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We Need To Start Taking Women's Illnesses Seriously
Tuesday 19 March 2019
'We Need To Start Taking Women's Illnesses Seriously'
An Instagram community of women documenting their struggles with chronic pain is flourishing - Selma Blair, Lena Dunham and Kirsty Young are amongst the women speaking up.
When Amelia Butlin started @cantgoout_imsick – an Instagram account detailing the suffering and strength of chronically ill individuals – she did not expect Lena Dunham to take note. So, when the Girls creator re-grammed one of her illustrations last week (a painting of Lena, which praised her openness around her health troubles), Amelia was in total shock.
‘Wow, this made me cry,’ Lena wrote, before urging her three million followers to subscribe to Amelia’s account. Lena, like Amelia, 25, suffers from fibromyalgia – a largely misunderstood long-term condition that causes pain all over the body, extreme fatigue, headaches and problems with mental processing. known as ‘fibro fog’. The post also detailed how Lena suffers from chronic pain as a result of endometriosis, where tissue similar to the lining of the womb starts to grow in places such as the ovaries and fallopian tubes (last year, Lena underwent a hysterectomy in an attempt to relieve her pain).
Endometriosis affects one in 10 women, yet it can take years for sufferers to get an official diagnosis, with many claiming that doctors fail to take them seriously. Indeed, Endometriosis Awareness Month, which started last week, aims to educate and therefore decrease the average diagnosis time – currently seven and a half years.
Awareness of such chronic conditions is increasing due to high-profile individuals discussing their pain. Last year, Kirsty Young’s fibromyalgia forced her to stop presenting Desert Island Discs, while in a 2017 documentary, Lady Gaga opened up about living with the debilitating condition, which has forced her to cancel tour dates. And last month, Selma Blair revealed that doctors failed to recognise her multiple sclerosis, as they believed motherhood was the cause of her extreme ‘fatigue’.
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