Chronic Pain, Depression, Fibromyalgia, fibromyalgia warrior, Health, Spoonie

Fibromyalgia; The Pain behind my Smile, by Katharine Austin

Fibromyalgia warrior, Katharine suffers from Fibromyalgia. Katharine has added her face and story to Faces & Stories of Fibromyalgia. I am so grateful that Katharine has shared this, as each story told raises awareness and helps fellow sufferers.

You can connect with Katharine by following her on Instagram.

Faces of Fibromyalgia Fibromyalgia; The Pain Behind My Smile, by Katharine Austin
Fibromyalgia; The Pain Behind My Smile, by Katharine Austin

Hi Everyone! I’m Kat @fibro_catch22. This picture of me was taken last year on my wedding day – behind the smiles I was in so much pain. 2 weeks after this photo was taken, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. Before being diagnosed, I kept being told that my symptoms were just a side effect of my anxiety and depression (I’ve been under that umbrella since I was 16). At the time I was taking Amitriptyline, and had been for 5 years previously to help my anxiety and insomnia – that’s why the Fibromyalgia was difficult to detect. In 2019, I experienced a lot of family bereavement, which I struggled to cope with and the demands of my job. I work as a producer in the TV advertising industry – they think that the stress was my trigger to Fibromyalgia.

Looking back I think my trigger started a long time ago when working for a very abusive director. After years of verbal abuse, he tried to get physical. That’s when I decided I had had enough and reported him. He ended up being fired, but the whole experience was extremely challenging and stressful. I realised who my real friends were, who I could trust and rely on. It was a very challenging time in my life.

When I finally was diagnosed with Fibro, I revisited a really dark place within myself and felt like I had completely lost my identity. I’m a stubborn person who doesn’t like to give up, but Fibromyalgia really does challenge me. When I was first diagnosed I didn’t register the impact it would have on my life – I was in denial and tried to carry on as normal which would only make my flares last longer.

I have now gone down the alternative route and started acupuncture which has definitely helped. I am really strict with my mental and physical fitness. I practice mindfulness each morning and gratitude meditation. I am undergoing a CBT course which has been amazing for my mental health. I am determined to not let Fibromyalgia beat me. I am still in A LOT of pain, haven’t had sleep in God knows how long, get chronic migraines and IBS, BUT by listening to my body more and being kinder to myself, I’m slowly getting there. When I first got diagnosed, I tried to find a local support group and after emailing out and getting no reply, I’ve decided to set up my own. In June I’ll be launching singing, mindfulness, Pilates, and other creative workshops in the Herts/London area for people who suffer from Fibro and other autoimmune conditions. I want to create a safe and positive space to be around people who understand how Fibro suffers feel. Xx

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