Life as a Fibro Warrior, According to Lady Gaga, Selma Blair & Frida Kahlo

Did you know there is an eclectic bunch of celebrities united by something they all have in common? They’re fibro warriors. In recognition of 12 May being Fibromyalgia Awareness Day, we spotlight these fibro warriors and highlight their inspiration and tips for living with fibromyalgia. Some you may even recognise their stories below.

Lady Gaga & fibromyalgia

Lady Gaga is known to perform with intensity, so when she revealed she lives with fibromyalgia before the release of her documentary "Gaga: Five Foot Two" in September 2017, she surprised many of her fans. She attributes her fibromyalgia diagnosis to PTSD caused by psychological stress and an injury she sustained while on tour. There have been times when her pain has been so bad she couldn't perform and was hospitalised in 2017, resulting in the cancellation of several planned concerts.

Lady Gaga explains “...it’s really a cyclone of anxiety, depression, PTSD, trauma, and panic disorder, all of which sends the nervous system into overdrive, and then you have nerve pain as a result.”

“My pain does me no good unless I transform it into something that is.”

These acts of transformation can often take a toll and she has also recognised that “People need to be more compassionate. Chronic pain is no joke. And it’s every day waking up not knowing how you’re going to feel.”

Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman was involved in a life-threatening car accident in 2008 and needed the “the jaws of life” to cut him free. He suffered multiple injuries, including a broken arm, a broken elbow and shoulder damage. He continues to experience “excruciating” nerve pain and now lives with fibromyalgia. Even on the red carpet, he has been spotted wearing a compression glove to help ease his joint pain. His motto for living with the persistent pain is:

“I only get one life, and I will not let Fibromyalgia take the joy from living it.”

Sinead O'Connor

Sinead O’Connor, an Irish singer-songwriter, stepped back from her career to manage her illness and mitigate stress in her life. She takes a practical, gentle approach and acknowledges that “It's the tiredness part that I have difficulty with. You get to know your patterns and limits, though, so you can work and plan around it.”

“Fibromyalgia is not curable. But it’s manageable.”

Selma Blair

Selma Blair lives with fibromyalgia and revealed an MS diagnosis on Instagram in October 2018. She openly shared her struggles with pain management, exhaustion, parenting, and not being “taken seriously by doctors” while seeking a diagnosis. The MS diagnosis took 20 years! Her fans and fellow celebrities shared high praise when she walked the Vanity Fair Oscars red carpet with a cane. In 2022, she appeared on Dancing with the Stars. Despite performing weekly high-energy dance routines, she left the competition due to her fibro symptoms worsening.

She is incredibly candid about her life experience.

“I am disabled. I fall sometimes. I drop things. My memory is foggy. And my left side is asking for directions from a broken GPS. But we are doing it. And I laugh and I don’t know exactly what I will do precisely but I will do my best.”

Knowledge is power

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Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo was an early 20th-century artist believed to have suffered from fibromyalgia symptoms, including pain and fatigue. It's thought she suffered from post-traumatic fibromyalgia, possibly triggered by a violent street car accident at age 18. She lived with ongoing widespread pain, had multiple invasive corrective surgeries, several miscarriages, and recurrent fatigue. Art became her way of processing her health condition and focusing her mind on something she enjoyed. Even though she often painted with a mirror attached to the roof while lying in bed, her self-portrait-inspired art depicts a woman bound, nailed, and pierced in locations strongly affected by fibromyalgia pain.

“I used to think I was the strangest person in the world but then I thought there are so many people in the world, there must be someone just like me who feels bizarre and flawed in the same ways I do. I would imagine her, and imagine that she must be out there thinking of me too...

Well, I hope that if you are out there and read this and know that, yes, it's true I'm here, and I'm just as strange as you.”

Nikki Marshall

Nikki Marshall, production editor at the Guardian newspaper has also been very candid about the challenges of living with fibromyalgia. Her coping strategies formed a helpful piece in the recent series about chronic pain (‘The pain that cannot be seen”). She says her ‘ladder of treatments and good habits built over the past year, rung by rung’ include medication, getting plenty of sleep, yoga, walking, and mindful breathing. She describes her approach with the words “a happy buzz makes the hurt recede, so I savour every bit of pleasure and joy that comes my way.”

“The understanding and support of people around me: a simple “I’m sorry you’re feeling this way” can mean the world.”

In part 2 of "Life as a Fibro Warrior" we introduce you to some real life fibro warriors and MoreGoodDays alumni who are living well in spite of chronic pain.