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Why I'm Excited When Celebrities Talk About Their Chronic Illnesses

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Recently a few celebrities have been coming out and talking about their battles with chronic illness. Two such instances are Lady Gaga with fibromyalgia and Selena Gomez with lupus. I got so excited when I heard about their battles, not that I want them to have these horrible illnesses, but because they were brave enough to come out and talk
about such a personal thing with the whole world. This is something I believe we of the chronic illness community are in desperate need of. We need awareness and recognition, we need validation and understanding. I think Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez can really achieve what we writers of The Mighty try our hardest to do with every article we write.

I write all these articles and have published a book of poetry so I can spread awareness about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and Chiari malformation. I write a blog
so I can spread awareness about chronic illness in general and what it is like living day to day with such horrible symptoms. I have spread little awareness, mostly to people who I interact with on a daily basis, people who already know what my life is like to some degree. I have sold very few poetry books and not many people read my blog. I write these articles and hope they reach a wider audience. I hope somehow by doing all these things I am making at least a little difference in the world, but to be frank, I know my work usually doesn’t spread the amount of awareness that the chronic illness community truly needs.

This brings me to Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez, as well as any other famous person who is willing to discuss their chronic illnesses. Both Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez are major celebrities who have massive followings. By talking about their battle with chronic illness they are reaching that wide audience that as much as we all try, we alone cannot reach. Lady Gaga is coming out with a documentary on Netflix about her battle with chronic pain very soon called “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” and I am hoping that many people will watch it — people who have never heard of her illness, fibromyalgia, or other chronic illnesses. I am hoping that the film will spread awareness and maybe bring understanding about the horrors of living with chronic pain. I want people to recognize that chronic illness and pain is often hidden and that we can never really tell who is dealing with them.

We desperately need for chronic illness to be destigmatized and Lady Gaga could provide a very important step towards doing so. Selena Gomez recently shared that she had a kidney transplant — by sharing this with her fans she is giving them a tiny glimpse into the horrible things that people with chronic illness have to go through. Many of us have to have surgeries to save our lives, or at the very least give us a better quality of life.

I want to personally and genuinely thank Lady Gaga and Selena Gomez for being brave enough to share their most intimate personal problems. It is hard to show the whole world your weakest and sometimes most humiliating moments, and this is why it is so important to do it — so people no longer feel humiliated when they have to do things differently due to various chronic illnesses. We are in dire need of empathy and understanding. Lady Gaga’s story has really touched me on a personal level because as a teenager (and even to this day), every time I had to see my Chiari neurosurgeon down in Long Island (four hours away), I would listen to Lady Gaga all the way there, feeling alone in my battle — not knowing that Lady Gaga herself was going through a battle of her own, not knowing we were kindred spirits.

I want to take a moment to thank every single person who has written an article for The Mighty. You are all brave for sharing your stories and are all doing a very important thing. Keep writing and keep sharing.

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Originally published: September 14, 2017
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