When it comes to fibromyalgia a lot of people who don’t have it or don’t completely understand it, don’t truly understand what I mean when I say I’m having a flare. They tend to think it’s ‘just’ a case of me being in pain and feeling tired, which are certainly symptoms but that isn’t what a flare is to me.
A flare is feeling so tired that you can barely keep your eyes open, that you find it so very difficult to even move your head or lift your arms never mind anything else. Flaring is feeling so nauseous that you feel as though you can’t keep anything down. It’s having ridiculously bad IBS so that you constantly feel as though you need to rush to the toilet, but you can’t rush because your legs aren’t working properly. It’s not being able to sleep because your body is in so much pain and discomfort when you truly have never needed sleep so much in your entire life.
Flaring is having skin so sensitive that even the slightest touch makes your body scream out in pain. It’s losing feeling in your arms and legs and feet. It’s feeling tingly and as if bugs are crawling all over your skin. It’s having rashes and itchy skin that you want to scratch off! It’s having a headache so bad that your head is throbbing, and it hurts when you move it from side to side or even when you just move your eyes. It’s feeling so dizzy that the room is spinning, so much so that you feel sea sick. It’s having blurry vision so that you can’t have simple comforts like reading or watching a film when you are lying in bed due to your flare. It’s feeling shaky and being unable to keep your hands still to hold a drink, not that you feel like having a drink or anything to eat anyway, but you know just to make things that much harder if you manage to.
Flaring is being so sensitive to noise that the slightest thing sounds like someone scraping their nails down a blackboard, making you want to scream at people to shut up which makes you look like a complete irritable irrational idiot and isn’t remotely what you are like when you aren’t having a flare. It’s swelling of your legs and feet that makes your skin feel so uncomfortable because it’s stretched so much. It’s being so confused mentally that you can’t remember what you were trying to say, you can’t formulate the sentences that will express how you feel or remember what you were going to do next. It’s extreme frustration caused from that which adds to the tension and stress on top of the symptoms your body is experiencing.
Having a flare is being in so much pain all over your body that you can no longer pinpoint where any specific pain is coming from. It’s wanting a hug to comfort you but being in too much pain to be able to cope with receiving one. It’s being stuck in the house or stuck in bed when you want to be doing so many other things. It’s frustration because you want to live a normal life and inside you are this productive, passionate, capable person but you are stuck inside a body that won’t allow you to be who you are.
Flaring is pure fear that this is going to go on forever, that it’s never going to end and that you are never going to cope with it. It’s feeling as though you will die from this pain. Then when it finally ends you feel momentary relief, perhaps the relief will last for a day or more, until you get that sudden weight in your stomach, that realisation that another flare will inevitably come, and then that relief is replaced by pure dread and anxiety wondering when the next one will come over you like a wave and take your life away again.
Fibromyalgia is not simple, it is not ‘just’ pain, it is not made up, it is not easy, and it is not something that goes away. Those of us who suffer from it are damn warriors, we go through things that no one should have to, and we do it with the most positive attitude that we can manage. We get on with our lives, and live them the best way we can, finding ways to get around that flare and those symptoms to have something resembling the life that our inner selves desire. If you are reading this and you are a fibro warrior, know that I am with you, that I see you, that I know how truly fucking incredible you are.