Did Frida Kahlo have Fibromyalgia?

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Frida Kahlo, a Mexican artist, after a bus accident may have suffered from fibromyalgia. What is sure is that she suffered from chronic pain that she expressed through her paintings with forceful colors and expressionism. Many of her works inspired artists with the pain symbolism that was so vivid.

Undergoing 35 surgeries following her accident, Frida kept on producing great works and living a tumultuous life to the extreme despite her chronic pain. Few people could better display fortitude under duress from fibromyalgia. After the accident Frida lived her life with constant pain and fatigue.  She spent months immobilized in plaster casts, trying to repair her spine that had three vertebrae out of place. 

It was all through this time, confined to bed but with the edginess of youth, in which she took up painting.  She was not a naturally gifted artist, but she was determined.  Frida spent hours poring over art history books and when she was well enough she began an apprenticeship with a popular Mexican painter. A woman bound and pierced in locations is depicted by Frida Kahlo’s art that can be strongly exaggerated by fibromyalgia pain.

Even though the diagnosis didn’t exist in Kahlo’s life span, current women living with fibromyalgia may find her art and obsession exciting. Frida Kahlo, an artist who made her mark in the early 20th century in Mexico, may seem far removed from the challenges of living with fibromyalgia in the contemporary United States. Up till now some experts consider she might have suffered from fibromyalgia symptoms, including tenderness and exhaustion. Undeniably, her self-portraits depicting unkind wire around her neck and nails in her body may hit a harmony in others all too well-known with fibromyalgia pain.

Her self-portraits often reflected her pain.  The most well-known of these portraits is called The Broken Column. She found a way to live in and around her limitations. She found a way to express her pains and fears and by doing so she left behind a beautiful legacy in her art. 

 

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Broken Column via Frida Kahlo

She did not give up or become a victim, even when she was in bed, chest-to-toe in a plaster cast.  It is strange to feel a connection to someone you will never know, but her art and her life story have touched me deeply.  She is an inspiration to anyone living with chronic pain. Trauma, including car crashes and sexual or physical abuse, seems to correlate with a fibromyalgia diagnosis. The subject of Kahlo’s chronic pain runs throughout her art, which frequently depicts her own body bound, wrecked, or roofed with nails, and also is referenced in her diaries.

People with fibromyalgia may have 11 or more “tender points” on their bodies – locations where pain is intense. Kahlo’s work seems to line up with these locations. People looking at her art will feel a kinship, recognition, a validation. But because there was no official diagnosis at that time, it’s hard to know for sure what exactly troubled the famous painter. The theme of her paintings make apparent that bodily and emotional pain were on her mind, but those things also motivated her to paint and may have been overstated for dramatic effect.( You are reading this on FibromyalgiaResources.com)

Just as some experts believe in the possibility that Kahlo had fibromyalgia, some argue that Kahlo’s pain was due purely to her accident and subsequent surgeries, and others raise the possibility of chronic back pain.

Although there is no certain diagnosis available, yet there is a lot that contemporary women (and men) living with fibromyalgia can get inspiration from the artist’s passionate life and work:

Hope and comfort

I think people find a lot of hope and solace in both her work and her writings. The Frida Center’s art, script, and physical activity contributions were devised with this in mind. Participants receive a button with Kahlo’s image on it as a symbol of their commitment to the center’s community and to their hope for living a more vibrant life despite pain.

Community

Kahlo suffered powerfully with feeling that she did not fit in. But at the same time, she built a strong community of friends and supporters who believed in her and her work.

Passion

Fibromyalgia pain and exhaustion can control your life to the exclusion of everything else that benefit you. Kahlo was committed to her art despite her pain – inspiration for anyone who wants to be associated with more than his or her condition.

Tenacity

There were days when Kahlo was in surplus ache to do anything other than lie down, but she still painted. She suspended a canvas above her.

Making art or music or being involved in creative endeavors may be beneficial to people living with chronic pain, for people who are dealing with chronic disease, creative expression can be a source of hope in a never-ending routine of self-management. Indeed, many of the Frida Center’s studio participants take pride in their artwork and feel a sense of accomplishment that might otherwise be absent from the daily challenges of living with fibromyalgia.

Yet if a person cannot paint or skill or spin a ceramic wheel, there is still a sense of creation in each of us, other creative activities you might try are gardening, cooking, and dancing to your favorite music. Engagement with our creative force has the potential to heal physical, emotional, and spiritual pain, adding that creative work reduces pain levels, stress, anxiety, and time spent in the hospital.

Related Article:

Celebrities who have Fibromyalgia

References:

  • Frida Kahlo probably had fibromyalgia via Well Body Mind Heart Spirit
  • Fibromyalgia-like Pain in Frida Kahlo’s Paintings via Fibro Haven

For support and Discussion join the group “Living with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Illness”

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