lady gaga

Lady Gaga has been open about her struggle with chronic pain, though she hasn’t always been clear about the exact causes of her pain. But today, she finally revealed her diagnosis: fibromyalgia.

Gaga posted a tweet confirming that fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that causes widespread pain, fatigue and brain fog, is the source of her chronic pain. Her struggle with the condition will be shown in her new Netflix documentary “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” which begins streaming on September 22.

“I wish to help raise awareness & connect people who have it,” Gaga wrote.

Others with fibromyalgia expressed their reactions on Twitter, with many thanking Gaga for opening up a conversation and others asking how she deals with the pain while still remaining physically active.

Previously, Gaga has said she tested “borderline positive” for lupus and that she dealt with chronic pain after breaking her hip.

At a press conference before the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last week, Gaga explained that it was “hard, but liberating” to document her chronic pain, and said she believes pain is a “microphone.”

“My pain does me no good unless I transform it into something that is. So I hope people watching it who do struggle with chronic pain know that they’re not alone. It’s freeing for me… and I want people that struggle with it to hear me,” Gaga said.

She also acknowledged the “self-deprecation and shame” involved with pain, and that people may not believe she is really struggling.

“I want people that watch it — that think there’s no way I live [with chronic pain] because they see me dance and sing and don’t think that could possibly be — to know I struggle with things like them,” Gaga said. I work through it and it can be done. We have to stick together. I don’t have to hide it because I’m afraid it’s weak. It’s a part of me.”

Photo courtesy of Lady Gaga’s Facebook page


All sorts of things can go wrong with these bodies of ours. But still I feel somewhat embarrassed that I can’t sit down.

It’s not easy to explain to others, especially since neither I nor the doctors know the exact cause of the problem. I have had fibromyalgia for 24 years, and I fractured a mid-back vertebra (T12) falling from a horse 14 years ago. Since then, I have had varying degrees of nerve pain in my hips, which would come and go. But the past five years it has been intense and unrelenting. It seems to have been triggered during a year when I was underweight and lacked sufficient padding. But despite gaining weight since then, it has not diminished.

I have lived with a problem knee for most of my life, and expected I might lose my ability to walk, or at least to walk with ease. But I never imagined I’d lose the ability to sit. So often this affliction seems surreal, absurd.

Of course, embarrassment and the absurdity of it are the least of my issues. As you can imagine, my activities are severely curtailed. These past several years I have not traveled, attended a meeting or movie, nor any other sort of event. Occasionally I’ll go out for a short lunch or coffee with friends. But I must sit on a special cushion and clench my glutes the whole time to minimize the pain. It hardly makes for a leisurely outing.

Due to my knee problem, time standing or walking is limited, too. So between these afflictions, I am unable to work. I do my best to take care of the housework and cooking and run short errands for my husband and myself. But most of the day I’m supine on the sofa or bed, online or reading, meditating or just being. I recline on special air cushions, but still must shift and turn every 10 minutes or so to manage the pain. Although the pain is focused in the sitting bones, it is also active in my lower back, thighs and every other part of my hips. The days often seem very long.

Pain — it should be so simple to treat, or at least mask over. Give it time, take medication, try acupuncture, electrical stimulation, massage, etc. Of course, I’ve done all that, and nothing touches it. I put most of my faith in time, but at this point — five years in — I am accepting that this may be my lot for the rest of this body’s life. I’m 54, which is not so young, but thoughts of another 30 or forty 40 like this are often distressing, frustrating and depressing.

I know I am not alone. No one wants pain or disability. But we have what we have. I have not given up hope that somehow, someday this problem will diminish or resolve. But I am at the point where I also must accept that this is where I am right now, with no foreseeable end in sight, and do my best to shift my attention to appreciate all that is good in my life.

The first thing I can do is release the shame of having an unusual condition with no sound explanation, and the guilt of not being able to participate in life as I once did. Bodies do what they do, I did not cause or ask for this. And I am replacing old values with new, narrowing them down to what really matters each day for me: learning and loving. I have certainly learned a lot from this ordeal, most importantly compassion and patience, both with myself and others. And I continue to explore and learn something new each day. I have especially enjoyed spiritual exploration, which both intrigues and comforts me. And nothing can stop me from loving.

I love my husband, cat, my few friends and family members. And I love the world. I just can’t judge anyone anymore. I know we all struggle, and I love and admire all of us for that. Because I can’t get out and be of service as I’d like to, I spend a lot of time praying for or sending loving vibes to whomever comes to mind, whether it’s a close friend, someone I hear about in the news, our country or the whole world.

Someday I may sit up again with comfort. That would be glorious. I often dream of this, both in sleep and waking life. But this vision is beginning to seem less and less likely ever to arrive. That will be OK, too, as it must be, should reality offer me no other option. And so I will continue to toss and turn, and love and learn. As long as I can do that, this is still a beautiful life.

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Thinkstock Image By: ladi59

Before I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, whenever I saw articles telling me how to take care of myself and to practice self-care, I would roll my eyes and move on without reading the advice. Since my diagnosis, I’ve been more open to understanding how I can make my life easier and more enjoyable, but I don’t want to hear about airy-fairy ideas – I want practical ways I can take better care of myself.

When you have a chronic illness, it can be difficult to see the positive sides of life. In the middle of a flare, being battered by chronic pain and fatigue, it’s hard to see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. When you can’t even stand for long enough to cook your favorite meal, thinking about getting out and doing something you enjoy can be quite unrealistic.

In terms of treatment, a multi-pronged attack can be the best way to target fibromyalgia and make it somewhat bearable.


Over the past 12 months, I have been feeling better in myself – less pain, less fatigue – but a flare can strike at any time, and if you’re feeling stressed, it can rear its ugly head to make your life even harder. At times like this, I turn to self-care.

Taking pleasure in the little things is the key to practicing self-care. It’s a state of mind, rather than a short-term goal. Just switching off for five minutes and focusing on your breathing can work wonders for your state of mind.

Something happened to me recently that I’m not quite ready to talk about yet, but it has affected me in so many ways. I can’t sleep properly – despite the amitriptyline, the medication I’m on for fibromyalgia – and my appetite is non-existent. I’m no longer interested in doing anything. And, of course, the stress has caused the fibromyalgia to flare up, causing me pain and extra fatigue (as if I wasn’t already tired enough).

To get through this time, I’m trying to focus on the little things.

Instead of staring blankly at my phone during my lunch break, I read a book or listen to an audiobook. Since I blog about books (amongst other things), reading is one of my favorite things to do, but I’ve been finding it difficult to concentrate at times. Putting my phone away and getting a book out is a deliberate act, as if I’m trying to remind myself I do love reading. I always feel better afterwards.

I’ve been watching a lot of great TV recently – “Game of Thrones,” “Poldark,” “Nashville” – but during this flare, I haven’t been interested in watching anything. It’s easy to think, what’s the point, but the point is you have to take care of yourself, even if it means carving out an hour of your evening to watch your favorite show. It’s such a simple thing, but it means, for that hour, your mind is elsewhere, with the fictional characters on the screen.

My home is a great comfort to me.

Hygge is a state of mind, not just a fashion statement, and it complements self-care wonderfully. My house is full of books and art and games, photographs and snuggly throws and cats. It’s a safe haven. I bought a diffuser, often light candles and draw the curtains against the darkening evenings. We recently bought the Philips Hue light bulbs that connect with Alexa, and often pick a scene with soft colors for the living room – light pinks, cool blues, warm reds. When you’re curled up on the sofa in pain – mentally or physically, or both – it can be hard to care about anything, but I find that setting the scene can really lift my mood. I always try to sit down with a cup of tea before heading to bed, and spend some time reading, or chatting to my partner, or playing with the cats.

Sometimes, you need to get out of your head, but other times, you need to get into it. I don’t have trouble falling asleep, but I have been waking up in the early hours of the morning. Instead of getting frustrated and upset, I try to focus on my breathing, slowing it down, and clearing my mind. I find it helps me get back to sleep easier, and I stay asleep until my alarm goes off. Taking five minutes to just breathe can make a huge difference.

If you, like me, work full-time, your mind can be full of things to do – meetings, paperwork, solving problems – so it can be hard to find time in your day to turn inwards and focus on yourself. Getting up, taking a short walk (outside, weather permitting!), and enjoying the time away from my desk can prepare me for going back, facing it all again with a fresh mind. If something in particular is bugging me, I take it out with me and turn it over in my mind during my walk. A lot of the time, I come up with a solution, or, at the very least, a better way to approach it.

We love cooking in our house. Fibromyalgia can make it difficult to cook fresh food – after a long day of work, my body is often too tired to chop vegetables and stand in the kitchen. Thankfully, I have a partner who loves cooking too, and will always share the load with me. Between us, we manage to cook fresh, delicious meals a few times a week, always making more to serve as leftovers for another meal. Making sure your diet is as healthy as it can be is another way you can take care of yourself. Just like drinking plenty of water, eating healthy food you love keeps your body happy, and your mind benefits too. I also make it an occasion to enjoy a treat. Rather than stealing opportunities to snack throughout the day, I like to sit down in the evening, or on the weekend, with a delicious cake, and savor it.

Self-care really is about the little things. Taking joy out of small moments in your day – whether that’s receiving a compliment from a colleague, making a rather good cup of tea, hugging your partner or spending an hour with your nose in a good book – can really make a positive impact. Fibromyalgia, and other chronic illnesses, can make an already busy or stressful life that much harder, so I try to focus on finding joy amongst the chaos, and knowing that for every dark period, there’s always a small candle to light your way.

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Thinkstock photo via vladans.

Something misunderstood by people free from a chronic illness, such as fibromyalgia, is that going away on holiday can be exhausting. My husband loves traveling and doing all the tourist things, and when I developed my condition, our daughter was only 12 years old. As a result, I was determined to keep up our pattern of family vacations. Fortunately, my family understands the effort I have made to do this and what it has cost me in health terms, but others do not, and think I can’t be all that unwell if I can go away on holiday. They roll their eyes when I return and say how tired I am. The following is what I would like them to know.

First of all, there is everything to organize before we go. I heave a sigh of relief once we’re in the car, train or airport departure lounge. I’m too tired to help with driving if that’s what we’re doing. I need rest but am too wired with thinking about things to sleep on the journey. When we arrive, I do find that excitement and adrenaline kicks in, which helps me at first. I’m eager to embrace my new surroundings and explore, but how long that continues will depend on the conditions. I have dragged myself, exhausted and in pain, across several European cities. In general, to someone unused to city life, the noise, smells, crowds and over-stimulation are too much. My family have had to leave me sitting in cafes or on benches all over the place, while they carried on exploring. I have been forced to return to the hotel for rest.

Temperatures can be another issue. I am Scottish, so am not used to great heat! I used to love Mediterranean summer vacations for the sunshine and warmth, but no longer. On holiday in Spain, I wasn’t fit for any sightseeing. I spent the days seeking shade or air conditioning. One dip in the pool was enough — I thought it would help, but the contrast of going from extreme heat to freezing water brought on a flare and instant, agonizing pain. Strangely enough, though, two autumn breaks in Iceland suited me well – the cold has a different quality to our damp Scottish climate, and I found it energizing.

In general, however, especially now that our daughter has left home, we are admitting that we need to take things easier and choose quieter destinations. Last month, on what was probably our last holiday as a family, we visited the beautiful city of York. I couldn’t sleep due to the noise of traffic. We had plans which had to be abandoned because I simply wasn’t up to going out. Several days, we ventured out and I had to return to the holiday rental to rest. I’m relieved we had rented a house rather than staying in a hotel, because it meant I could remain in bed in the mornings and return to rest at any time. In the past, I’ve often gone back to hotels to find the room being cleaned.

I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling that I need a holiday after a vacation! Unfortunately, it’s one of those aspects of chronic illness that people don’t understand. We may be accused of whinging – I’ve certainly been met with sarcastic comments. I know we are fortunate if we have the finances and are fit enough in any degree to travel. The change of scene can be refreshing, and it’s a temporary release from work, housework and all those jobs piling up which keep nagging. However, even a healthy person finds difficulty in returning to daily life and demands after a vacation, so it can often be much worse for someone with chronic illness. We may well return from holiday feeling even more fatigued than before we went.

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Thinkstock Image By: seb_ra

Hello, September. For the past week, I’ve been noticing more trees have started shedding their leaves, the golden-browns and reds bursting into life before settling on the grass. The temperature is slowly dropping; the evenings are closing in earlier and earlier. Summer is on its way out.

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons – while I love a bit of sun, I find the heat unbearable at times, thanks to the perimenopausal symptoms caused by my contraception and exacerbated by fibromyalgia. The constant hot flushes and the feeling of overheating can make the summer months – short though they are in England – pretty difficult for someone with a chronic illness. I also have a big problem with staying hydrated during summer, something my GP told me could also be put down to fibromyalgia.


By the end of August, I’m longing for the cooler nights, a brisk breeze, an excuse to wrap up in a blanket. Now we’re finally moving into autumn, my favorite time of the year can begin. Watery afternoon sunlight streaming through the blinds, a chill in the air. One of my favorite things to do is curl up on such a weekend, huddled into a comfy hoodie with a blanket thrown over my lap, and lose myself in a good book. I love the comfort food of the cooler months – beef stew, roast dinners, potato and leek soup. Good, homemade food that warms you from the inside out. I love watching TV dramas on darkening evenings, closing the curtains early and turning on the soft, comforting lamps. I love Halloween, and the run-up to Christmas – all the lights and markets, the Christmas music and the ridiculous jumpers.

But autumn isn’t all fun and games for me. I find it difficult to get out of bed when it’s still dark – maybe that’s just a personality trait, or maybe the combination of my medication and the dark mornings tricks my brain into wanting more sleep. I don’t know. What I do know is the dark mornings seem to last forever, once we move past October and into the depths of winter.

The rainy days can also be a challenge. You know when it feels like it’s been raining nonstop, and the cold seeps into your bones? It makes me more sluggish, less motivated. It just makes me want to stay in bed all day – which isn’t practical for many of us. The colder months also make going out more precarious. Slippery mud, icy paths – one trip and I can put myself back weeks, trigger a horrendous flare.

Each season presents its own challenges when you’re living with a chronic illness. In summer, it can get too hot; in winter, too cold. I know we Brits like to complain about the weather almost as much as we enjoy talking about the perfect cup of tea or queuing, but, just like most other aspects of life, living with a chronic illness can make things that little bit harder. The pain and fatigue fibromyalgia is known for can be worse when the weather starts to turn. Just as you feel like you’re getting used to the heat or the cold, the seasons change. It’s like a constant feeling of adapting to your surroundings, but you never fully get there.

Living with any kind of chronic illness always involves adjustment, whether it’s making changes to your home to make life easier, or introducing different foods into your diet, or just arming yourself with the things you need, and as we move out of summer and towards winter, I’ll need to start preparing, like a bear preparing for hibernation. Many people don’t understand these rituals we have to complete, in order to continue functioning as a “normal” human being, but we always seem to manage it, and, before we know it, spring will be around the corner.

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Thinkstock photo via Comstock.

It’s 7:30 p.m. on a Friday night, and I’m in bed. With my husband and dogs right beside me. Nothing new here, and honestly, most of our friends are probably doing the same thing, but I really wouldn’t know.

It wasn’t the diagnosis, or even the pain really, that caused me to start avoiding party invites and happy hour texts from my girlfriends. I don’t really remember when I started drifting so far away, but I have recently realized that I miss my friends. And my sisters and brothers. And my former colleagues. I miss talking to people. I truly miss laughing out loud with my girlfriends. I even miss seeing how handsome and stunning my husband is when he’s in a crowd.

But, as for my friends and out families that we rarely see anymore, I do wonder what they think. I assume they think my husband and I (married three years in December) are still in the honeymoon phase, that our kids keep us very busy, or they may not think twice about it. But, I bet they haven’t thought for a second that I have avoided pretty much every opportunity to see them that there has been the last couple of years.

I’ve cancelled or just not shown up, I’ve postponed or used my typical, “maybe,” or, “probably,” responses, which they’ve all figured out is the same as a “no.” And, when I have made it to dinner or lunch, I had probably been a nervous wreck and even considered canceling the day before.

The truth is that I’m not a good faker anymore. I hurt. More often than not lately, I hurt. Something always hurts. And, because I’m not great at pretending like I feel great these days, I’ve made the choice to let everyone I love think that I’m just really busy and head over heels in love, and that they are the ones that don’t fit into my schedule anymore. And, that’s not true at all… so far from true.

I feel stuck, and I’ve never been comfortable admitting it until now. I don’t want to pretend that I am just fine anymore. But, I don’t want to moan and groan, or for people to worry or feel sorry or pity me. I don’t want to overpower the conversation when someone asks how I’ve been feeling, because I could talk all night. But, geez, I really do want to talk sometimes.

In all honestly, I have always been the person in my many circles that organized the get-togethers, ensured the girls free drinks from the bars that we would close down, and throw my nieces and nephews the best Christmas parties ever.

And, it sucks not being able to be that person anymore. It sucks to not even have the energy to go to dinner, let alone host one. Fibro sucks.  So, if I’m being honest, I don’t feel like my old self at all. And, I guess I’m a little afraid that my friends and family may not enjoy my company anymore, that I may not be as funny as they expect me to be, or as good at conversation as I once was. I definitely won’t close the bar down if I even make it. But, I guess I should tell them that. Because, as I write this I’ve realized that if I was them, I’d want to know.

So, here it goes. I miss you, all of you. And, I’m sorry for the excuses. Instead of reaching out to you when I’ve needed you most, I’ve hidden from you, and even lied to you. I’m sorry. And, if I am ever going to find myself again, I need you. So, from now on, I’ll be honest and tell you when I just don’t feel like putting a bra on to leave the house. And, maybe instead of canceling or postponing, you can just stop by. I’d love to see you. I would really love that.

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Thinkstock Image By: Goldfinch4ever

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