Fibromyalgia isn’t the easiest illness to explain. Because it’s invisible, people may not be able to understand what it feels like just by looking at you. You may get blank looks when you try to describe the never-ending pain and utter exhaustion that comes with fibromyalgia. And of course, it can feel lonely to have an illness your friends and family have never experienced and don’t quite “get.”
So we found some memes that may help do the talking for you — and maybe even make you laugh. Because sometimes, laughing at the ridiculous symptoms so many fibro warriors experience truly helps you cope. See if you relate to the memes below, and share with your loved ones who don’t understand your fibromyalgia.
1. Widespread Muscle and Joint Pain
Fibromyalgia is characterized by pain that can affect any and all areas of the body. This has been described as a deep muscle ache, stabbing or shooting pains, or even tingling. Mighty contributor Jennifer Prescott said, “Fibromyalgia feels as if your body is gnawing on itself, every minute of every day. Even on the ‘good days,’ when it’s just gnawing with less fervor. On the best days, it still nibbles, like an itch that can never be scratched or eliminated.”
Fatigue that doesn’t go away after a night’s sleep and is brought on by even small amounts of physical exertion is another hallmark of fibromyalgia. One member of the Mighty community described it like being a broken iPhone battery that can’t recharge.
“Your body has a very limited supply of energy. You have to think carefully about what you do every day so you don’t run out of battery and shut down,” she said.
3. Trouble Sleeping
While fibromyalgia makes you feel extra fatigued and tired, it also can make it difficult to get restful sleep. Research has shown that people with fibromyalgia are frequently interrupted by awake-like brain activity, so they don’t get quality deep sleep.
“I can be so tired throughout the day, staring mindlessly at a computer screen or unable to keep focused on my drive home from work yet, when I actually lay down at night, my eyes are wide awake and my brain kicks into high gear,” said Mighty contributor Jules Bonds.
— Maximum Halloween (@themaxhalloween) November 14, 2017
4. Anxiety and/or Depression
Like many chronic illnesses, fibromyalgia is often accompanied by anxiety and/or depression. The stress of having a painful condition without a cure or reliable treatment methods — one that is frequently misunderstood by medical professionals and loved ones — can lead to feelings of anxiety and depression.
“In my vulnerable state, Depressed snuck onto my path and perched on my head, using my hair as reins to control my movements,” Mighty contributor Arya Boris wrote. “Twins named Paranoid and Anxious are little, seemingly harmless creatures which hung from my earlobes like jewelry whispering ‘what ifs’ and other doubts day in and out that intertwined with my personal narrative.”
5. Brain Fog
While not physically painful, brain fog (or “fibro fog”) is still one of the most frustrating symptoms of fibromyalgia. You might feel “spacey,” like you can’t focus or concentrate. You may have trouble recalling words, details and things you planned on doing.
“Fibro fog is like being temporarily disoriented. You cannot connect your thoughts. They come in and are not processed properly. It’s like having a brain full of cotton,” said Jennifer Parrett Piel.
— TheManicYears (@TheManicYears) November 29, 2017
6. Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Many people with fibromyalgia also experience irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leading some researchers to suggest the two conditions are related and perhaps caused by the same disorder. IBS is characterized by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.
7. Body Stiffness in the Morning
If you have fibromyalgia, chances are the morning is a difficult time for you. Many fibro warriors experience stiffness and body pain upon waking up and attempting to get out of bed.
“Mornings are notoriously difficult for people with fibromyalgia; we wake up feeling exhausted and sore, wondering how on earth we will keep our eyes open as the day goes on,” said Mighty contributor Sarah Borien. “Lying in bed is uncomfortable, getting up is uncomfortable, and yet there is so much to do that the thoughts in our mind are uncomfortable.”
8. Sensitivity to Light, Sounds and Odors
Studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia experience great sensitivity to light and sound, possibly due to changes in brain chemistry. If you have fibromyalgia, you may have found that candles, bright lights and loud noises are more off-putting now than they used to be.