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How Poetry Helps Me Face An Invisible Illness
Thursday 16 May 2019
How Poetry Helps Me Face an Invisible Illness
I wrote the poem “I don’t want to be in my body no more” for myself. I needed to come to terms with what my body is experiencing. If I’m being honest, I still haven’t fully accepted it. The years of disbelief from medical professionals have shifted the way I see myself.
“There is nothing wrong with you. You’re fine.” I heard those eight words over and over again from doctors, lab technicians, nurse practitioners; I even had a couple of chiropractors tell me that I was just tense from hunching over my computer or carrying too many books. I have been told that the pain I feel is caused by stress, that the extreme dizziness and migraines are simply vertigo or dehydration. I have been told that my memory issues stem from exhaustion. I have been told that my excruciating, full-body pain during sex is normal because I’m young and inexperienced. I have been told that I may be infertile, and the pain and trauma I carry surrounding that possibility has been swept entirely under the rug. I have been told, I have been told, I have been told.
Rarely have I been heard.
A scientific study confirmed the existence of fibromyalgia as a medical condition in 1981. Nearly four decades later, there is still a gaping hole of knowledge in the medical community. A common mistake in diagnosing patients with invisible illnesses is treating symptoms as individual issues rather than seeing how they fit together. A combination of symptom-specific treatments and misdiagnoses made my journey to a diagnosis of fibromyalgia last over a decade. This is a common story for people with chronic and invisible illnesses. My story began at a very young age.
I don't want to be in my body no more: a visual poem
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