Having spent most of my summer in hospital for chronic pain and inflammation, it’s always a positive when I hear of famous people who are bringing chronic illness and pain to the forefront of the media spotlight. Fibromyalgia, lupus, chrons, depression and anxiety are just some of the major health issues which have been flagged by mainstream celebs recently.
I was looking forward to the much anticipated Lady Gaga documentary on Netflix which detailed her battle with Fibromyalgia, though this was not actually named during the programme, it was clear that she does suffer from many similar symptoms which us fibro warriors fight on a day to day basis. However much her, and the director thought that it would bring light and a more open view point to this debilitating condition, did it really portray what life is like with a chronic pain condition?
Having now realised that I had this condition since a child, through high school and was only diagnosed in my early 30s, I have come to understand my body and listen to what it needs, what my triggers are and how I can best help myself to lead a “normal” life. The lifestyle of Gaga is far from normal, but she does have aspects of her life like we all do where you can see she is low on “spoons” and cannot be bothered to dress properly, wash her hair and make an effort with people. However, she does have a huge staff team behind her with The Hause of Gaga who provide everything from filling the stairs with helium balloons, cooking, cleaning, wardrobe, make up and even a team of physios and masseuse who are there to mend her aches and flares.
This was the part which made me wonder if it was actually helping the chronic illness community or doing more harm. To me it displayed that the only way to lead a normal life was to have money and the staff on hand to fix and help you at a moment’s notice. From what I understood, her pain stems from a broken hip which occurred a number of years ago. This is not really in keeping with the widespread pain and fatigue that many face on a daily basis, where the root cause cannot be found. But, if we had staff to do everything for us, would we also be that spritely and bouncy first thing in the morning?
It would have been nice to avoid the celebrity cliches, the weed smoking, references to taking class A drugs, three people to rub you all over and trained make up artists who are there to gauge the number of people outside the door so you have just enough eyeliner. The scene where she shops at Wal-Mart to buy here own CD and munchies, posts the video on Instagram of her using the self check out then discusses it on how she’s keeping it real – whilst on her private jet – was the tip of the irony iceberg.
It begs the question, does money make chronic illness easier? Will this be how friends and family think our lives should be and how we are behind closed doors if we get help and assistance at home? Many of us cancel plans and feel guilty, Gaga cancels parts of her world tour and is showered with gifts well wishes from fans and celebs like Beyonce, who use it as a tool for promotion of her clothing line. Normally, if we are lucky our friends are understanding, but what generally happens is we get sidelined and pushed out of friendship groups as we are unreliable.
Have you seen the documentary? I would love to hear your thoughts on how it depicts chronic illness to the world. If you could say one thing to the world about chronic illness, what would it be? Leave your comments below or on Facebook.
I feel I must add, I adore Gaga and her work, the Jonanne album is on my playlist in the car all the time, these views are my own and not the same across the fibro community as many loved how she came across. I saw it in a different light which I hope I have reflected here.
Love, hugs and John Wayne,