Denise Kemp from Ferring has been in constant pain for four years with an often-misunderstood illness, and has shared her story to raise awareness.
For most people, the first thing they will do in the morning is stick the kettle on or make breakfast.
But for Denise Kemp, her routine is taking five tablets just so she can get out of bed.
The 27-year-old from Florida Gardens, Ferring, has had fibromyalgia for more than four years: an incurable condition that causes widespread pain all over the body and comes with symptoms like fatigue and irritable bowel syndrome.
She said: “When I first found out I had it, I thought: what am I going to do? I can’t work, and I can’t live a normal life. But now I see it as a different normal.
“The harsh reality is I will never be the same as I was.”
Having had back problems since the age of 18, the former community carer blamed it on her job.
But the pain worsened to such an extent that Denise was unable to work any more and got laid off.
Suddenly, the fun-loving woman who would work 60 to 70 hours a week and go out socialising on a week night was replaced by someone with a wrecked sleep pattern and in constant pain.
With time on her hands, a string of failed tests and scans and doctors stumped as to what was wrong with her, Denise researched her own symptoms online and suggested to her GP it could be fibromyalgia – leading to a breakthrough.
With the love and support of her wife of three years Hannah, who she described as ‘not just a brick, but a brick wall’, Denise has been able to rebuild her life, getting a part-time job on the tills in Sainsbury’s
Local in Goring Road, Goring and joining Fibromyalgia Support for Worthing and West Sussex, a Worthing-based patient group that met once a month to discuss their issues.
Denise, who took around 30 pills a day to manage her symptoms, said her next goal was to fundraise for a cure.
According to the NHS, one in 20 people suffered from it, she said: “It isn’t a well-known condition, but it is a very common condition.”