Living organisms experience pain. Pain factors are natural stimuli in all creatures, not just humans. Thus it is normal, expected even, to feel pain.
However, it has been found that chronic pain is different. It may not be in the back of a normal person’s head that some people have severe reactions due to some illnesses that cause them to have abnormal amounts of discomfort.
One of these revealed illnesses just happens to be fibromyalgia. The literal translation or definition of this is pain in the muscles, ligaments, and tendons. However, it is so much more that just soreness and irritation. It is an autoimmune disorder that characterizes symptoms in the form of chronic pain and fatigue.
Fibromyalgia affects people not only physically, but also mentally, socially and emotionally. Every person who has this illness has shown differentiated, more personal symptoms that affect them in their personal lives.
Some common symptoms seem to be heightened and constant levels of: anxiety, depression, fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive difficulties, and often times stiffness. They can also have intensified migraines or tension headaches, pelvic pain, irritable bladder and/or bowel syndrome (IBS), and gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD).
Through more research, it has been found that people with Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain illnesses feel as though they are living a “less than” life and guilty that they are insufficient. This leads to difficult times where they do not want to ask for help or they often feel ridiculed in public for having physical tools to benefit them.
This feeling of being less and not wanting to drag too much attention to themselves has affected the personal lives of many patients with fibromyalgia, and this pain will never go away. Chronic pain is a lifelong thing that hurts people in their personal lives and their social lives. It can be hard for people with such anxiety to go out and live comfortably without feeling the weight of question or judgment from prying eyes.
I spoke to a girl with the disease and asked about how it affects her life at such a young age, which is less common among the populations with Fibromyalgia. At age 16, she is in constant pain and nausea, and has even lost her hair, which has taken away her capability to live like a normal teenage girl. She says, “When I went to a play with someone, I was really sick and dizzy, but I still wanted to go to the play. So I brought a cane, but people stared at me so I folded it up and stopped using it just because everyone wouldn’t stop staring at me. It’s kind of uncomfortable to use the accommodations that you kind of need to go out and experience life a bit more when everybody- well I can understand them staring, but it’s hard to constantly be under the microscope and to be so young and look physically healthy and then be using accommodations. It was definitely- it made me very anxious, so I just didn’t use it at all.”
This girl also talks about some support groups that she has on Facebook, a collection of many other people across the States who have the same illness.
The National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association has been working on more research to help search for the cause and medications of Fibromyalgia. On their website, they have dedicated multiple pages to specific things to help bring more of an understanding of the illness, as well as a donation page and a cause that you can join. They also celebrate every year to bring awareness to this issue.
May 12th this year was dedicated to see Fibromyalgia and other chronic pain illnesses that are affecting the lives of about 2% of the American population. That is a large amount of people who are suffering from a disorder alone, and many of them are young people who don’t particularly look unhealthy.
They have done social studies, and having this autoimmune disorder has also been found to possibly cause suicidal thoughts and tendencies, which does not help the general population either.
The 16 year old girl has spoken about her interest in activities pertaining to funding research about learning more on Fibromyalgia and the biological reasons behind it. One of these benefits could be the possible treatment of this harmful disease.
We could also possibly figure out why it is that women more often receive this illness. That is still unknown to us. So please, become a part of this cause and help us to spread the word of this life-changing illness.
Here are some links that can take you to where you may join the cause and help spread the word about chronic pain: