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Chronic Illness & Bras: An Uphill Battle

If you have a chronic illness that includes generalized pain in its symptoms, the struggle to find a bra that doesn’t hurt is probably very familiar to you. Well, for me, it has been a very important component of my journey towards learning how to live with chronic illness, and this journey is, I fear, far from over.

In the beginning of 2015, I went to my PE class in college like I always did. I remember the exact date: March 26th, 2015. During a warmup muscular & cardio routine prepared by fellow students, my muscles suddenly started to feel very weak and painful. Not quite understanding what was going on, I tried my best to continue, but I couldn’t do half of the exercises. Then, after the warmup, we all sat down to listen to a short lecture by the teacher. And after that, I couldn’t get up. My muscles were screaming in pain like they never had. My legs ached for 6 days straight. I started being extremely fatigued. I started having back aches whenever I stood up for too long, and then back aches all the time. I became unable to hold the guard position for fencing because my muscles hurt too much, so I only passed the course and got my degree because my teacher was willing to cheat a little bit and tweak my results to make me pass. If I hadn’t passed this, I was stuck for at least a year, unable to go to university because I couldn’t get my degree; I believe he did it because I was a good student, but I can’t imagine the impact it would have had on my life to be forced out of studying for a whole year. I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in the following months by my amazing GP; and I’m not saying this ironically, she believed my pain right away and started medication even before tests confirmed the diagnosis.

But the worst part of this was: I couldn’t wear bras. Underwires hurt like hell. I felt like my ribs were about to break. The band made my back extremely sore everyday. And it’s not like I didn’t really know my bra size: I was 30DD/E back then. I’ve gained a cup size because I gained weight since then, but I knew the problem was not with my bras. I had searched to hell and back to find my true size and stumbled upon the A Bra That Fits community on Reddit during the years preceding the start of my illness. I had been wearing the right bra size for about a year when all of this happened.

My whole body was betraying me and driving me in an agony of pain and despair everyday, but bras really made everything so much worse. Having a big cup size and a small ribcage, I can’t really go sans bra, and I can’t either wear store-bought bralettes (the choice became surprisingly varied in the last year, but back then the only choice was those Genie/Aaaah bras that don’t come in my size).

I strongly considered getting breast reduction surgery just to get rid of this burden. And I must admit that I still consider it to this day, but I’m having hopes of finding other avenues. When all you see is pain and nobody really seems to have solutions for you, it is hard to open your eyes and actively consider solutions that demand more work to achieve but give you a better outcome than doing nothing at all.

I am currently a year and 3/4 in my illness. I have, overall, gotten my fibromyalgia in check through exercise and supplements, and I’m starting to find better solutions to my bra problems. I still face a huge obstacle: money. But through this blog I will document my search for the one true perfect bra, in hopes that it helps people become more conscious of how important it is to get the right bra size, and in hope that it gives some hints and solutions to my fellow chronically ill people regarding bra fitting.

Stay supported.



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