by Andy Greene
One of the most common pain disorders, affecting roughly 3 to 6 percent of the world’s population , fibromyalgia is a very frustrating disorder with little understanding of what causes it and no real cure. This can become increasingly demoralizing to those who suffer from it. Sadly, fibromyalgia is not just a pain disorder. Depression and anxiety often coincide with the disorder – so much so, in fact, that they have become diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia. The persistent pain that sufferers feel is very taxing, which can lead to fatigue and depression.  This sometimes causes social isolation if the pain gets bad enough for the sufferer to stay at home.
I learned a lot about fibromyalgia from my mother in particular – she was diagnosed with it when I was younger. Even on her better days, she had limited mobility, headaches, and persistent brain fog. She worked from home, which helped lessen the stress of her mobility problems, but didn’t really help with any of her other symptoms. She became very socially isolated for a time, as she didn’t have the energy to go out anymore. She was only in her mid forties.
Thankfully, she worked with her doctor and managed to lessen the symptoms to an extent. Regular, light exercise and a variety of medications helped to get her back on her feet. Although it isn’t a perfect solution, her life is the best it’s been so far – and I’m happy that her doctor was able to work with her through the rougher times. Sadly, it’s not so easy for everyone, as not every treatment option will work for every person.
It’s unfortunate, but it often takes a long time for someone to get diagnosed and treated for fibromyalgia due to the unusual nature of the condition itself. This can lead to a very frustrating chain of misdiagnosis and failed treatments, leaving the sufferer feeling misunderstood and/or guilty for being a “problem person” due to their undiagnosed pain. Even after a successful diagnosis, the news can still be shocking and aggravating due to the lack of a cure. 
I recall my mother in particular getting increasingly angry at doctors for being unable to find something to help her condition. Although her anger was a bit misdirected, I couldn’t blame her for her feelings. I would’ve probably gotten fed up with it all, too. In fact, so many people struggle every day with their diagnoses that there have been a number of studies on fibromyalgia’s link to poor mental health. 
Not everything is dark and dreary, though. Community resources for fibromyalgia have become more common and more easily accessible – these include (but are not limited to) self help books, youtube channels, and support/meetup groups. Having these resources slowly pop up over the years has been tremendously helpful – not only for sufferers, but for their friends and family too, who are looking to learn more about the disorder. So if you know someone or suspect someone who might suffer from a pain disorder such as fibromyalgia, look into it! You may change a life.