. I wrote about it HERE.
  • is for ACCEPTANCE and ACTION. By this, I do not mean accepting that you have this condition but rather acceptance of the path you are on and that you may have chosen it for yourself in this lifetime. If I hadn't lived through my experience with fibromyalgia, I wouldn't be the person I am today. And act on making the changes necessary to move forward. This may, of course require looking backwards for some answers.

This is just an abbreviated version of my story. But one thing's for sure–fibromyalgia was my wake-up call. It was my dark night of the soul (one of them, at least). It was my gift from The Universe. I went through the fire and came out a new person. Just like after any natural disaster–a fire, volcanic eruption, a hurricane–life begins anew, and so it did for me. And it can for you, too.

Much love,

Resources to check out:

Truth Heals: What You Hide Can Hurt You, by Deborah King. Learn about the chakras and their effect on our emotional and physical well being.

Healing Trauma: A Pioneering Program for Restoring the Wisdom of the Body, by Peter Levine

Barbara Sinclair is a visual artist and holistic health practitioner with a passion for Ayurveda, the ancient mind/body system of healing and longevity. Barbara was able to heal herself from years of fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, by adopting an Ayurvedic lifestyle. She is now pain-free and joyfully shares these methods with her readers and clients. Barbara received her Ayurveda training from Wise Earth Ayurveda, the first school of Ayurveda teachings in the US. She is also a certified holistic health coach(Institute for Integrative Nutrition) and certified energy healer (Deborah King Center).You can contact Barbara HERE for an Ayurvedic consultation or energy healing session. To receive her monthly newsletters as well as weekly practical Ayurvedic tips click HERE.

Barbara’s Website:

Barbara on Facebook:

To view Barbara's articles on CLN, click HERE.

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  1.' pratima says:

    I have chronic fatigue syndrome and its in control most of the time. Few times a year i am tired without any reason, i used to get anxious at that time but now i rest on those days and usually feel better next day.

    As i understand fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are on the same spectrum. for me also it started after a flue like symptoms and was positive for epstein barr virus.

    My question to you is, is there anything you can guide me with regarding this and. I am in small town in southern illinois so not have access to a lot of things.

    Thank you.

  2.' Cari says:

    Thank you for your article…I was waiting for the sales pitch at the end. I am truly grateful for the information which you provided, without offering some product (for sale) following your well written post.

  3.' Divina says:

    Thank you.

  4.' Fiona says:

    Hi. I have suffered with fibromyalgia for about three years now. I have just read your article and it was like reading my life story. I find it still a very tabu subject and people are very niave. Thank you for this.

  5.' Denise says:

    I, too, have been healed from fibro…there were days of not being able to walk and severe pain that would wake me in the middle of night. Doctors offer no relief other than antidepressants and pain relief and referrals for physical therapy. Three months into antidepressants there was still no relief and pills was not a path I was willing to walk down. I took to accupuncture and incessant research and one day my brother introduced me to an amazing energy healer. I walked into his office limping, dragging my leg behind me and since that one session, I have had minimal pain on occasion. I called my energy healer for another issue and telepathically we had a session and while he was healing the secondary issue, since that second treatment, I have not had a moment of pain since. No one should have to live in pain on a daily basis like that but we also have to seek out the help that makes sense for us and not simply take a doctor’s diagnosis as the last word. It seems they can help temporarily but they cannot cure. The integration of mind, body, spirit and the practices that support that integration does cure…but you have to do the work!

  6.' Karin says:

    I have suffered from fibromyalgia for almost 20 years now. There have been times when I was painfree for months at a time ( I had a great Dr who was treating the whole body and releasing built up tension and herbal medications that opened up my endocrine system, etc. However, each year that passed the fatigue and fibro fog seems to be getting worse. To the point where 3 years ago I had to go on disability because I cannot function enough to hold a job. I recently found Ayerveda but am having trouble concentrating enough to understand what I need to know and what to do. Any suggestions? Is there Ayerveda for dummies? Or a cliff notes version?

    •' Sheila says:

      Hi! I too had a very hard time focusing through brain fog and fatigue to implement a healing diet and the rest, and I’m an Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist and practice daily energy balancing techniques!! What finally lifted the fog for me to be able to implement, was a probiotic
      It may be helpful to have an ayurvedic consultant or yoga therapist to help you keep it all organized.

  7.' Kate says:

    Your article was sent to me by a caring friend. My story is familiar, being diagnosed with fibromyalgia around twelve years ago.The medical profession only offered depression type drugs so I spent a lot of money on alternative treatments. After many years I eventually learned that cognitive therapy an excellent medical herbalist and spiritual healer have assisted my recovery. This year I am taking up meditation. I have found on my journey that the best healers inevitably cost the least and offer so much more with their insightful holistic approach. It is foreign to me, and sometimes alarming letting go of mental pain, especially when it is least expected. The acrostic poem is so true. Thank you for sharing your story.

  8.' Siddhi says:

    Thank you! This article was an eye opener! 🙂

  9.' Sarah says:

    Great article, I’m in the process of being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and, as I was reading this, I felt some hope within myself that you would give me hints as to find alternative ways to heal myself. I am intolerant to almost all medicine used to treat fibro. I am going it cold turkey right now and it’s not easy. There is one problem with your article though, your final solution seems to have been a doctor from India who is practically unreachable!! I checked out his website and he doesn’t reply to e-mails and there seems to be no way to meet him in person…

  10.' prativa says:

    Thanks for ur advice. Your story is eye opening device to me. I also want to do meditation and medical herbs

  11.' Mini says:

    I just need to know that Ayurveda treatments DO cure fibromyalgia right? Like if you follow the ayurvedic procedures, do yoga and other medical herbs stuff there is a cure for this right? Please do reply. Thanks a lot for this article!

  12.' Rosie Leboeuf says:

    I left a reply a few weeks back but it wasn’t published for some reason. I read your article with great hope. But my conclusion is that you we’re healed by an Indian doctor who totally seems out of reach, inaccessible and even out of the country so, what is the solution?? Ayurveda didn’t heal you so that’s not it. Where should I go if I want to get better, like you did, what steps should I take??

  13.' M says:

    I appreciate your article. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia over 20 years ago. I had never hear of it prior to the two doctors stating that this is what I had (One was a rheumatologist). I was also diagnosed with chronic fatigue a few years later and then I have have had a few other health issues in the meantime. I thought I has the pain under control — and I did for quite some time– now it is back and worse than it has been in sometime.
    I have had family members go thru traumatic health issues lately and I have been one of the caregivers. I have been told that what I have is not as important as what they are going thru.
    I have decided that I am going to try and figure out a way to halt this pain which is beyond belief sometimes (now happens to be one of them). I feel guilty because I have pulled back from helping the others because it is just so painful for me. I would love a massage but due to a prior DVT no one wants to take me on as a patient. I use to do massage therapy before the blood clot. I understand their not wanting to so it just means I have to find other ways of getting rid of the pain. I have found acupuncture and walking and yoga but I must admit sometimes the pain is still there.
    I do not like taking medications as I have been allergic to quite a number that I have tried. I guess I do not want to end up with a bad reaction. I take vitamins and minerals as a result and every now and again ibuprofen.

  14.' Tanya says:

    Thank you for this encouraging post. I am also following a Tibetan medicine course and practicing yoga for my fibro condition.
    Wanted to know, did you take the Ayurveda and Tibetan course simultaneously?

  15.' SAHIBA says:

    Hi this is a beautiful story and very encouraging. I am facing something similar. So if you see my message or any one else please please provide me Dr. Yeshi’s Contact. I am not able to reach out on the numbers provided on website.

    PLEASE MESSAGE Dr. Yeshi No. at


  16. Diet is key to All Illnesses!’s either healing or killing you! Try eating a good clean wholesome diet, full of anti-inflammatory foods and just see if the soreness and pain subsides!

  17. Its a decent read so when you can sit and get into it. Blanca Catheline Nunez

  18. Ann Godbey Ann Godbey says:

    Amy Collier-Steinle

  19. Neil S Clark Neil S Clark says:

    I also enjoy 11/10 pain, I find that pain killers are unbearable, they reduce the pain to 10/10. You need to love the pain like I do, be bold, walk like a soldier the Qubar doctor said. I have an Autoimmune disorder also – A bit like Chronic Fatigue mixed with Autism and the fear of others – in a melting pot, stirred anticlockwise – because I live in the other hemisphere – Antartica North. I am enjoying winter at the moment. With hypertherma I feel no pain, it isn’t possible, but don’t enjoy it for too long I suggest. NZ$

  20. Nancy Gladwin!!care for yourself momma!

  21.' itishree says:

    Hello barbra ..i read your healing story .i am having same problem vaat imblance i need d medication your talking about how can i get can i connect to you i have tried those link are not working..

  22.' itishree says:

    Sry barbara this is my right email address below..

  23.' Gavneet Kaur says:

    Mam I HV fibro science 7 years nothing working good. For me m always in pain back shoulders HV lost job married want to get out of it plz suggest wat works

  24.' lucas says:


    Aiden Lucas
    I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia for 3 years, and it was very painful some days. I was taken methocarbamol to relieve the pain. Sometimes it helps and other days it doesn’t. it was killing me for 3 years, doctor said there was no cure. So I tried to live with it and it wasn’t easy.My childhood friend introduced me to Dr George (Good health herbs home),Dr George fibromyalgia herbal remedy cured me within 6 weeks of usage ,am fibromyalgia free now 100%.

  25.' Kate says:

    How to buy Dr. George formula- nothing on google. Whats in it?

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