When I tell people I have fibromyalgia, they are often surprised at first. They struggle to match up the person in front of them, the person they know, with the image of fibromyalgia they may have in their mind. I work a full-time job, have an active blog and social media presence and seem to have great times with my friend or boyfriend on the weekend. I have big goals and aspirations which I’m working to achieve. How can someone really be ill and achieve this? The answer? With a lot of hard work and sacrifice.
I have never been good at relaxing. I’m always busy, before the fibromyalgia even more so. I went to uni full time, I went out with friends regularly and was horse riding an hour a week while walking to university almost every day. Then I broke my spine in an accident. Even after that I was still passing my classes with high marks around physiotherapy and spinal braces, and I went on a trip to Athens. I was doing fine, or at least that was how I portrayed myself to others. They didn’t see insomnia, the stomach troubles from being on so much pain medication, the chunks of Athens I missed curled up in bed on high dose painkillers.
I’ve become very good at acting like I’m fine, despite the sleep disturbance, the regular checkups and the nights writhing in pain. Why, you ask? Why put myself through the fight or trying to appear normal every day? Because whenever I’ve let someone in they have formed an opinion, based on all the things I can’t do rather than what I can. They don’t see the degree I got a year after the accident, the career I’m building or the blog I’m creating.
Would I like to be able to spend my days in bed when my bones ache? Of course I would. But, for me, it’s not an option; rent and bills need to be paid, so I find ways to cope. I have a hot water bottle with me at work, I try and work out when I’m about to flare and give myself some self-care, and I have early nights when I can.
Am I perfect? Of course not, but I’m trying. I am trying so hard not to be defined by an idea of what fibromyalgia is, a stereotype of someone who cannot do anything and has given up hope. This is not what life is for 99 percent of us. We try every day, whether that means for some of us going to the office, for others raising children or some of us just getting out of bed. We work hard every day in different ways. I may not “look” like I’m struggling, but I’m a fibro fighter every day.