Hi. My name is Riya Chaudhry. I am eighteen years old. I really enjoy Thai food and my favorite Thai dish is Pad Kra Prow. I have always loved dogs and when I was 6 I wailed in the car for an hour because my Dad refused to buy me a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel(yes, this a dog breed). My favorite flower is a Plumeria. I truly believe that the Village of Eze in France is the most beautiful place in the entire world. My favorite book is the Kite Runner. I really wish I knew how to sing well. I like to smell candles. I am passionate about empowering women and believe all women are more powerful than they believe. I use poetry to channel my emotions. I paint to relieve stress. My favorite colors are red and lavender. I want to live in Hawaii one day. I want to be a doctor because I love science and want to help others. I want to change the world.
These are all things about me that my illnesses did not take away. As most people with chronic illness do, I have spent a long time lamenting the part of me that I lost with my good health. However, I got so caught up in grief and anger, I didn't realize that most of me is still here. I still have a lot control over myself. I don't belong to fibromyalgia even if it feels like it at times; I am still my own.
It's hard to remember that we are own person when fibromyalgia spreads pain throughout our body and weakens our mind with fatigue. In the midst of flare ups and fatigue episodes, when it feels like we are imprisoned by our illness, think of everything that is still yours: your interests, your preferences, your art, the love you give out, the wishes you make, etc. These are all yours to keep, for as long as you would like.
Since I started my Instagram account, I have come across so many people using their illnesses to spread awareness and make other feel less alone. Even while describing their worst flare ups, their words drip with any emotion but defeat. Their illness took away comfort and certainty, but it made their soul even more resilient. They so bravely turned adversity into ambition and strength, and it inspires me so much.
If you suffer from an illness, remember that you are brave and know that you are still your own person.