Life can be a real awkward piece of shit sometimes.
I live with a little understood, often invisible, medical conditions. My life is a bit of a rollercoaster. I never know from one week to the next, or even one day to the next, how I will be. But I’m a warrior, a fighter and I try my best to live each day and never give up.
Nineteen years ago I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Six years ago I was diagnosed with a chronic pain condition known as Fibromyalgia. On my health journey, I’ve learned the power of self-care skills to improve my health and well-being.
I’ve had a couple of fairly good weeks, where I have been able to get out and about and keep myself fresh for work. However, this also has its payback and for a few days I’ve been having a lot of pain and a minor depression episode.
My fibromyalgia started 8 years ago. It started with chronic pain in my hands, wrists, and joints. It took 3 years until I could get a diagnosis. In those years, I was told that my symptoms were due to various types of arthritis, depression and, more than once, that they were all in my head. It was a very frustrating time, especially when all the tests and x-rays kept coming back clear.
When I finally did get my diagnosis it was a huge relief to have a name for what I was experiencing. However, that relief was tempered when I soon began to realise that many people do not consider fibromyalgia to be a real illness. If a condition does not have a medical test to confirm it, then that condition does not exist, they believe.
My main fibromyalgia symptoms are severe, widespread pain, chronic fatigue, cognitive dysfunction and memory problems (we call it “fibro fog”), sleep problems and irritable bowel syndrome – but there are many more that affect me to varying degrees. Like many people with fibromyalgia I look much better than I feel – and the condition is often described as an invisible illness for this reason. Because you do not look ill, or there is no obvious cause for the symptoms, people may not believe that you are as ill as you say you are – and this disbelief can come from medical professionals, family and friends, as well as from complete strangers.
Sometimes when the pain in my legs, knees or back is unbearable and I have to walk long distances I use crutches for walking.
With bipolar disorder I experience extreme mood swings and shifts in energy levels.
The symptoms a person experiences will vary depending on the type of bipolar disorder they have and whether they are having a manic or depressive episode.
Fortunately, some of my symptoms are at a manageable level, thanks to a combination of medication, supplements and self-management techniques that I have learned over the years.
I believe that every person with fibromyalgia and bipolar disorder has their part to play in telling the world about the condition and how it affects us. Each of us has different symptoms and is affected to different degrees – and education and awareness-raising is the way to making others understand what we are going through.
I hope that in the future, the cause of fibromyalgia will be known and there will be effective treatments. At the moment symptoms are treated individually, and services depend on where you live. And there are still too many health professionals who are dismissive of the condition.
I also hope that when someone asks what is wrong and I answer, “Fibromyalgia”, I will not get the reply, “Fibro what?”, the same goes with Bipolar Disorder.
This is why I created this blog, to educate and inspire others to be skillfully well, even if they have a chronic condition!
So join me while I progress, learn from my mistakes and laugh at my general failings! ❤️