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Thanks to Lady Gaga, I No Longer Feel Ashamed to Say I'm in Pain

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Many celebrities have been coming out about their chronic diseases and how it’s been affecting them in their daily lives. From Lady Gaga to Selena Gomez, these people have given me the courage to speak out to loved ones and acquaintances about how my body actually feels at that moment. How it’s not that people don’t want to know, they just don’t know.

When I was diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis at the age of 15, I always felt as if I was a burden to people around me – my friends, family, teachers and peers. I felt as if I was only paid attention to when I was in a hospital bed, truth be told. I hated it. I was always in pain from walking up a step, speed walking to my next class and even laying down. But yet I never told anyone because I was always scared. I’d notice myself tell the nurse that on a scale from one to 10, the highest I’ve ever given was an eight. I never wanted to say 10 because I was truly scared to say I felt a 10. To this day, at the age of 25, I’m still scared. I’m scared to let my work know it’s been hard for me to get out of bed even though I slept eight hours, how little stressors can trigger anxiety and how I prefer to stay at my desk to rest than constantly get up to talk to colleagues.

After seeing posts from Selena Gomez and Sarah Hyland addressing their condition in public, I was inspired and given the courage to speak up more. Which was why I wrote an article about how I ran a half marathon with my condition. Now Lady Gaga has given me the strength to speak up and let it be known that just because I look healthy doesn’t mean I’m not in pain. After watching her documentary “Gaga: Five Foot Two,” I felt extremely empowered. She let cameras into her life at her most vulnerable moments. I’m not talking about her relationship or career, I mean her health. The part we fail to look at when idolizing an artist. As I saw her crying in pain, I started crying because I’ve felt that pain before but I felt ashamed for feeling it. But here’s a strong, successful woman with this condition who is not ashamed. Who doesn’t let it stop her from being the beautiful woman she is, in and out.

For that I say thank you, Lady Gaga. For 10 years I have been scared to let my boyfriend, mom, friends and everyone around me know that, “Hey, I’m feeling some chronic fatigue and it feels a bit rough today,” or even “I’m going to have to stay in this week to recharge my body.” Why I felt such a connection with Lady Gaga is because she’s doing so much with her life, which is why people accused her of lying and faking her fibromyalgia. I work full-time and I am a part-time student, in a strong committed relationship, a compassionate friend, loving daughter, athlete, runner, dog mom and more. Because of all those things I listed, which I’m incredibly proud of, I was scared to tell people I’m in pain, that I’m feeling fatigue. But thanks to Lady Gaga, I no longer am.

It’s possible to have a chronic disease but also be your best self. And she helped remind me that even if you’re in pain and feel vulnerable, you’re the strongest monster you’ll ever know.

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Originally published: October 9, 2017
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