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Katrina Irapah: My experience with fibromyalgia

13 years ago, my life changed forever. I was an 11-year-old girl beginning her life at secondary school which was already a big transition as it is in every young girl’s life. However, it was not the only change in my life, in 2008 I had developed symptoms of chronic pain. I was left with no understanding or answers as to what this pain was, how to make it better or why this was happening. I was then diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome 4 years later in 2012 although this was a diagnosis t it is where I lost a lot of my hope. Knowing there was no cure or very much knowledge to this unbearable, excruciating pain that I was experiencing 24/7 at such a young age was soul destroying. It was only till early last year that I was further diagnosed with Fibromyalgia.
I remember waking up every day in agony, not knowing how to get rid of this aching, stabbing, electrocuting pain that I was experiencing. But one thing I did know was that I had to get up and get my mind and body to school. Having Fibromyalgia at such a young age meant that I had to grow up and I had to grow up and face things fast because this was my reality. 
I am not ashamed to say that I became an angry person behind closed doors, I was angry at the world. I felt like my teenage years up until I was in my twenties was ruined. Fibromyalgia had taken so much away from me physically and mentally and I was constantly asking myself “why me?”. I would cry every day and night that this is what my life had become, I was sick of missing so much school, being sent to different hospitals, the pills, the therapies, the blood tests and all the treatments. I was determined in searching for a cure that didn’t exist and looking for answers that would never be found.
In these early years of having my symptoms I used to yearn having physical signs of pain, something that everyone could see. I was so young and had no way of explaining what I was going through, how it felt and how to prove that I felt like a prisoner of pain in my own body and skin. I had doctors and consultants tell me that it is “all in my head” that “I look fine” or that my symptoms are “apparent” and “exaggerated” which really broke my heart every time walking away feeling more lost, frustrated and disheartened than I already was. You had to constantly be almost begging medical professionals for investigations to be done because it seemed in their eyes it was a waste of time and money. But I can tell you now, the day I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia is a day I will never forget. I had mixed emotions; however, I had a much more positive outlook on it than negative. Yes, it does suck to have this incurable invisible illness, but it was also a proper diagnosis which was validation for myself and others that my pain is real, and no one could tell me otherwise. This is why it is so important to raise awareness of Fibromyalgia, to share our stories, to enlighten people of the symptoms and struggles because we could be helping an undiagnosed fibro fighter find their light. 
I am so fortunate that with the support from everyone I surrounded myself with over the years I was able to get through the hardest decade I could ever imagine experiencing. I had come to a realisation that if anyone was going to change the way I felt towards life it was going to be me. I have and had so much to be grateful for but allowed the Fibromyalgia to mask that for so many years of my life that I had forgotten how great the things I could still do was. We shouldn’t give such great power to the things we can’t do, and we shouldn’t let it stop us from doing all the things we can do and enjoy. When I came to accept that I was not like everyone else and there were things that I was unable to do but also come to the understanding there were still so many things that I was capable of doing and enjoying I became much happier. I began to let go of all the anger I had built up inside me (although that anger still makes an appearance on occasions). I have learnt ways of managing my pain and pacing myself whilst still achieving what I want and doing what I love.
So here I am 12 years later living the life I am today; I am an Upper Second-class Graduate in Early Childhood Education, I have been employed for the last 4 years, I am in a happy relationship, have family and close friends around me and I remain positive. Don’t get me wrong getting to the place of peace and acceptance that I have reached was far from easy and I still have bad days but don’t we all. I can’t be the judge of when things will get better for you, but they will, things will get easier. You just have to make a promise to yourself that you will keep trying and never give up! I have so much of my journey both the highs and the really really lows to share with you all on my blog katrinasfightwithfibro.com and my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/katrinairapah_/

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