Chronic Illness – Fibromyalgia

This is a subject that I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time. I’ve planned videos on it, but never follow through with filming, because I want my YouTube channel and blog to be my little happy places on the internet. Places for me to post about things that I’ve done, places I’ve been, things that I’ve bought or new things that I’ve discovered. However, it is impossible for me to continue to share these parts of my life and yet hide this other, very important side…and why should I?! Fibromyalgia affects me on a daily basis, and although it doesn’t define me, it is a part of my life, and who I am right now….and who I am right now is what influences this blog.

So with that in mind, I thought that I’d explain a little about what Fibromyalgia is, how it can affect you, and what living with Fibromyalgia looks like for me. It’s not the most commonly known of chronic illnesses, nor is it one of the better understood ones, so I hope that someone can find this post helpful.

Please remember that I am not a medical expert, and this post is purely based on my own experience. If you want expert information on Fibromyalgia, visit fmauk.org , and if you recognise these symptoms in yourself or someone you know, then consult with a GP. 

What is Fibromyalgia?

Fibromyalgia is a chronic illness which causes widespread pain and intense exhaustion.It can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. It isn’t something that you are born with, and the actual cause of it may not be immediately obvious, but for many, a period of prolonged illness, or trauma, can trigger the onset.

What are the symptoms? 

Everyone’s experience with Fibromyalgia is different, but the two identifying characteristics of the illness are generally experienced by all patients:- widespread pain and intense fatigue, no matter how much rest and sleep is had. Along with these, people can experience all of (as is true for me), or combination of other symptoms, including: headaches/migraines, digestive upset, rashes/allergies, light/sound sensitivity and dizziness. As is the case with myself, it can also present itself alongside bad anxiety disorders. It is important to note that this list isn’t exhaustive. 

Is there a cure?

In a word, no. As of yet, there is no medical cure for Fibromyalgia. In fact, even help to manage the illness is fairly limited. On the medication side of things, there really isn’t much available. There are a couple of pills which may or may not help you to manage the condition better. However, everyone is different, and what works for some, doesn’t work for others. Another problem with medication is that they are normally an anti-depressant type drug, which may not be able to be taken if you are already on an anti-depressant. 

Other ‘treatment’ paths include a GP referral to the Rheumatologist, chronic pain clinic, CBT or physiotherapist. As with the drugs though, there is no guarantee that these will help. Each person just needs to explore all their options until they find the one which works best for them.

How does Fibromyalgia affect me?

For me, Fibromyalgia has many symptoms…almost all of those associated with the illness in fact. An average day for me cannot involve a lot of activity, otherwise I suffer the consequences for weeks afterwards. Even a simple trip to a few shops and having a browse will make me feel sick, dizzy and faint. I never wake up in the morning feeling like I’ve had a good nights sleep, despite having slept for 11-13hrs. So you can imagine that normal activities are difficult for me to participate in. 

Most of the time, my appetite is limited and irregular, which doesn’t help with feeling tired and dizzy. Probably related to this also, is the poor cognitive function that I experience most of the time. It makes it difficult to concentrate on anything which, with spending so much time at home, means that I do get very bored. It is also the reason why I don’t post as regularly as I want to, both on here and YouTube.

The pains that I experience are pretty much there all the time too, although on a ‘good day’ they obviously aren’t as debilitating. My hands/wrists, ankles, knees, hips and neck/shoulders are the areas that they affect, although I do also get regular headaches which can turn into migraines.

As I mentioned above, I have an anxiety disorder too which, due to the stress and worry associated with being very anxious, is something that often causes a bad flare up of Fibromyalgia for me. 

Amidst all of this, friendships can be difficult to maintain, and it can be a daunting thing to try to explain to someone who hasn’t had any experience of chronic illness themselves. However, if they really are your friend, they WILL be supportive and understanding. If you need to cancel plans sometimes, or if friends don’t see you for a while, a true friend will understand why, and won’t forget about you, or think badly of you.

So, like I have mentioned at the start, I want my blog to be a happy place, and this post isn’t  me complaining. I simply think that it’s important to speak out about illnesses like this, as sufferers (including myself) often feel like others don’t understand how they feel, and I have even felt like some people think that I’m making it up. Despite such beliefs being quite common, when it comes to something like Fibromyalgia, which cannot be diagnosed via any medical test, any sufferer will tell you that symptoms are 100% real. It is very much a physical condition, NOT a psychological disorder, despite having strong connections to anxiety and the like. The mental aspect acts as a catalyst to exacerbate the physical symptoms of Fibromyalgia, the condition itself is not a mental issue.

With all that said, I have found ways to still enjoy some of my hobbies. Digital art is a massive one for me at the minute. I would normally have used graphite pencil to draw, but I find that difficult now, and so I use a graphics tablet instead.

My latest animal drawing.

 So, if you have also found yourself dropping away from things that you were once able to enjoy, due to illness, I would urge you to explore all avenues before giving up. Perhaps you can find an alternative platform or method which is easier for you to use.

Having a chronic illness, doesn’t mean that you can’t participate in, and enjoy, life any longer, it’s just a matter of knowing your limits, and finding ways to manage your illness, whilst still enjoying the things you love. Granted, there won’t be a solution for everything, and sometimes you will need to make choices, but your health is most important. In making those choices, you are choosing to move on, and to enjoy everything else that life still has to offer!

Feel free to comment and discuss your own experiences. I would ask that everyone is respectful and understanding to each other’s experiences.

Until next time guys!

 

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