I live with fibromyalgia and arthritis alongside my bipolar disorder, which can be really challenging. Chronic pain can influence my moods, just as my moods can worsen my chronic pain. It can be a delicate balancing act to live well with both physical and mental illness.
Fibromyalgia and arthritis
Fibromyalgia is a chronic condition, meaning that it lasts longer than 3 months. It has many symptoms but is categorized primarily by widespread chronic pain and fatigue. There are various types of arthritis; my diagnosis is Osteoarthritis, which means that the cartilage within one or more of your joints wears down. The cartilage is like a cushion on the end of your bone, which protects bones from rubbing against each other, but when it wears down, the joint doesn’t function as it should. This can cause inflammation and joint stiffness.
Chronic pain and my moods influencing each other
I have found over the years that when my chronic pain is flaring, meaning that my symptoms are at their worst, it has a big impact on my mood. However, I’ve also noticed that when I’m struggling with depression, my chronic pain worsens in correlation. I now understand the science behind chronic pain and that our minds and bodies are connected, so of course, they would affect one another. Once I got a better handle on my bipolar disorder through medication and appropriate treatment, I was also able to get a better handle on my chronic pain.
Determination to live well
Living with 2 chronic pain conditions can be difficult. When I was first experiencing chronic pain on top of my mental illness, I simply didn’t want to continue. I felt like I was in hell, in severe agonising pain in both my body and mind. Then the fighter in me kicked in and I started to do research into chronic pain. I found that there were ways I could reduce my symptoms and live well with my chronic pain, just like I find ways to live a happy life despite my bipolar disorder.
Once I had that sense of empowerment, understanding that I could take my life back and regain my level of functioning, I set out to continue learning and growing, determined to continue fighting my daily battles no matter what. It’s far from easy, but now I have a handle on my chronic pain and my bipolar disorder. There will always be ups and downs, but I will keep learning and adjusting along the way.
If you’d like to learn more about the science behind chronic pain or find out more about fibromyalgia and arthritis, you can check out the links I’ve included to my work on chronic pain. If you have chronic pain, you can also find further information through those links about how to better manage it and live a fuller life!