The Hardest Part of Being a Teenager With Fibromyalgia

I’m 17 and I have fibromyalgia, but most of my 15–19-year-old friends don’t get it. There are so many things that come with having fibromyalgia, but I feel like the hardest part is not being believed.

And I’m not an expert on my condition, I don’t know all the ins and outs. I just know I hurt. It’s so hard to be a senior in high school who can’t attend every school function, and when I do, I’m out for a couple of days. Sometimes I feel like an awful friend because I can’t always follow through with my plans. All because I simply just hurt.

The word “hurt” can have so many different meanings. Hurt for me is like having bruises all over my body, so the tolerance I have for people touching me is very low. It’s like having a sunburn and not being able to move. It’s like having pins and needles all over for long periods of time. Having fibromyalgia feels like the aftermath of a car wreck.

The smallest tasks can cause so much fatigue or exhaustion. I have to take showers at night because it exhausts me so much. After school every day I have to rest, because walking all over campus all day sucks. Walking in the grocery store for an hour can make me feel like I just ran a marathon. I always feel like I’m tired.

Aside from exhaustion, I also deal with “fibro fog” on a daily basis. And I don’t just mean that I forget the date or where I placed my keys, I mean that I forget my phone number, my password, something I wrote down two minutes earlier, etc.

Those are some of the hard parts about fibromyalgia, but like I said, the hardest part for me is not being believed. So many times I’ve heard people say, “If you don’t feel good, go to the doctor” or “Maybe if you got more sleep, you wouldn’t look so exhausted” or “Oh, I’m in a lot of pain, too” or “Is that even a real thing? I heard it’s not.” So my responses are: if a doctor could cure my fibro, I would’ve gone years ago. I sleep every night – nine hours to be exact. I understand you’re in pain and I sympathize with that, but I’m in pain every day. And yes, fibromyalgia is real; I’m not just in pain because I want to be.

I’d like to send out a message to those of you with friends or family with any chronic illness or disease: please do a little bit of research and don’t let them feel like they’re alone. It’s not our fault we have fibromyalgia and it’s definitely not all in our head.

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