Why is May 12th International CFS and Fibromyalgia Awareness Day?


Note to the reader;  Never fear!

This is not history class but it is important!


May 12th was chosen as International CFS and Fibromyalgia Awareness Day to honor the Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing who was born on May 12th, 1820.


It is believed she may have had Fibromyalgia and what is now known as SEID (systemic exertions intolerance disease) or ME/CFS (myalgic encephalomyelitis-chronic fatigue syndrome).
Florence Nightingale wrote on July 24th, 1851 about her childhood saying “I had a sickly childhood, the climate of England did not suit me,”florence I could never play like the other children. “I never learnt to write till I was 11 or 12, owing to a weakness in my hands.”

In 1844, she enrolled as a nursing student and in the early 1850’s took a nursing job in London. The hard work during her years there, which included a devastating cholera outbreak and unsanitary conditions, took a toll on her health and she began to suffer from fatigue.

She was sent to work the front lines of the Crimean War from 1854-1856 where she became ill with Crimean Fever a.k.a. Brucellosis.  She suffered from sleepless nights and when she could not sleep through the night she would care for patients.

When she returned home from the Crimean War in 1856, it has been noted that she began to suffer from PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder) and suffered from symptoms of fatigue, muscle weakness, headaches, nausea, breathlessness and heart palpitations.

After returning home, she never made a public appearance, never attended a public function or issued a public statement. However, despite her illness she continued to work strenuously campaigning to have better built hospitals staffed  with trained nurses.

She steadily became worse and was bedridden from 1861-1867. Even though she needed to be carried from room to room, she never stopped working.

The pain continued to progressively worse, yet she continued to write books, interview politicians and advocate for better hospital reform. In 1896 she was permanently bedridden until her death on August 13th, 1910.

Florence Nightingale showed determination, tenacity and dedication. She continued to take care of others even when she was experiencing sleepless nights and her body was fatigued and filled with pain.

Men and women with fibromyalgia are often the main caregiver of children, spouses or family members despite their own illnesses.

Financially, we may have no choice but to continue working through our bad days.

Fibromites around the world have made it their life’s mission to help others who are struggling like themselves.

May is technically the month of International CFS and Fibromyalgia Awareness but all year long these modern day Florence Nightingales are support group leaders, bloggers/authors, researchers, educators, fibromyalgia health coaches and advocates. They have taught us that each voice matters and that together we can make a difference, transforming the lives of those around us.

Florence Nightingale showed us all how to be

Fibro Warriors ~ Living Life.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

5 thoughts on “Why is May 12th International CFS and Fibromyalgia Awareness Day?”

  1. Dear Melissa,

    Thank you for your invaluable work and help for so many people.
    Today is the first time that I have the awareness of the International Fibromyalgia Day. It is because a very friend of mine suffers from fibro.
    I try to help her as much as I can, and also by searching info online.
    I found out your interview with Sophie Meath regarding her short film ‘A Happy Seven’, premiering today.
    My friend doesn’t speak English, but she is very imterested im everything that can be a help for her illness.
    That is why I have translated your interview into Spanish, so she can read it now.
    I tried to share the translation with you, if there were people who are not fluent enough in English.
    However, it was not possible to contact you by email, even though I subscribed to your blog today.
    If you wish, I could send you a PDF file with the translation.

    Once again, I am very grateful for the remarkable support that you do.



    1. You can email me at swansonmjs@gmail.com
      I have been revising my blog over the past month and one of the features I would like to add is the translation button. Thank you so much for what you are doing for your friend. She is very lucky.

Leave a Reply to Melissa Cancel reply