Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition, not known to many has been recently brought into the limelight by the international pop star Lady Gaga whose documentary ‘Five Foot Two’ on Netflix explores her struggle with this condition.
Fibromyalgia is a chronic disorder that causes intense widespread pain, hypersensitivity, chronic fatigue and sleep problems.
Diagnosing fibromyalgia is a problem because there is no definitive test to prove the presence of this disorder but these days it is diagnosed by widespread musculoskeletal pain. Also, it is a controversial issue since many doctors simply don’t believe that this is a disorder. They look at it as a collection of various symptoms.
For people who suffer from Fibromyalgia, the pain occurs on both sides of the body, both above and below the waist. In addition to this, there is a problem sleeping either from the mind numbing pain or from the development of sleeping disorders. There can be a problem concentrating to an extent where the patient feels that they are in a ‘Fibro Fog’. Researchers have suggested that Fibromyalgia amplifies the painful sensations via abnormal increase in the level of neurotransmitters and changes the way the brain processes pain signals.
These symptoms sometimes take place after a physical injury, surgery, infection or significant psychological stress. Lady Gaga had revealed that she suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTST) because of sexual assault at the age of 19. The distress of a trauma like sexual assault can manifest itself in long-term physical ways. The singer said, “When something traumatic happens, your brain disconnects so that it can handle it,” she elaborated. “But, it stays in your body, in your tissues, physically in you.” She opened up about her condition to let her fans know that she is a normal girl like everyone else who shares the same problems.
In her documentary, Gaga talks about her everyday struggle with the chronic pain which according to her is because of the paralyzing fear she has suffered from for past ten years. The constant pain in her face reduced her to tears every single time but she got back up and did what she had to do. She has been fighting this monster pain for past six years now. There have been times when the pain is so excruciating that she has to get injections in the clinic while getting her makeup done simultaneously for an interview later. She talks about the condition openly now in order to raise awareness and also to prove that if you want to do something, absolutely nothing can get in your way. This zeal to get things done and the never giving up attitude keeps her going.
She has mentioned in her documentary that this severe pain has ‘materially impacted her ability to perform live’ because of which she had to cancel 10 shows of the Joanne Tour in 2017. The singer believes that the adrenaline in her music and her fans gives her strength to perform but that does not mean that she is not in pain. She inadvertently shuts everything down. She describes her pain as global which is often accompanied by panic attacks. Lady Gaga is one hell of a strong woman and she can still be herself irrespective of all the hardships.
By sharing her pain story, Lady Gaga has motivated many people who are suffering from such invisible conditions to open up. She has given the people a ray of hope. She feels this can be made easy if we lift each other. Gaga, on her social media also shares her pain remedies that help her keep doing her job, pursuing her passion even on the days when she feels she is unable to get out of the bed.