Being as I am a new phenomenon to many of you (!), I figure I should at least introduce myself and what I plan to be writing about for The Fight Like A Girl Club.
My name is Annie Martin. I am 23 years old. I have been mysteriously ill since roughly 13 years of age. Over the past 10 years, I have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and myofascial pain syndrome – as well as celiac disease, asthma, general autoimmune attacks, and multiple mental health issues.
But enough about me, I’m here to give you the all the goodies (and not-so-goodies) about the first two controversial, misunderstood illnesses. Also, I personally like to call the latter ME/CFS – as chronic fatigue syndrome sounds as though the person afflicted is just lazy and wants to take a nap…which is not the case at all.
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis): An Introduction
A) It sucks.
B) At least it isn’t fatal.
C) It affects mostly women, but some men as well.
If there is one thing I have learned after being sick with these illnesses for the majority of my life, is that you’ve got to learn to ride the wave (no matter how rough). These are illnesses that tend to come in flares – but I haven’t heard of anyone getting rid of them for good.
FMS and ME/CFS fall into a spectrum of syndromes that are believed to be the result of an over-sensitivity problem in the nervous system, resulting in a constant low-energy state. As a result, brain chemistry is altered with lower levels of serotonin, an increase in substance P, low levels of growth hormone, and low levels of ATP.
If you get a doctor who believes in these illnesses (as there is still prejudice and mixed opinions in the field) – they would tell you that any combination of infections, genetic mutations, and physical/emotional trauma may be the initial cause.
The symptoms for these illnesses vary DRASTICALLY and can affect any system in the body.
Generally, FMS and ME/CFS involve:
- Severe fatigue (to the point where you can feel paralyzed in your own body!)
- Pain. Everywhere. Like you got hit by a truck.
- Poor (non-restorative) sleep
- Brain fog
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Recurrent infections
- Sensitivity to medications and chemicals
- TMJ dysfunction
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Interstitial Cystitis
- Anxiety disorders
- (This list could go on forever…)
On top of everything else, there is a tendency for this immune dysfunction to lead to the acquisition of autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
Chances are, if you’ve been hit with these symptoms for a long time, seen endless doctors who have claimed you to be crazy, and still have no answers – you may have an illness along this spectrum.
Luckily, you are in the company of some great women, and that is what The Fight Like A Girl Club is here to promote! Most days may be spent with some degree of pain, but with the support of a group – we are capable of making circumstances much more bearable.
Gentle hugs to all.
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.