After years of struggles and not knowing what was wrong, I was officially diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in 2022. It’s a tricky and complex condition, which shares symptoms of other conditions and chronic fatigue syndromes, such as ME, hence why it took so long to pinpoint. But, being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia is a difficult thing too, as the condition covers such a vast area of issues. It’s like a catch 22 of constantly being in pain but not knowing how to fix it.
“Treatment is available to ease some of the symptoms, although it's unlikely they'll ever disappear completely.” - NHS
I truly believe that even though fibromyalgia is a frustrating thing to live with, it shouldn’t force us to let go of our creative dreams. In fact, despite everything, there are countless success stories from people who experience the condition. Being part of community groups/forums and learning about how other people deal with the condition has helped me A LOT!
Here are three stories of people in the spotlight who struggle with Fibro too:
Lady Gaga may be the highest profile artist on this list, but it’s not just her chart success and album sales that inspire us (I LOVE her music soo much, what an inspiration!). It’s her continued dedication to her own artistic ideals, her commitment to trying new things within the often reductive world of mainstream pop, inspiring a generation of new artists to do the same.
Acknowledging her condition in the press and seeking to spread awareness of it, it was an important facet of her 2017 documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two. I found this to be such a raw and real look into her world, I really felt the pain she was struggling with. She’s since gone on to win an academy award, and added 7 more Grammys to her cumulative total of 13.
O’Connor (now going by the name Shuhada' Sadaqat after her conversion to Islam), has never failed to make the headlines for her brutal honesty when talking about issues important to her. But we can’t forget her talents, nor her successes.
She’s spoken at length about health problems both mental and physical, but finds clear comfort in the fact that singing helps her to manage her chronic pain, arguing that it can keep her mind off it, even if for a little while.
Rosie Hamlin would eventually retire from live performance due to her condition, but not after a lifetime of success as frontwoman of Rosie and the Originals. Her hit ‘Angel Baby’ is perennially covered, and in 1961 she was the first woman of Latin American descent to appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand, a hugely popular program in its heyday.
Her 2002 revival tour featured shows at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden, a testament to her impact and continued popularity.
So, what can we take away from this? First, we should appreciate that fibromyalgia is actually very common, in fact some estimates indicate that 1 in 20 people experience fibro to some degree.
Second, while Gaga credits her fantastic doctors for helping to manage her pain, it’s important to note that expensive medical care doesn’t have an exclusive hold on treatment.
The NHS recommends exercise, certain medicines and talking therapies. You can read more about the condition and how you might better manage it on their website.
Personal things that help me include exercise (I’m part of a women’s group where we train twice a week), infrared sauna sessions, routine/8 hours of sleep per night, and somewhat controversial to some, but CBD oil (CBD is a chemical substance found in cannabis that has medical benefits).
I hope these three stories have served as an inspiration, and I’d encourage you not to give up hope on a more comfortable, productive, and artistically creative future. I’m going to start talking more about my fibromyalgia experiences via blog, and I’m happy to answer any questions or help in any way – get in touch here.