What This Instagram Yogi Wants You To Know About Living With Chronic Pain
This year, we did a post about super-inspirational yogi’s to follow on Insta. We featured popular Instagrammer Angelique Fredericks, talking about how beautiful her shots are. Little did we know, there’s a reason for Angelique’s online presence — and it goes far beyond athletic poses.
Not Just A Pretty Picture
In June this year, Angelique opened up on the ‘Gram about her journey with yoga, and how it was largely influenced by the debilitating condition she has, called fibromyalgia. It’s a condition categorized by widespread pain and accompanies poor sleep, memory and mood issues. “It’s so amazing to be seen as an inspiration and I’ve had some time of reflection since @womenshealthmagsa posted about my account,” Angelique said in her caption. “It’s weird, because the whole reason I even started posting my yoga practice [was] to inspire “normal bodied” people that if I can do it, so can you and most importantly, to bring awareness to what your body is capable of,” she said.
Throwback Thursday♥ It’s so amazing to be seen as an inspiration and I’ve had some time of reflection since @womenshealthmagsa posted about my account. It’s weird because thats the whole reason why I even started posting my yoga practice.To inspire “normal bodied” people that if I can do it so can you and most importantly to bring awareness to what your body is capable of even if it seems like it’s impossible. I’m always asked why I never share my story. Part of the reason is because I am sensitive to it ’cause it is never nice being told you’re lying about a serious health condition and partly because I don’t want to be synonymous with Fibromyalgia. So I decided to share it today. I was diagnosed and have had it for over 15 years. I probably never would’ve started practising yoga because it didn’t align with my faith. However my Dr’s, physiotherapist and friends encouraged me to try it because at the time I was suffering from severe “flare ups” ( when all the symptoms i experience is like on level 1000000 of Mario Brothers) that would only be relieved by a trip to the emergency room a morphine drip and a few days of steroids. I had had enough of being a health hostage in my own body and thought about giving it a shot so I did. Thank God I gave it a chance because it has been the best decision of my life. My flare ups and trips to the ER aren’t as much as recent years and I am more capable of functioning most days. This might be odd to hear because it seems like I have it “together” and my practice is fairly advanced. I am active because I have to be to function but what’s normal for you is never normal or easy for me- seems weird considering pretzel shaped yoga poses you’ve seen. Some days I can barely touch my toes nevermind do a simple yoga pose. Being active is essential in life and beneficial for everyone. I think it’s fundamental when you suffer from chronic illness. Yoga gave me a chance to live a different life. I do it for me and I share in hopes that it might help you change your life too. No one knows your struggle or what it takes for you to get to where you are. It’s truly an honour to be recognised as an inspiration♥♥♥ #UrdhvaDhanurasana
When Angelique was around 11 years old, she began experiencing pains in her legs and back. She saw numerous doctors, but nobody could find anything wrong with her. “At that age you tend to believe the grown-ups so I didn’t give it much thought,” she says. “But these symptoms persisted throughout my adolescence. I was an athlete and a gymnast since primary school until my late teens and still, I was experiencing the same symptoms and some cognitive challenges related to FMS.” After checking with the doc again, she was told to ease up on the workouts, the thinking being that her pains were exercise-related. But they were wrong.
“In 2008, my second year of university, I was in a car accident that changed my whole life,” says Angelique. “I had suffered a concussion and had 68 stitches on my forehead, nose, brow and hairline.
“Due to the brain trauma, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, severe anxiety, depression and insomnia. Unbeknown to me, the trauma also triggered fibromyalgia. I experienced almost every symptom under the sun, the worst being the widespread pain: neurological pain, joint pain, inflammation, muscle tenderness, cognitive and sensory impairments and fatigue, just to name a few.” Even then, her condition went undiagnosed. Three years later, Angelique was in the bathroom and her mother walked in on her and found a giant bruise on her back, bluish in colour and the shape of a butterfly. It covered her entire back. “I hadn’t had a fall and I’d always had this back problem so I was self-medicating and resting as much as I could,” she said. Still, she was in immense pain and for a period of three months, couldn’t walk more than 20 paces. Doctors conducted MRI scans and blood tests, all of which came back inconclusive. “At this point I was so frustrated and irritated. I had had enough of my body sabotaging my life so I decided to do some research and deducted that I had fibromyalgia,” says Angelique. “The third doctor referred me to an endocrinologist and I was diagnosed with the one illness that sounds like a made-up name – fibromyalgia.”
Omming It Out
Having fibro meant being in a world of pain, and yoga unlocked mobility and eased the stiffness in her body. “It was the best discovery of my life,” says Angelique. Her first class was Bikram, a slow-moving yoga in a heated room. “The very next day, I felt a big difference and much less pain and stiffness. I think the heat was the best thing for loosening up my muscles,” she says. “Have you ever just stretched and feel like you pulled your whole life together? That’s exactly what finding yoga felt like. Like I had an answer to making myself feel better; like I was a little in control of me again.” Because yoga became such an integral part of her recovery, her practice advanced, which is why she’s able to pull off the incredible poses you see on her feed. But living with fibro means every day is different, and often she can’t even touch her toes. “It’s hard as fudge getting out of bed and doing simple tasks; I struggle with it even though I do all these crazy poses,” she says.
This is why her Instagram account is more than just #fitspo; it’s a means of encouragement for able-bodied people who need that extra push. “I always say if I can do it so can you,” says Angelique. “You don’t do yoga to be flexible or strong, you do it to become that and more. Don’t be discouraged by seeing me being a pretzel on Instagram. I’m living proof that yoga makes life better.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.