Living with Fibromyalgia

Sleeping Beauty was a Fibro Warrior – What If Fairytale Characters had Fibromyalgia?

Over the weekend, I had a polysomnographic study done. In plain words, it was a sleep study.

As many Fibro Warriors are well to aware of, Fibromyalgia often is accompanied by various comorbidities.

A comorbidity is a medical condition that tags along. For example, Irritable Bowel Syndrome could be a comorbidity of fibromyalgia.

It happens on its own for some people, but when it affects Fibro Warriors, it is there because of fibromyalgia.

Anyhow, I had a sleep study done due to what they call hypersomnia – it is a medical term to describe people who sleep too much, or who feel sleepy too often.

My personal problem is that I will fall asleep at random moments, under certain conditions.

I rarely fall asleep if I am engaged in a conversation, but if I am listening to a lecture as part of the audience, my chances of falling asleep are insanely high. Or when I am in a car with someone. I will fall asleep if we don’t talk.

Some days, I feel overwhelmingly tired. So much so that I have taken two to three naps per day, each two to three hours long.

Can you imagine that? I get up, take the kids to school, go back to sleep, wake up to get the kids back from school, take a nap, eat dinner and go to bed. That’s no life.

I don’t wish that on my worst enemy. You feel like life is passing you by and you are just a spectator who’s not quite sure what’s going on.

Back to the subject: I had a sleep study done to try and resolve my sleep issues. I have been using a cpap machine for 8 years, but after my seizure, I was told that it may be a neurological issue, triggered by sleep deprivation.

So here I was, laying in bed with close to 40 electrodes all over my body.

“Go to sleep like you normally would at home,” they instructed me. Well at home, I’m not into the habit of gearing up with electrodes everywhere, so…

As I was trying to find a comfortable spot, my mind was going all over the place. And that is when it hit me.

What if fairytales were just filled with characters who suffered from fibromyalgia?

You’ve got to admit that it is an interesting question! I’m not sure it had any scientific value (actually, I’m sure it does not!), but I thought it would be fun.

While an article on Celebrities who have fibromyalgia has already been written, now it’s time for fairytale characters!

1- Sleeping Beauty

Quite obviously, Sleeping Beauty has dibs on the pole position of my list of Fairy Fibro Warriors, or Fairy Warriors for short.

For all we know, that poor princess was just bedridden because she just could not handle being awake.

Sometimes, the sleepiness is such that getting out of bed is a huge task. And let’s be honest, there are days when it is not even on my list of “things-that-are-going-to-happen-today.”

It is one of the worst symptoms of fibromyalgia for me because it is one of the most misunderstood symptoms.

Granted most symptoms are misunderstood, but it is very hard to explain that, yes, you’re the one who wanted to drag dinner with friends, and that, yes, you’re the only one who will not be going.

I wish people who realize that it’s not intentional. I’m not trying to be tired all the time. And I certainly don’t enjoy it!

But it is what it is. And there you have it: Sleeping Beauty was a Fairy Warrior.

2- Rapunzel

This one is easy to explain. You know how she just let her hair grow and grow and grow? And how her mom was the only one to ever be able to brush her long luscious locks?

Well, Rapunzel just couldn’t handle having her hair touched. She had some sensory issues that made her hair hurt like heck when it was touched.

Fibromyalgia patients will often report an oversensitivity to touch. For example, a light touch on the arm may feel like a hundred hot branding irons just landed all at home once on your arm.

My hair is mostly unkept. I only brush it in the shower, when there is conditioner on it. It makes the brush go through a lot smoother than when my hair is dry, or even damp.

Mystery solved: Rapunzel was a Fairy Warrior!

3- Pinocchio

Look, I love that puppet as much as the next person, but can we focus on the fact that Pinocchio was a pathological liar? At least, that’s what the fairytale would have you believe!

How about we consider that Pinocchio had arms and legs that were so stiff, one could say they were made out of wood sticks. And when people asked him who he was and how he was, he just went straight for the white lies. “I’m a real boy,” “I’m doing great…”

And what if Pinocchio just got tired of answering the same questions over and over again. What if he wanted to avoid the questions about his weird gait (have you ever tried walking without being able to bend your knees?) and his mental state (surely he had to be mentally ill to consider himself soooo different than other people!)?

Maybe he just thought that lying his way through life and hiding his true pain was easier than having to face people who constantly question and inquire.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I think I’ve just proven that Pinocchio was a Fairy Warrior!

Cinderella

4- Cinderella

She is a complex one, that Cinderella. She is in so much emotional pain from losing the people who were the dearest to her that she cannot function like a human being around her stepmother. Granted, that woman was the definition of evil, but still. Cinderella felt so alone and misunderstood all the time.

The poor girl drowned herself in her sorrow and in incredibly hard work. Daily, she would push herself to clean, and cook, and care for the household the best way she could. And it was just never good enough.

Maybe Cinderella’s problem was that she was trying g to keep up with her work but just couldn’t. As for the evil stepmother, maybe she just didn’t understand why Cinderella had such a hard time doing anything, which may be why she pestered her to get things done. Maybe the stepmother was frustrated by the fact that Cinderella couldn’t even do the simplest tasks properly…

And should we talk about the all-nighters that crazy gal pulled off? She would suddenly get the urge to work and work and work, going as far as making a dress out of little nothings in one night!

I think Cinderella would just work like a madwoman when she could because she just couldn’t predict when her next good day would be. I think Cinderella did her best with the cleaning and the cooking, but it just wasn’t good enough for her step family’s standards.

I think Cinderella was a Fairy Warrior.

5- Mulan

For those of you guys who do not know who Mulan is, she is the main character in a Chinese tale, that was then reprised by Disney a number of years ago.

In short, her father was called to serve in the Emperor’s army, but he was old and injured. So young Mulan stole his Samurai gear and went in his place.

All was well until she was discovered as being a woman (gasp!). And even though she had saved lives, she was shunned.

There are several messages in the tale. Women are bad, lying is bad, saving lives doesn’t count if you have a uterus, but mostly lying is bad.

Eventually, all is well for Mulan as she ends up saving the Emperor, who has to be some sort of progressist/feminist guy because he pardoned her.

But what if Mulan just couldn’t stand being herself anymore because it had just become insufferable? What if she was tired of hurting and aching? And what if she just didn’t have any other choice but faking to be someone else in order to keep going?

Maybe she just couldn’t stand having to tell people stories about who she was all the time. After all, as Fibro Warriors, we fake all the time.

We pretend we’re not us. And sometimes, we even believe our own lies and after saying for a while that you’re all good, then it takes your mind off of the daily struggles.

It couldn’t be any clearer: Mulan was a Fairy Warrior!

6- Belle

Oh, Belle… How much like you and I are… You want to save the World (well, your pop, really, but you know what I mean).

You volunteer to do a whole bunch of stuff, like taking your dad’s spot in the beast’s castle.

And then, you take refuge in your books, and your only friends are a teapot and creepy clock…  It’s not like you enjoy living with the Beast.  I mean, he is absolutely repulsive. So you try to ignore the Beast.  After all, if you don’t pay attention to him, maybe he will go away.

Yet after a while, you feel trapped and you have no other choice than to accept your Beast.

You learn to live with the Beast and you learn to accept that this is your life and it isn’t much you can do about it.  You can try to escape all you want, through your books or through the door, the Beast follows you around and will always find you…

Sounds familiar? Do I really have to spell out that the Beast is fibromyalgia incarnate?

And that here is why I think Belle was a Fairy Warrior.

7- Snow White

Ah, Snow White. The original princess. The epitome of innocence. The incarnation of 1940s glamour. The polygamy.

Wait, sorry. I forgot it was a fairytale and they’re just “roommates.”  My bad.

If we look a little closer at Snow White’s companions though, they all represent a distinct personality trait. They’re not simply Joe and Bob.

They’re Grumpy and Sleepy and whatever the other guys’ names are. Each one is a feeling, a mood, a mental state. What if Snow White and her friends were just all one and the same. I’m serious. What if each Dwarf was an allegory for the different moods Snow White experiences.

After all, as Fibro Warriors, we know too well how much fibromyalgia can affect the way you go through your day. I think I can relate each and every one of them to something we experience!

Sleepy, Grumpy: those are given.

Doc: we all feel like educating people at some point or another when it comes to the overall ignorance surrounding fibromyalgia.

Dopey: hello, Fibro Fog…

Bashful: how many times do we have to exercise restraint and agree with our interlocutors just so we don’t tell them how wrong they are?

Sneezy: well duh. Obviously, we are sick.

Happy: come on, even Fibro Warriors have got to be happy once in a while! We’re not recluses, and like everyone else, we love being happy!!

Point made: Snow White was a Fairy Warrior.

8- Red riding hood

Let’s re-establish the fact that my thoughts are sometimes, shall we say far-fetched? Bear with me on this one.

Little Red Riding Hood was a cute little girl, prancing about in the meadow, collecting daisies and undoubtedly chasing butterflies.

Next thing you know, her mom asks her to go get Grandma some supper. And there goes the little cutie, going through the woods, absolutely oblivious to basic safety.

I mean, the kid asked a WOLF for directions. If this was a modern tale, he’d lure her into his windowless minivan with candy and a lost puppy… And in all honesty, we probably should blame the parents for not teaching her stranger danger.

Anyhow, she goes to Gram’s house and has the most ridiculous interaction with a WOLF dressed in Grandma’s pajamas. Look, Red. You seem sweet and all, but don’t you know what your grandma looks like!!?

Now let’s take a look at this story from the fibromyalgia point of view. Maybe Red is just super confused. She heard her mom’s directions but they got all jumbled up before they reached her brain.

And yes, she knows what Grammy look like. But sometimes under stressful conditions, there are no coherent thoughts in her mind. And she forgets a TON of things.

How about we be nice to that little girl, and simply accept that Little Red Riding Hood was a Fairy Warrior

9- Ariel

The Little Mermaid is a heartbreaking tale. She is a mermaid, but she desperately wants legs. She wants to walk on land, be a human and quite frankly, she probably grew tired her fishtail family because she is a teenager after all.

She feels misunderstood. She feels like no one gets her suffering. And she even ends up losing her voice.

If we look at the metaphors hidden in the story, we quickly come to the conclusion that she has some sort of lifelong affliction that prevents her from doing the things she dreams of. And no matter how much she tries to speak up, no one hears her.

Dang. That poor girl. The Little Mermaid was a Fairy Warrior.

10- Olaf

One of the most widely popular animated movies of recent years is Frozen. It is basically a Disney remix of the classic Ice Queen, with some creative liberty as to which characters are the good guys and which ones are evil.

The one character that everyone who has a beating heart knows about is Olaf. He is this cute, sassy snowman who comes to life and says the quirkiest things. You love him or you hate him, but you know who he is.

Now the thing with Olaf is that, no matter how cute, he is just a walking contradiction. He likes warm hugs and his favorite season is summer.

Also, he dreams of one day swimming in the ocean and sunbathing on a hot sandy beach. And the people closest to him do not have the heart to tell him that it is just crazy! Doesn’t anyone want to save him from melting?

But that’s beside the point. The point is actually that poor little Olaf is a bit lost in the world. He does not really know where he belongs, and while he loves warmth, he inevitably will be hurt by it.

It reminds me of the sensory sensitivities of Fibro Warriors. I love the beach, but walking on the sand hurts my hips.

I guess it is not too crazy to conjecture that Olaf is a Fairy Warrior!

Bonus – Hansel and Gretel

Look, I feel super bad for the orphan siblings Hansel and Gretel. Their parents can’t afford to feed them so they are abandoned in the forest – by the way, remind to tell my kids that story next time they whine about me being too strict.

And those poor kids, on top of all their trouble, can’t remember for the life of them how to get back home. It’s so bad, they leave breadcrumbs to find their way home.

Like that’s going to work, silly kids! They eventually wise up and drop pebbles (or something like that – I’m fuzzy on the timeline).

Can’t find your own way home? Devising sure-fail plans? Fibro Fog much? You can’t tell me otherwise: Hansel and Gretel were Fairy Warriors.

I could spend a lot more time proving to you that all the Fairy Tale Characters of children’s books are all Fibro Warriors in disguise. I could. But I won’t.

Here is the deal:

  • You can find fibromyalgia everywhere you look.
  • If it’s not fibromyalgia, it’s something else – but everyone is going through some kind of trouble at any given time.
  • The important thing is that all the Fairy Warriors above adaptés to their situation.
  • And in the end, they prevailed! I love a happy ending!

Until next time, Fellow Fibro Warriors! Keep up the good fight.

And they lived happily ever after…

Thanks for reading this article! Let me disclose that I am not a doctor or a healthcare professional in any way, shape or form.  The articles I write simply tell my story. I want to share with others what it is like to have fibromyalgia, with the ups and the downs that come with it. I am not one to sugar coat things, so you can expect blunt honesty from me. My goal is to relate real stories, real feelings, and real physical sensations. It may not be “politically correct” at times, but it is a reflection of my personal experiences. If you would like to share your story with our Fellow Fibro Warriors, feel free to email me at [email protected].

About the author

Servanne Edlund

Servanne Edlund

Narcolepsy. Ankylosing spondylitis. Fibromyalgia. The perfect trifecta to sleep through life! As a mom of two teenagers, I need to keep going - so I have found coping mechanisms to overcome the hurdles placed on my path.

1 Comment

  • The Princess & The Pea! I believe whole heartedly that she most definitely had Fibromyalgia. She couldn’t get comfortable on her mattress because that little Pea created a hard lump which caused her a great deal of pain. Even many mattresses stacked a mile high didn’t alleviate her pain. If there were ever a Fairy Tale that could portray the pain and inability to sleep because of it? It’s DEFINITELY The Princess & The Pea!

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