Janeane Garofalo is a stand-up comedienne who has probably come to be known as much for her social activism as her creative work.
Starting out in the early 90’s on SNL before moving onto the Larry Sanders Show, Janeane has had a career in comedy for close to two decades. Her work includes a number of big-budget film roles and she was even the first choice to star opposite Ed Norton/Brad Pitt in Fight Club before she turned the role down.
In the early 2000’s, Garofalo became known as one of the most outspoken celebrity critics of the Iraq War and a staunch campaigner for progressive causes and feminism.
But it turns out that through, like the other celebrities with fibromyalgia on this list, it all she was struggling with fibromyalgia. In addition, she has long struggled with other mental health issues including depression and anxiety.
The Irish singer, best known her hit song “Nothing Compares 2 U,” has struggled with fibromyalgia for most of her life. And her background of childhood abuse lends some credence to the idea that childhood trauma may play a role in developing fibromyalgia.
She was the victim of physical abuse for much of her childhood and was sent to live in Catholic girls home after shoplifting as a teenager where she and many other children were abused regularly.
Like many celebrities with fibromyalgia, she didn’t learn the source of her chronic pain until her late 30’s.
Michael James Hastings
You may remember Michael Hastings as “Captain Mike” from the hit TV series The West Wing. But what you may not know is that Hastings actually took up acting because of his fibromyalgia.
Originally, Hastings was a school teacher who was forced to retire at 35 due to his fibromyalgia. At that point, he decided to seek work as an extra in Hollywood, simply to make a bit of extra money. After joining the Screen Actors Guild, Hastings was tapped for his most famous role as a Navy captain.
After leaving the series, Hastings has become a fibromyalgia advocate working to raise awareness of the disease and find a cure.
While she may not be an obvious choice for a list of celebrities with fibromyalgia, Florence Nightingale is perhaps the most famous nurse of all time. During the Crimean War, she organized a team of nurses to tend to wounded soldiers, which transformed her into a hero in the media of the day.
After she returned to England she helped reform and modernize the practice of nursing by establishing her own school for nurses, which has led many to consider her the founder of modern nursing.
And while fibromyalgia wasn’t known at the time, many have speculated that the mysterious illness Florence had was none other than fibromyalgia. She was known to retreat to her room for days on end with chronic fatigue and generalized pain, which sounds very much like fibromyalgia. But she still managed to lead an extremely influential life.
The lead singer of the band Rosie and the Originals, Rosie Hamlin had a challenging life in many ways. She recorded the first version of her hit song “Angel Baby” with a group of friends as a teenager before managing to convince a record label to give her a contract after hearing them play it in a department store.
Unfortunately, the label didn’t list her as the songwriter, which made her unable to collect any royalties from her biggest hit. After a decade of legal battles, she finally won back the rights to her own song and went on to tour regularly for 40 years. John Lennon even listed her as one of her favorite singers.
Rosie also struggled with fibromyalgia for many years. Luckily, with the help of good doctors, she was able to find treatments that helped her manage her symptoms and allowed her to keep up the demanding life of a touring musician for most of her life, making her one of our top six celebrities with fibromyalgia.
No list of celebrities with fibromyalgia is complete without Morgan Freeman, a very successful actor who has been in dozens of films and is known for his soothing voice, which has lead to voice over work for many shows and documentaries.
He has also suffered from severe fibromyalgia since a serious car wreck a few years ago when the car he was driving flipped over and he had to be pulled out with the jaws of life. Here’s how a reporter for Esquire Magazine described it upon meeting him:
Every so often he grabs his left shoulder and winces. It hurts when he walks, when he sits still, when he rises from his couch, and when he missteps in a damp meadow. More than hurts. It seems a kind of agony, though he never mentions it. There are times when he cannot help but show this, the fallout from a car accident four years ago, in which the car he was driving flipped and rolled, leaving Freeman and a friend to be pulled from the car using the Jaws of Life. Despite surgery to repair nerve damage, he was stuck with a useless left hand. It is stiffly gripped by a compression glove most of the time to ensure that blood doesn’t pool there. It is a clamp, his pain, an icy shot up a relatively useless limb. He doesn’t like to show it, but there are times when he cannot help but lose himself to a world-ending grimace. It’s such a large gesture, so outside the general demeanor of the man, that it feels as if he’s acting.
“It’s the fibromyalgia,” he says when asked. “Up and down the arm. That’s where it gets so bad. Excruciating.”
Yet in spite of living with one arm, Freeman finds time to care for his large farm and golf regularly. He, like all of these people, show what you can accomplish in spite of fibromyalgia.