Fibromyalgia warrior, Katrina Irapah, suffers from Fibromyalgia. Katrina has added her face and story to Faces & Stories of Fibromyalgia. I am so grateful that Katrina has shared this, as each story told raises awareness and helps fellow sufferers.
You can connect with Katrina by following her on Instagram.
12 years ago, my life changed forever. I was an 11-year-old girl beginning her life at secondary school, which was a big transition as it is in every young girl’s life. However, it was not the only change in my life. In 2008 I had developed symptoms of chronic pain. I was left with no understanding or answers as to what this pain was, how to make it better or why this was happening. In 2012, 4 years later, I was diagnosed with chronic pain syndrome. Although it was a diagnosis, it is where I lost a lot of hope. Knowing there was no cure or knowledge about this unbearable, excruciating pain that I was experiencing 24/7 at such a young age, was soul destroying. Early last year, 2019, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and for me that was a step towards peace and acceptance as it brought me a more specific diagnosis. However, that did not take the reality and hardships of living with this invisible illness away.
I remember waking up every day in agony, not knowing how to get rid of this aching, stabbing, electrocuting pain that I was experiencing. But one thing I did know was that I had to get up and get my mind and body to school. Having Fibromyalgia at such a young age meant that I had to grow up, and I had to grow up and face things fast. Although I had the best memories at my secondary school, most of which I wouldn’t change for the world, I also had bad ones and the good ones were almost always tainted by chronic pain.
I am not ashamed to say that I became an angry person behind closed doors. I was angry at the world. I felt like my teenage years until my twenties were ruined. Fibromyalgia had taken so much away from me physically and mentally, and I was constantly asking myself “why me?”. I would cry every day and night as this is what my life had become, I was sick of missing so much school, being sent to different hospitals, the pills, the therapies, the blood tests, and all the treatments. I was determined to search for a cure that didn’t exist and look for answers that would never be found. Little did I know 12 years later I would be looking at this as a blessing in disguise.
Fortunately, with the support of some of my family, friends, loved ones, some of my teachers, medical professionals, and inspirational friends I had met through having chronic pain, I was able to get through the hardest decade I could ever imagine experiencing. I had come to the realisation that if anyone was going to change the way I felt towards life, it was going to be me. I had and have so much to be grateful for but allowed the Fibromyalgia to mask that for so many years of my life, that I had to be grateful for things I could do. We shouldn’t give such great power to the things we can’t do, and we shouldn’t let it prevent us from doing all the things we can do and enjoy.
I can say changing my mindset towards Fibromyalgia was the best thing I could have ever done. When I came to accept that I was not like everyone else, and there were things that I was unable to do, but also came to the understanding that there were still so many things that I was capable of doing and enjoying, I became much happier. I began to let go of all the anger I had built up inside me (although that anger still makes an appearance on occasions). I have learnt ways of managing my pain and pacing myself whilst still achieving what I want and doing what I love. If you’re at the stage of anger and you’re not in a good place right now, that is okay! There is no time schedule on how you deal with your Fibromyalgia. But just know there will come a time where you get to the place of acceptance and peace, where I am at now. Just allow your journey to continue and as I would always say, never give up! I never thought I would have achieved everything I have been able to, but here I am. I am an Upper Second-class Graduate in Early Childhood Education, I have been fortunate enough to be employed for the last 4 years, I am in a happy relationship and I remain positive. Don’t get me wrong, getting to the place I am at of peace and acceptance was far from easy and I still have really bad days, but don’t we all? I can’t judge when things will get better for you, but they will. Things will get easier. You just must make a promise to yourself that you will keep trying and never give up!