What It's Like to Be a Young Person With Fibromyalgia
When I was little, being diagnosed with fibromyalgia when I was 22 wasn’t exactly something I had visualized. As a child I had so many hopes and dreams of what my life would look like, but I never expected this. I remember looking in the mirror and trying to picture my life in 10 years. Sometimes I look back on myself as a child and wish I could help prepare her for what was to come.
I went through a lot as a child, which is undoubtedly what caused my fibromyalgia. I am now carrying the weight that I couldn’t carry as a child. I needed a hero, so that’s what I’ve become.
I was 18 when my symptoms started. I decided to take a year off after high school to work, as many young people do. I worked in a fast food restaurant, and anyone who has experience in that area knows how exhausting it can be. I remember smiling at the customers while my body was shaking uncontrollably from fatigue. I begged my manager to let me have another break because I might faint. I remember trying not to throw up as I mopped the floors with a huge migraine.
By the time I was studying at university, I quit my job because I just couldn’t function anymore. I went to classes several times a week, as many young people do. I had to attend lengthy practical classes. One minute I was looking under the microscope, and the next minute I had collapsed from pure exhaustion. I had to be excused from classes several times, sometimes in tears, because I was so fatigued.
Then the pain started. I remember sitting on the floor in my room being in so much pain that I could barely move. I typed up my assignments while sitting in bed, barely even able to lift my fingers from the pain. I spent entire days in bed, never leaving the room. There were moments where I felt like I was dying because the pain was so bad and the doctors weren’t able to explain it.
No matter how much pain I was in, or how exhausted I was, I never stopped fighting. I never stopped looking for answers and I never gave up on myself. I graduated from university with a high distinction, then finally received my diagnosis. Things were looking up at last.
I decided to continue my studies and started an honors project, which I’ll be finishing soon. I have to admit, I do have concerns about entering the workforce again. It’s something that I plan on doing, but having fibromyalgia does limit my potential career choices a bit. I hope I find something that’s right for me.
Things have been better since my diagnosis, I’ll admit. Knowing I have fibromyalgia has given me power over it. The demon has a name. Although I’ll never be able to damn this demon back to hell, it sure won’t ever take control over me.
It’s hard to be a young person with fibromyalgia. It’s such a critical time in life where we are still learning about ourselves and trying to figure out where we belong in the world.
Now when I look in the mirror, I see a strong, happy woman. I see someone who has been through a lot, yet continues to move forward with her life no matter what. I see someone who is trying to continuously improve herself as a person. I see someone with purpose, and a strong will to go on. I see a fighter.
I’m not fighting with my fibromyalgia, though. I’m fighting for my happiness. Every day I fight to enjoy my life in spite of my pain. If my younger self could see me now, I know she would be proud of the person I’ve become.
Photo submitted by contributor.