Aditi Gupta On Her Struggle With Fibromyalgia And Finding Strength In The Pain
- IWB Post
- May 3, 2019
Aditi defines herself as a “life enthusiast, traveler, and motivator.” She is a motivational blogger who “writes to beautify souls and strengthen minds to overcome every mighty problem that may come in the way.” Just like her happy face, the picture appears all right so far, right?
“A few years ago, I was a completely different being than I am today,” says Aditi. She was the kind of student our parents dream for us to be like. A topper throughout her school, Aditi got through National Institute of Technology, Warangal, pretty effortlessly, where she topped every exam that she appeared in until the second year of her college.
It was sometime in August 2014 that Aditi contracted food poisoning which was, of course, accompanied by severe stomach pain. By the next night, she was writing in insufferable pain.
“Little did I know, that the storm was never going to pass, it was going to stay there with me for all the years ahead like a loyal partner,” says Aditi.
She went to one doctor after another and all of them kept telling her that it was all in her head and she should concentrate on her academics. When the pain became unbearable sans any relevant diagnosis, she had to resort to her own faculties as she researched the symptoms.
It was during a visit to Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, Lucknow, when finally a doctor gave her an understanding smile and said, “it’s Fibromyalgia.” Aditi knew it! She had researched well, all she was seeking was acknowledgment, so much so that she had jotted all the symptoms on MS Word and carried the printout to the hospital.
“It’s a monster that lives inside you 24*7, causes pain in 10,000 parts of your body all at once even more than that in cancer,” says Aditi.
Fibromyalgia “is a painful musculoskeletal disease characterized by widespread muscle pain, oversensitivity to common pain, extreme fatigue and sleep, mood and memory problems.
Yes, something like that does exist and has sworn to be my life partner forever, it’s called Fibromyalgia,” says Aditi.
It is almost impossible to detect the disease by taking a look at the patient and a lack of understanding is what led toa plethora of doctors misdiagnosing it.
“Crazy, you may call it, but that’s how it is, a very rare, invisible and incurable auto-immune disease,” Aditi told me. My heart stopped with a thump there as my brain processed the term “auto-immune”… Auto Immune… AUTO-IMMUNE. Oh my God!
My cousin Dushyant had been complaining of severe pain in his legs for almost a year and a half. His academic performance hit an all-time low and he couldn’t concentrate on his music anymore. He was taken to a number of doctors who suggested him to concentrate on his career and do away with his excuses. During the visits to the doctors, somebody mentioned the possibility of an “auto-immune” disease but somehow ghosts and spirits made more sense to gullible Indian mindsets.
Dushyant was taken to an occultist who assured the family that he was being troubled by some spirit and he will cure him within a month. That somehow made sense to everyone, a huge amount of money was paid, and at the end of it, he was squirming in pain despite all the magic threads, holy mantras, and amulets. When he kept complaining of the pain despite being treated by the “expert” occultist, it was decided that the ghosts were a conjuring of his own mind to dodge studies and that was the last development in the case before I narrated Aditi’s story to them.
What is more painful? Writhing in insufferable pain or being told that you are faking it? Just like Dushyant, Aditi was blamed the same way, was asked to stop making excuses and go back to her college even by the majority of doctors she consulted. In a 30-minute conversation with me, Aditi redeemed my cousin from his situation as I shared the details with his family. She is now on a mission to help many others through her blog Calm Insights.
“Calm Insights, the name itself explains its mission. The website intends to inspire millions. Obstacles in life in the form of competitive, physical, financial, marital and many fears and insecurities appear and make us aimless and hopeless! Know that there always are constructive things along the way. Once we are positive and look for the possibilities instead of dwelling on the grief, things do get better,” writes Aditi.
The blog came into existence because she suffered to the core and still does. “Yes, I did convert my wounds into my strength,” asserts the 22-year-old.
“The monster never left me, but I am really grateful to it for having chosen me out of millions of other people,” she says as I ask how does she feel grateful for the excruciating pain? She answers, “Because it has taught me to appreciate life more and has given me immense strength. It has paved a path for me and I want to help others like me now.”
She lives by the following quote from Kylie McPherson:
“Being able to walk pain-free is a blessing;
Being able to walk without showing the pain is a skill.”
Then I ask what a regular day in her life is like? “Every morning, I wake up with a pain, feeling like someone has beaten me up badly and a lot of time goes by in twisting and turning. But once I manage to pull myself out of the bed, I always start my day by reading or writing something. I have yoga sessions at the hospital from 3-4 and Cognitive Behavior Therapy from 5-6. I come back home exhausted and again read or write something. Recently, people have started calling me, seeking help and admiring my strength. At the end of the day, I pat my back for making it through the day despite the pain. And you know what, I recently earned from my blog.”
She has been visiting National Institute of Mental Health & Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), Bangalore, for two months now. The doctors there are understanding and have taught her the importance of mental health and strength in fighting the pain. “I am learning pain management techniques there,” she shares. I immediately ask, what are they?
“Well, they are treating me by adopting a psychological approach. Stress is a trigger to the pain and that is why they have asked me to do things which make me happy and stay away from negative people and situations. I am undergoing cognitive behavior therapy. They have also taught body scan meditation, which is a technique of mindfulness.”
There are times when Aditi is told to drop out of her college and get married so that she will have somebody to take care of her but she doesn’t want to depend on somebody else. There have been phases of financial crisis and that is why she took up tutoring as she does not want to over-burden her parents who have five other children besides Aditi.
Aditi thinks of the disease as a blessing in disguise. She has found a silver lining in the strength that her fight against the disease provided her with. Of course, there are days when the pain is too much to take and her body crashes. She shared an incident with me.
“Recently, I was traveling to my college from U.P. I woke up with high fever in the morning and severe body ache. I immediately asked the guys sitting next to my berth to call my dad if I die on the train or drop me anywhere at the platform of the Nagpur station where I had called a friend. I fainted on the train, my friend from Nagpur tweeted my PNR to railway ministry and medical assistance was sent. I was running 104 fever and my B.P. was very low. My condition was very serious for the following 2-3 days.”
Perhaps this is why a lot of people suffering from the disease decide on ending their lives but Aditi certainly is not one of them. Even at her young age, she knows the value of life, respects it and cherishes it.
“I don’t think any kind of problem is worth making you give up on life. Despite 28 days of extreme pain, I have two days when I can go out, buy things, sit on a hilltop and fell blessed for still being alive,” says Aditi.
Morgan Freeman and Lady Gaga are some of the celebrities who suffer from Fibromyalgia and continue being exceptional artists despite the nerve-wracking pain. Perhaps Aditi is right when she says with great suffering comes greater strength. Perhaps there is indeed a silver lining in everything after all and we should look at adversities as a blessing in disguise just like Aditi.
This article was first published on March 17, 2018.