Coping With Fibromyalgia as a Teenager
I have struggled with chronic pain for more than a year now. For a long time the doctors conducted countless tests hoping that I had something curable, but in the end, there was only one diagnosis they could give me. January of 2018 I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia. After a year of wondering what was wrong with me it was relieving to know what it was, what I was fighting. Still, being diagnosed with a chronic illness is devastating to say the least. My whole life was different. I was depressed, anxious and in pain. I had to learn to live again.
My Fibromyalgia Symptoms
Fibromyalgia has more than 100 potential symptoms that often fluctuate throughout the year. The most well-known symptom is wide spread body pain. These pains can range anywhere in between mild to excruciating pain. I often am extremely fatigued accompanied by my neck swelling (Phantom lymphadenopathy). I also experience some mental symptoms. I have depression, anxiety and sometimes “brain fog”. Brain fog is a symptom characterized by an inability to concentrate think and even form sentences. I recently started taking Duloxetine for my anxiety and pain, but it doesn’t address any other of my symptoms. It works well for me but, I do still have frequent flare-ups.
Learning my New Limits
Having my first flare up was like being thrust into a new body, with new strengths, weaknesses and limits that I had to realize. One thing I had to learn is that I must be careful not to overwork myself because it may trigger a flare up. Also, if I’m even just having a minor flare-up I need to completely rest for at least a day as to not run the risk of it getting worse. That was extremely hard for me to get used to as I am a very active person who loves being busy all the time. Having to stay in bed all day even when I’m not too tired, is torture. Sometimes I do ignore my body’s warning signs to have fun, but despite that, since I’ve accepted my new limits, the amount of flare ups I have has significantly decreased.
Dealing with Failure
I was an average student before my fibromyalgia showed its ugly head. I take pride in all my work and seeing my grades fall more and more every day, was devastating. My inbox was always flooded with what needed to be done and concerned teachers. At one point I had a severe flare up so long that afterwards I had over 50 emails waiting for me. This gave me horrible anxiety around work and specifically emails. This new anxiety also came with a feeling of failure and inadequacy. To cope with these new feelings, I learned to live in the present, not the past. I have been and will always be hard on myself but, not for the past anymore. I have decided that I’m going to push myself today, instead of beating myself up for yesterday. The past cannot be changed, if I’m going to do something it must be now.
Some days the pain kept me in bed and other days my depression holds me down. Sometimes getting up just feels futile, I’d just end up in bed anyways. Often, I’ve fallen into deep depressions where for months at a time, I won’t shower, I rarely leave my house or even my bed and I push others away. After I started seeing my chronic pain therapist I’ve had less depressed episodes, but I still decided I needed to take initiative and improve my life condition. I made the decision to focus on my progress, no matter how small. I started appreciating the days that I simply get out of bed or took a shower. Now even when I haven’t done anything I consider productive I can feel good because I managed to take care of myself.
Living with fibromyalgia is hard especially when your symptoms first start to get bad at any time in your life. You must figure out your limits, learn to be positive and keep moving forward. Even though it can be difficult to get used to, you can do it, it just takes time. I'm still learning new things bout my condition everyday but, I know I have improved so much and will continue to improve.
© 2018 Deianira