I am one of the many faces of fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is a disease that affects three to six million people. Women make up the majority of the people who are affected by this disease. Fibromyalgia literally means “muscle pain”, which describes every moment of my day.
I have widespread pain. It is the first thing I feel in the morning and the last thing I feel when I fall asleep. The only thing that varies is the degree of pain from one moment to the next. The pain is aching; the pain is gnawing. The pain becomes a distraction to the everyday activities in my life. I take pain medications to lessen the severity of the fibromyalgia symptoms. When the pain medication doesn’t work, I can only concentrate on trying to relieve the pain. The uncontrollable pain is like having an itch that you can’t reach in order to scratch it. You try to do everything possible to get rid of the pain and when it doesn’t go away, it is maddening. The pain takes the forefront in my mind and I am powerless to stop it.
I have tried the current medications aimed at treating fibromyalgia. The medications work. It calmed the constant gnawing pain. I stopped the medication after being on it about a year. I gained about twenty-five pounds in about eight months. This medication made me feel ravenously hungry all the time. I would overeat because I wouldn’t feel full, which led to the weight gain. The weight gain led to even more stress and anxiety, as my favorite pair of jeans got snug and then finally wouldn’t button. A pair of jeans, plus the added stress and anxiety of the situation with constant, gnawing pain would turn into a depressing state.
Fibromyalgia takes a toll on my mental health. It is exhausting to wake up expecting to be in pain. Fibromyalgia can change your view of life if you allow it to take control of who you are. There have been days where I’ve felt defeated and wanted to give up. It feels overwhelming on those days where you can’t get ahead of treating the pain. There have been many days where I wanted to be out living life with my friends and family, but I couldn’t be a part because of pain. I get extremely frustrated to remember what I felt like ten or fifteen years ago when I was pain free. I just have to remember that I do have good days, and the good days are enough to keep me positive and striving toward the future.
I am still figuring out life with fibromyalgia. I’m figuring out what works and manages the pain and what things exacerbate my symptoms. I have joined in some online support group discussions and I’m learning. I’m trying to manage some of the symptoms through eating healthier and through low impact exercise. I am reminded how fragile life is each morning when I wake up with intense morning stiffness, but I am thankful for the ability to be active and give fibromyalgia a fight each and every day.