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5 Oddly Specific Metaphors for Fibromyalgia Pain

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Fibromyalgia pain is incredibly unique, specific and difficult to describe to those who do not have this illness. I often find myself feeling invalidated when trying to discuss what I am going through with others, and this just makes me want to isolate more. If you have feelings similar to mine, then this article is for you.

The following are five metaphors for fibromyalgia pain that I have found to be very representative of my own pain, and they have helped others grasp onto how I am feeling. I am here to validate your pain, and I hope the metaphors help you to seek empathy from others in your life.

1. When I am having skin pain, I liken it to having a severe sunburn all over my body.

I barely want to move or have anything touch my skin because it feels so tender. This is one of the worst types of pain that I experience with fibromyalgia. I also tell others that it feels similar to how your skin is sensitive when you have the flu – except this is 10 times worse.

2. When I am having full body pain, it is as if my body is being stretched out and torn muscle by muscle.

This all over pain is the most torturous experience. I feel like I often lose days because I spend the day trying to manage my pain, but sometimes I end up crying because it is so severe. I find that it is painful to move or rest, and not being able to find relief without a lot of effort makes me feel like I am losing time to this illness.

3. Sometimes, I have the sensation that I am being bitten by a million bugs particularly in my legs, feet, arms and hands.

These sensations might feel like the tingles you experience when your foot falls asleep, except the burning and biting make it feel as if bugs are eating away at my
limbs. I often feel like I want to scratch at my legs and arms to get rid of the sensation, but it only seems to make the feeling more intense.

4. I am so sensitive to clothing that everywhere the clothing touches my skin, it feels like being deeply cut with a knife.

One of the most difficult things for me to manage is my aversion to wearing clothing because my body pain is so severe. I often have to wear loose clothing because form fitting clothing is unbearable. Each wrinkle, seam and area where the clothing brushes against my skin feels as though someone is slashing me with a knife.

5. Some days, when I am experience multiple forms of pain at once and all over my body, I feel like a voodoo doll that is being tortured.

This metaphor is probably the best metaphor overall to describe how my fibromyalgia pain is from day to day. I feel as though I am often surprised by how unpredictable and intense some of the pains can be. I have random sharp jolts of pain paired along with extremely sensitive and painful skin. My muscles ache, and on many days the pain makes it difficult to move very much at all. I feel as though someone else is controlling my body and as though it is not my own.

Coming up with these metaphors was heartbreaking for me to confront just how severe my fibromyalgia pain is. However, my hope is that you will be able to either empathize with what I go through or find some validation for yourself if you also have fibromyalgia. The more we share our experiences, the more empathy and understanding we can inspire.

Getty image by Vyacheslav Kozyrev

Originally published: September 28, 2021
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