Fibromyalgia group spreading the word

AWARENESS: Members of the Bendigo fibromyalgia support group. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

AWARENESS: Members of the Bendigo fibromyalgia support group. Picture: JIM ALDERSEY

JUANITA Miller says that even the simplest physical task, such as chopping carrots, is enough to tire her out.

Mrs Miller recently made a Mother's Day dinner for her family, and the meal took her all day to prepare, as she had to take a break each time she chopped a food item.

"It's a challenge every day," Mrs Miller says.

"You feel like you have the flu every day."

Mrs Miller has fibromyalgia, a condition characterised by chronic pain throughout the body.

There is no known cause of the disease, or a cure; patients can only try their best to manage it, through a combination of treatments including medication, massages and meditation.

"Each body will respond differently," Mrs Miller says.

This is one of the reasons Mrs Miller started a fibromyalgia support group in Bendigo 18 months ago.

The group meets once a month to swap advice about techniques and strategies for managing the disease and to provide one another with emotional support.

"There are often a lot of tears in meetings," Mrs Miller says.

"The disease can be quite debilitating."

But Mrs Miller and her support group want to spread the word about fibromyalgia, so the general population can have a better understanding of the challenges sufferers face.

Last Monday the group had an afternoon tea - kindly donated by the Bendigo Corner Store Cafe - to coincide with the national Fibromyalgia Awareness Day.

Julie Holt, another of the group's members, says the day was about raising awareness within the general community, so that people are not dismissive of the disease.

"People don't understand how debilitating it can be to your life," she says.

But she adds that, "You've got to stay positive."

"It's all about pacing and keeping your stress levels low."

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