In May we recognize fibromyalgia and all who experience this illness. I happen to be one of those people, and fibromyalgia impacts a big part of my life.
One thing that I often hear from people when I express my symptoms or that I have fibromyalgia is that I am “ too young to be sick.” This is incredibly harmful to hear, because it invalidates what I am experiencing and makes me feel that something must be seriously wrong with me to experience this illness personally. For years I have struggled with pain, fatigue, and what is called “ fibro fog.” I have difficulties concentrating and often find that I sleep for extended periods of time; however, I also experience insomnia and have issues with cold and hot temperatures.
Being undiagnosed for so long was frustrating because I felt like maybe I was making up my symptoms or exaggerating because I didn’t have an answer for them. It may sound strange, but receiving my fibromyalgia diagnosis was a blessing because it gave me an explanation for my symptoms and opened up a variety of treatments that I could try to help me find relief.
However, I have found that while there are treatments available, they generally have only helped to ease some of my symptoms. They have not helped them to completely go away. A lot of the treatment options are also lifestyle modifications, such as eating well, eating specific things, and practicing exercises. I find that it is hard for me to exercise many times because I am in pain, but walking does tend to help me feel more comfortable in my body. Other than that, I experience that rest and heating pads help with a lot of the pain issues. I also believe that some of my anxiety and depression issues are connected to my fibromyalgia, and besides using medications for these conditions, I have found that spirituality and meditation help to some extent. Meditation helps me to be more aware of my inner experience and allows me to connect to my core and my symptoms as they arise.
What I wish people knew about fibromyalgia is that it does not discriminate. Anyone of any age or background can be diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and we all deserve equal care. So many of us suffer in silence because we are invalidated or made to feel that we are making up our symptoms. Having this diagnosis is difficult, but I am happier now being able to have an explanation for my symptoms than I was when I was made to feel like I was making them up.
During the month of May and our recognition of fibromyalgia, my hope is that we can shed light on how painful and difficult this illness can be to live with and manage. Some days I feel like giving up because the pain is so severe, and I struggle a lot with not being able to handle very cold or very warm temperatures. While there are mental aspects to this illness, it is deeply physical, and we all need to be understood for what we are experiencing without being made to feel as though we are making our symptoms up, or without having our symptoms downplayed.
I hope that sharing my story will resonate with you should you also experience fibromyalgia, while also educating others on what this illness is really like. We all need to be heard, and the first step to being heard is sharing our stories. Fibromyalgia is a serious and debilitating illness, and we all deserve care and understanding for the symptoms we live with.