Fibromyalgia is a painful condition with unknown causes. Common symptoms include:

  • widespread pain
  • stiffness
  • digestive issues
  • headaches
  • numb hands and feet
  • fatigue and sleeping difficulties
  • anxiety and depression

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 2 percent of American adults have fibromyalgia. It’s also most common in middle-aged women, although the reasons for this aren’t know.

There are many unknown aspects of fibromyalgia that need attention to better help people with this condition. A small percentage of the population have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. But the actual number could be much higher from undiagnosed cases.

Like other diseases, fibromyalgia doesn’t discriminate. More celebrities with the condition are speaking out more than ever before. Learn about what they have to say about fibromyalgia.

Read more: Is fibromyalgia real or imagined? »

Morgan Freeman is a celebrity that seems to be everywhere, whether he’s acting in movies, playing voices for animated roles, or narrating films. On top of that, Freeman is also an outspoken advocate for fibromyalgia awareness.

In an interview with Esquiremagazine, Freeman discussed not being able to do certain activities anymore, such as sailing, due to his fibromyalgia. Yet he wanted readers to know that the condition isn’t all gloomy. He stated, “There is a point to changes like these. I have to move on to other things, to other conceptions of myself. I play golf. I still work. And I can be pretty happy just walking the land.” Life doesn’t stop with fibromyalgia, and Freeman wants others to know this.

This singer-songwriter is no stranger to controversial and sensitive topics. Despite her talent and Grammy-winning record, in 2013 O’Connor abruptly declared she was quitting the music business. She attributed her departure to severe pain and fatigue due to fibromyalgia. At first, O’Connor was quoted as saying that her career in music was to blame. “It rendered me invisible. Murdered my soul. I’m never going back to music,” she announced.

O’Connor has had her share of health issues, including bipolar disorder, PTSD, and recovery from a hysterectomy. After taking time off from her career, O’Connor later said, “When you get something like fibromyalgia it’s a gift, actually, because you have to reassess your life.” O’Connor has since returned to her musical career.

Since her career took off in the 1990s, comedian Janeane Garofalo has made audiences laugh at her dry sense of humor and cynicism. While Garofalo has covered a wide range of topics over the years, her health has taken center stage recently. She hasn’t been widely quoted in interviews or other more formal contexts. But she talks about her fibromyalgia as a part of her stand-up act. In 2009, she told her audience, “I had no idea I was chronically dissatisfied,” in reference to her new treatment involving antidepressants.

Other celebrities have demonstrated it’s important to keep a positive outlook when dealing with fibromyalgia. And as Garofalo demonstrates, it may also help to laugh it off once in a while.

Learn more: How does fibromyalgia affect women? »

Jo Guest is a former British model who had to quit her career due to severe fibromyalgia symptoms. In a 2008 article published in the Daily Mail, Guest was quite blunt about how fibromyalgia changed her life. “At first I thought it was just a virus, but it just wouldn’t stop. I was getting up and being sick all morning and having to spend the afternoon in bed,” she recalled. At first, Guest’s doctor wasn’t able to figure out what was wrong with her. “When you come out of hospital and you’re told everything’s normal, you should be happy, but I don’t want to be told everything’s normal — I just want to be told what’s wrong with me,” she said.

Since 2008, more awareness has given way to earlier treatment interventions that help people with fibromyalgia have a better quality of life. Still, the extent of the mystery condition can indeed be career-changing, as in Guest’s case.

Rosie Hamlin, the late lead singer of Rosie and the Originals, was beloved for her musical talents and her fearlessness in taking on fibromyalgia. In an interview with Fibromyalgia Aware magazine, Hamlin discussed her struggles with the condition. It depleted her ability to take on normal everyday tasks. She said, “I’ve always been extremely energetic and very, very busy … It’s taken me a couple of years now to have to deal with fibromyalgia, and I have to re-think my life, re-organize, and realize — just having to realize I’m so limited now. I don’t like it, but I have to deal with it.”

Hamlin moved on from a grueling schedule in her music career to one that focused on painting and fibromyalgia awareness. She stayed active until her death in April 2017, at the age of 71.

Fibromyalgia is very real for those who experience chronic, widespread symptoms. It’s important to continue to work with your medical team. If a treatment method doesn’t work, don’t give up — seeking out new therapies can make a world of a difference. It’s also important to realize that you’re not alone. Seeking out support from other people with fibromyalgia can help.

Read more: The best fibromyalgia blogs of the year »