Fibromyalgia: Invisible Warriors of Invisible Illnesses

Fibromyalgia: Invisible Warriors of Invisible Illnesses

I am a lawyer who works with a NGO and lives near Delhi. I suffer from a chronic pain condition called Fibromyalgia that has symptoms like widespread pain, chronic fatigue, sleep disturbances, cognitive problems, and myriad other debilitating symptoms. It is an illness. This means it is not detectable by looking at me.

Moreover, diagnostic tests like blood tests, scans, imaging methods etc., can’t detect Fibromyalgia. It’s a diagnosis by elimination, meaning that if a person has these symptoms but the rest of the illnesses are ruled out, they are diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.

Though there is the diagnosis is usually made by a neurologist or rheumatologist. There is very awareness about Fibromyalgia despite the fact that percent of people might be affected by it. The expression Fibromyalgia means pain in muscles and fibrous tissues (ligaments and tendons ).” I also have.

My tryst with Fibromyalgia started with aches and pains . For three decades, I ran to meet with doctor. My weight was blamed by some. Some others said that it’s all in my head. Others told me that I am fine and there’s absolutely no reason for the pain. I was disbelieved and ridiculed.

I was terrified and in grief. I had reached a state where I’d spend my entire weekend in bed. I had to quit because I could not handle long working hours and the work stress. Around that time, I finally went to see a neurologist. I was sent by him for a diagnostic test in which impulses are sent by them . He did not warn me about the test. I had gone alone and did not have anyone with me. I nearly fainted from the pain. Following the report, he told me that I have Fibromyalgia. I felt slightly relieved that I have a diagnosis, but it was short lived. He did not prescribe me any medicine nor told me anything about the illness. He told me to go and read on the internet about it. I dejected and became even more fearful. I lived away from family. I had been diagnosed with a illness with no guidance about managing it.

The reality is that there is lack of awareness about conditions like Fibromyalgia among the medical community. Even lesser can be expected from the public. People gossiped I don’t look sick. Some said that I couldn’t deal with a job. My life, my home, my job, my connection. I slid into depression.

With time, I’ve learnt to manage my illness. I have. I take supplements and drugs. I exercise and have a social life. It took me years to have the ability to lift my head . I hold a job that I am proud of.

I suffer from feelings of self-blame and guilt. I always remind myself that I’m not weak. In actuality, it takes strength to rebuild your life with an illness. I’ve set up a support group for people with Fibromyalgia. I wish to spread more awareness about this harrowing health condition which may not kill anybody, but substantively impacts the quality of life of those who struggle it. Some of us lose jobs, some lose family and all of us lose a little bit of ourselves. I still think of days before me struck and wish I could live like that. However, where I get to perform meaningful work I’ve learnt to find peace.

Our illnesses are imperceptible. We keep quiet and put up a brave face to prevent hatred, ridicule and discrimination. We shouldn’t need to. We should be able to talk about our adventures. We need not be invisible. Let’s hope that nobody needs to feel like this woman or help. Let’s hope that we do not have to run around to have a diagnosis. Let us all talk up and spread awareness about illnesses that are invisible. Offer a helping hand or just some kindness and understanding to them, if you know someone who suffers from one. We are the warriors.

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