My name is Sarah Cartwright and I am a 19 year old girl from North Wales and I have Fibromyalgia.
I was diagnosed with FM around two years ago but I have had my symptoms since I was 13 so I have had FM for about six or seven years now.
(wow, I didn't realise it was that long!)
The best way I have heard to describe the problems I face with my condition is that I have the mindset of a normal 19 year old girl but my body just won't do what I want it to. This is the most frustrating part. I want to go out partying until the early hours, I want to go shopping all day and blow my wages, I want to be able to work full time and I just want a normal life but my body has other ideas.
First I'll try and explain the severity of my symptoms as Fibromyalgia (FM) can affect people in very different ways from being able to lead a normal life with hardly any problems to being completely crippled with it and having to spend most of their time in bed or in a wheel chair. For me I'm probably smack bang in the middle.
I suffer with chronic severe pain all over my body in my muscles and joints, which never goes away or eases off. So you can try and understand how bad it is I'll list all the places it affects me:
Toes, Heels, Ankles, Shins, Calves, Knees, Thighs, Groins, Hips, Lower Back, Down my Spine, Upper Back, Stomach, Ribs, Chest, Shoulders, Upper Arms, Elbows, Lower Arms, Wrists, Knuckles, Fingers, Neck and Jaw.
So pretty much every part of my body. I have the most pain in my elbows, back and thighs and knees which as you can imagine makes walking and standing very difficult. Any sort of psychical activity will leave me in agony the next day, and yes this includes dancing the night away unfortunately. My symptoms only show half of their severity at the time of activity as they don't come out properly until the next day. This is why a lot of people don't understand how much pain I am in because I can have a dance on a night out, but they don't see me in bed unable to get up the next day. For any normal 19 year old girl shopping is heaven, for me it is a nightmare. The walking, trying to look through clothes, carrying bags and trying on clothes just sounds like a day in bed waiting to happen. So for me I avoid it at all costs and internet shopping has become my life saver. As you can imagine this gets me very down and I do suffer from extreme mood swings, depression and anxiety from not being able to do all the things everyone else my age is doing. This also includes working full time. I tried it and gave it my best but I just physically could not do it and it actually breaks my heart as I am definitely not the type to sit back at home and have the government pay for me. So I do work part time (as hard as that is sometimes too) and from home when I have the energy to.
Not only does Fibromyalgia cause me severe chronic pain but also chronic fatigue. This isn't just tiredness it's actually having no energy to do the simplest tasks. Some days I struggle so much to just get myself out of bed and make breakfast never mind go out and do things. After any amount of sleep I just wake up feeling not refreshed and like I could go back to sleep for another 10 hours. This is where I struggle to work as I lose concentration as I'm so tired, I have no energy at work and to do simple tasks.
As well as both of these a new problem I have been having to deal with over the last two years has been feeling generally ill. You know when you are beginning to get a cold or a virus and you ache all over, you feel a little tingly but it's not a nice feeling, you have that annoying headache that's only just there and the horrible feeling in your throat that's not quite a sore throat. Well I feel like that every single day on top of my pain and fatigue which a lot of people don't realise or understand.
I have all my symptoms all day, everyday and there is never a time when they are not present. I have just become so used to putting on a brave face. When I am with my friends I am always laughing and joking like my normal or should I say old bubbly self. When I'm on a night out I try to fight through the anger and pain to dance with the girls and have a good time. When I'm in work I put on my telephone voice to hide the upset and fatigue I feel. As soon as I get home I let my shield down and I am miserable, I really don't know how my family put up with me but they are so understanding. They let me shout and snap at them and lock myself in my room, then they talk to me and hug me when I need comfort. I would not be able to cope without my supportive family and understanding friends.
I wanted to write this blog as a relief for myself to just be able to just say how I'm feeling and what I've had to accomplish everyday so that I don't bottle things up. As well as for others who suffer with the same condition to know they are not the only ones out there. As Fibromyalgia is medically known to affect older people I have found it very hard to sympathise with other people with this condition as my doctor and his colleagues have never seen it in someone from the age of 13 which is why I was so hard to diagnose. So I am hoping there are others like me and we can confide in each other.