When you've got a chronic illness, it is highly likely you're going to have a run-in with alternative medicine. This is especially likely to happen if said chronic illness is not very well understood by medical science. Now, as a disclaimer, y'all need to know that I don't mean to say that alternative medicine doesn't work for some people. I'm just giving fair warning: as a disabled/ill person, do be careful about alternative medicine. People are diverse, treatments are diverse, and medical conditions are quite diverse, even between different people with the same condition. Fibromyalgics have a lot in common, obviously, but there's also lots of random weird stuff that differs between people with the condition.
Most of all, to non-disabled people who know people with conditions like this: please don't recommend treatments to us. We know you're trying to help, but when you do this, you participate in what's known as "othering" by pointing out the things that are different about us and making them an exclusive topic of conversation, which keeps us from being seen as, y'know, regular human beings who can and should be empathized with. Further, it indicates that you think we don't have any idea what we're doing about our own health. So yes, however enthusiastic you are, just please don't share these things unless we've specifically asked for it. It helps spare us extra frustration. <3
Moving forward. I thought to illustrate these ideas I'd share some of my own experiences with alternative medicine.
My pediatrician was very accepting of alternative and non-Western medicine forms. Again, this isn't a bad thing. However, at times it seemed to get in the way of proper diagnosis. When I was in sixth grade or so, it became clear that something was up with both me and my youngest brother (as noted in this post). At that point, a lot of alternative treatments were thrown my way.
After that, we turned to other more accepted forms of anxiety management. Nothing properly medical, still, with the focus being on my brother, but my mom and I put together a pack of "calming" things--like a slice of my baby blanket and a bunch of lavender--that I carried around at school in a dark blue fanny pack. I also, so you can get this image properly in your head, was just teaching myself how to walk like a normal person (instead of on my toes, due to pre-fibro pain), wore fake jeans (because my fingers bugged me enough to keep me from putting normal ones on), had just fully hit the wonders of puberty (making me, among things, look like I'd dyed my hair because a darker shade was coming in at the roots), and still wore glasses. It was awkward. But that kit did work for me til seventh grade, when I went on a crusade to "fix" myself. No more fanny packs, toe-walking, or fake jeans.
After that, alternative medicine and I had a break for a good long while. I did yoga on my own for a while, and still do on occasion, but I count that more as exercise. It wasn't until I developed fibromyalgia in tenth grade and was in the process of seeking both diagnosis and treatment that I returned to that realm. And that was an adventure.
I went to all kinds of places seeking help. Even after my diagnosis, my doctor sent me to lots of alternative methods because she was leery of putting me on opiods, and my mom was leery of antidepressants. I took NSAIDS for a while, but those are generally ineffective for fibromyalgia and ended up giving me such an upset stomach I could only eat Jello for two weeks. I went to physical therapy, which isn't designed for fibromyalgia, although they did get me a TENS unit that I use on bad days. Then I did massage, which didn't work long term because it essentially moved the pain from inside my muscles to on my skin. Applied heat works well for me, but it's not viable when you're in pain 24/7. I tried a bunch of supplements that did nothing and went gluten-free my first year at college, which only helped minimally with my related digestive issues.
The weirdest thing we tried was an alternative masseuse. It was exactly one appointment and it was so awkwardly horrible I was both in tears and laughing by the time we got in the car afterwards. The lady was German, I believe, and she did a "gland" massage, which basically consisted of her having me undress and then poking at my tonsils and other random glands on my body. While she poked, she went on and on about the evils of American life and how if I wanted to be cured, I needed to stop consuming any kind of milk product and instead go out in the woods at night in the snow and chop wood.
In summary, it's important that you take control of your own medical health, just the same way you need to take control of your mental health through counseling. Trust what feels right for you, do your research, and be smart. People have different results. This is just my experience.
Now, of course, teens are going to have less control than adults, but you can still do your homework. Communicate to those who do have the power, parents, doctors, etc., about what you need and what you'd like to try. It'll help you so much to have that kind of involvement, for now and for the future. Stand up for yourself, all right? You deserve it. It might not pan out at first, but at least you'll have establish that pattern for the future.
Images via projectcitizenship.com, allaboutyou.com, and laurievarga.com.