I’ve suffered with anxiety for a long time and about five years ago it was at its worse and I was prescribed medication. During this time I began to notice pains in my arms and legs and knew this was more than anxiety.

After several visits to my doctor I was told I had a choice between medication for the anxiety or to suffer the pain which obviously just confused me and left me feeling dreadful. Eventually I managed to see a new doctor and was sent for tests to eliminate anything else, including an ultra-sound on my kidneys as I had excruciating pain in my back.

All tests came back as normal so I was then sent for physio where the therapist told me that the pain I was experiencing had no connection to my body. Soon after I had a really bad episode when I had to call the doctor out on emergency. He mentioned that he thought it may well be fibromyalgia and I was prescribed Tramadol and he referred me for nerve induction tests. Yet again the tests didn’t reveal anything abnormal.

Following this I was referred to Rheumatology where I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia and I was given a couple of leaflets to explain the condition. At that time I didn’t really have much of a clue about it but I was relieved to have at last a diagnosis and a reason behind the pain and fatigue I was suffering with.

A few months later I was referred to the Persistent Pain Clinic where I was reassured by them and prescribed duloxetene and pregablin. My stress levels were overwhelming causing me to have social anxiety and I became very isolated. My family and friends were very supportive but I know it was very difficult for them to understand.

All of this had a ripple affect throughout my life and family, fortunately I wasn’t working because by then I had lost my confidence, felt drained and I became very withdrawn. I remember I was only comfortable with familiarity and didn’t enjoy changes. Having to manage fibromyalgia leaves me feeling that I often have to let others down and myself when I now know that my body isn’t always capable of doing the things I was used to doing.

As time has gone on my fibromyalgia pain has spread and feels more intense especially after I have over exerted myself. I haven’t made any significant changes to my diet but I have made lifestyle changes and learnt to rest when I need to. I have trouble getting off to sleep sometimes but have found that the breathing exercises are a really good fibromyalgia treatment option which have really helped me to relax. It’s remembering to do them!

For me the worst thing is knowing that fibromyalgia is a condition that has no end, it’s always there. The best thing I’ve done is to attend the Fibro Clinic South West support group and workshops. It’s been such a relief to meet other ladies who understand what I am going through andI now know that I am not alone.

It’s offered me friendship and it’s been a life-line to listen to others and share our experiences and finding out new ways of coping. For me, it’s about feeling I am not being judged or labelled about having fibromyalgia and that I am not on my own, I feel a part of something that is forward thinking.

My Top Tip is get as much support as you can and factual information or you can end up going round in circles.

I’ve received so much encouragement and help and I’m now a member of the Fibro Tool-Kittens online group (a big achievement for me) since completing the Fibro Tool-Kit programme and we continue to support each other.

I hope my story is helpful and thank you for reading, wishing you all the best, Brenda.

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