It’s been a while since I shared a Fibro Warrior Interview, but recently I made the acquaintance of fellow blogger, Ali Hemsley from Brighton England and she offered to share her story.
If you’d like to share your story here as a Fibro Warrior, I’d love to have you do so. Just email me.
Ali is 22 and has a gorgeous west highland terrier called Dexter (who she often refers to as her baby). After doing a degree in Economics, she decided that wasn’t the path she wanted to take so now she’s obtaining her qualification to become a certified Personal Trainer so she can help and motivate others. She loves spending time with friends and family, cooking, drinking wine and singing loudly to the Mamma Mia soundtrack. She was diagnosed in December of 2011 at the age of 17.
What lead up to your diagnosis?
In June 2011 I suffered from what I thought was a virus – and quickly found myself housebound due to joint pain and severe fatigue. I had numerous doctors appointments over the first few months, where I was told to keep waiting for “the virus” to go away by itself. By my diagnosis in December, I was unable to attend college and was struggling to lift a glass of water.
How did your family initially handle your illness?
My mother, who I lived with, was very supportive and made an effort to research Fibro to try to understand it. The rest of my family didn’t take a very active approach and it’s not something that we’ve ever spoken about in detail.
What do you feel is the most challenging aspect of Fibro?
Personally, I think the most challenging aspect of Fibro is the effect it’s had on my mental health. I remember telling my doctor that I felt depressed and his response was “Of course you’re depressed. You’re in constant pain.” That level of understanding was really helpful to me, as I’d struggled to see my mental and physical health as joined. Being constantly fatigued or in pain really takes its toll on your motivation, happiness and overall mental well-being.
I also have M.E / Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I think there are so many overlapping symptoms that I struggle to separate the two, and they definitely form a vicious cycle – when I’m fatigued, my Fibro gets worse, which makes me more fatigued, which makes my Fibro even worse…
What (if anything) have you found/ done that has improved your symptoms?
For me, treating my body kindly and giving it the care it needs really helps my symptoms. This could be something like a hot bath with lots of bubbles, to a walk along the beach, or just sitting outside in the fresh air. I also treat to eat a balanced diet and exercise when I’m able – I still have days where I’m unable to get out of bed but I allow my body the rest it needs when that happens.
How open are you with friends & family about your illness & symptoms?
Upon reflection, I’m not that open about it. Apart from my mum, I don’t think my family know the true extent of my Fibro. Most of my friends didn’t know me at the time I was diagnosed or the few years after that where my symptoms were the worst so it’s not something we talk about a lot. My closest friends know about it but to others I just skim over the subject.
I’ve only started blogging about it recently. It’s always been something that I’ve been slightly afraid to talk about because I was bullied about it online when I was first diagnosed. This made me be less open about it on social media. Over the years, my confidence has grown and I’ve now reached a place where I feel comfortable talking about my journey. I also want to share my journey as I’m now embarking on a new career in the fitness industry. (Something that I never thought would be possible!) I want to be a voice of hope for other young people, and I cannot do that without letting myself be open!
What is the best advice you’ve received regarding Fibromyalgia?
The best advice I’ve received is that I’m allowed to say no without giving a reason.
What was the worst advice that you followed?
To cut out sugar, sweeteners, gluten, caffeine and alcohol out of my diet!!
What is your favorite way to cope with your life as a spoonie?
I cope by loving myself, caring for myself and allowing my body the time it needs. This usually means surrounding myself with my favorite people, watching my favorite films and eating copious amounts of chocolate! I also love catching up with other spoonies on Twitter or Instagram.
What is it that inspires you to keep going, despite your illness?
My mum. 100%. She’s one of the best people on this planet, and she deserves the world. I want to be able to give her it.
What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself since your diagnosis?
I am so, so much stronger than I ever thought.
What is the most important piece of advice you would give to someone newly diagnosed with Fibro?
Stay strong. Stay positive. Take care of yourself.
Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
Please, please don’t blame yourself or let anyone ever tell you that you’re faking or doing things for attention. People can be ignorant. Don’t let it affect you.
Be sure to check out Ali’s blog and follow her on your favorite social media platform.
- Ali’s Blog: www.alihemsley.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/alihemsley
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/alihemsley
- Snapchat: www.snapchat.com/add/alihemsley
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org