a person climbing a mountain that has faces in pain on it

How I Cope With AS and Fibromyalgia

Last updated: November 2022

Everyone deals with pain and fatigue differently. Those are my main symptoms from AS and fibromyalgia. My fibro diagnosis came a few months after my AS diagnosis. At first, I didn't feel the difference between the two; it was all just pain to me.

But I started noticing that I couldn't be touched, and my clothes started irritating my skin. So I started researching what fibro really was. I had heard of it before, but was not educated on the symptoms it caused. As I did my research it all started making sense, why I couldn't be touched, because it caused pain. It also explained why my clothes irritated my skin--it's a nerve condition, and not a pleasant one. My whole body started to hurt...Then I felt the difference between the two.

So, I had a little talk with myself and here's what I said

"Nay this is just another obstacle you will have to climb. It may take you some time to climb it but you will reach the top eventually."

From childhood, I was taught to fight. I grew up in a poor neighborhood in the Bronx. My mom was a single mom of 2 girls and we saw her struggles. We saw her fight every day to provide and keep a roof over our heads. She always told me where there's a will there's a way, and to always be grateful for the things you do have. While it may not be much, it's better than having nothing.

Those words stuck with me my entire life. I come from a strong bloodline; my grandfather had lymphoma and prostate cancer, and my grandma had osteoporosis. At 99, before she passed away, my grandma was still cooking and cleaning. My dad has had HIV for over 20 years now and you can't even tell that he has it. My mom had mental illness that she battled for most of her life. She beat a drug addiction in the late 90s, but struggled staying clean.

My mom lost her battle to depression in 2020 and took her life. However, she fought all those years and stood for us, took care of us, and gave us the best childhood she could. It wasn't always easy, but she never let us see what she was really facing. She made sure to remind us how strong we were.

As young ladies she reminded us every day that life isn't going to be easy, and that we will face many challenges, but it's up to us how we handle those challenges. Those words also stuck with me my entire life. When she lost her battle, I told myself I have to fight mine for her now just like she fought hers for us. My mental health has declined since I lost my mom; it was a very tough time and is still tough not having my rock, because she was my rock after diagnosis.

I know that she's looking down proud of everything that I'm achieving

Living with debilitating chronic pain and fatigue is not easy at all. I know it's easy to just give up and lay in sorrow but where's the fun in that? I always say look for the blessing instead of the curse.

I'm blessed to have a great support system, I'm blessed that I wake up every day surrounded by people who love me and want the best for me, I'm blessed to have a community that understands these challenges and makes my days a little brighter because I know I'm not alone, I'm blessed to still be able to dance because that's what brings me joy.

You're not alone either

We're in this together, so when you're feeling like you've had enough, look for your blessings. Look for your joy and remind yourself how amazingly strong you are to still be here to share your journey and help others that are not strong enough to keep going. Your journey can save someone.

The physical pain will always be there. It's up to us how we handle that pain mentally. If you're struggling right now I want you to know that I am too. But I know that my mom would be so proud that her journey made me the strong woman I am today. She wasn't weak because she lost her battle, she was strong enough to hold on for so long despite her pain.

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