Imagine living your life in pain. Every. Single. Day.

Your muscles feel as if you had an intense workout the day before. Your neck, back, shoulders and hips ache.

You get up in the morning from a sleepless night and have zero energy.

Everyday tasks—getting dressed, making breakfast, washing dishes, feeding the dog—can be incredibly challenging. You often suffer temporary memory loss and confusion, commonly called “fibro fog.”

This is what it’s like to live with fibromyalgia.

As many as 12 million Americans know what it means to live with fibromyalgia, according to the American Chronic Pain Association.

“Fibromyalgia is the most common musculoskeletal condition after osteoarthritis,” according to WebMD. “Still, it is often misdiagnosed and misunderstood.”

Most people doubt its existence because they can’t see it.

But, believe me when I tell you I have seen it, and it’s real.

And I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I had never been a witness to the pain.

I’ve developed a deeper appreciation for all that my mom does and how hard she works for her family. Yes, like most children, I sadly still take my mom for granted.

It hurts to watch someone you love hurt—especially the someone who brought you into this world.

At first, I didn’t understand how my mom’s life—and our whole family—would change because of this terrible monster called fibromyalgia.

But day by day, the changes made themselves known.

My mom was always one of those Wonder Woman moms.

She taught at the Christian school my two older sisters and I attended. She taught Sunday School, helped at VBS and never skipped church.

She cleaned the house, cooked the meals, helped with homework, attended our countless basketball games, volleyball games and cheer competitions.

With a husband working long hours six days out of the week to provide for us, she had a lot of responsibility at the house.

She did all of this while making her husband and three girls feel like the most loved people in the whole world.

Don’t let the past tense verbs of my previous sentences fool you—she still is a Wonder Woman mom.

She does more than she should and more than I can ever express enough gratitude for. But the chronic pain has since changed the norm in the Wright house.

My mom now teaches one day a week. She teaches Sunday School and attends church regularly—except for the days when the pain is too unbearable.

Housework is usually broken up into 15-20 minute segments with breaks in between.

Breaks are madatory while cooking meals too. Take-out and drive-thru has become more frequent since fibromyalgia.

She’s still very much involved in mine and my sisters’ lives. She’s still available 24/7 for her husband and daughters—even after fibromyalgia uninvitedly joined our family.

This is the part that has changed my life—not that I don’t eat three homecooked meals a day—but the part where she pushes through the pain to put others first.

I can without a doubt say that my mom is my hero—not only my hero but also my role model.

I strive to be the woman, wife, mother, friend and Christian my mom is.

Her determination to not let her life be defined by fibromyalgia inspires me to push through any obstacles thrown in my way to make my dreams come true.

Her patience with others when she’s in intense pain encourages me to bite my tongue when someone annoys me.

Her having a positive attitude rather than focusing on all the things fibromyalgia has stolen from her inspires me to find the good in things when I think my world is falling apart.

Her unchanging love for her family even when we take advantage of her inspires me to be a better person—a grateful, loving, understanding, empathetic person.

My mom’s relationship with God inspires me the most.

She could very easily blame God for allowing her to have fibromyalgia, for allowing it to make her life a thousand times more difficult.

But she doesn’t. She chooses to not let fibromyalgia define her or her relationship with God.

She’s the one constantly in pain, yet she’s the one constantly encouraging me.

You may or may not know someone suffering from fibromyalgia but remember that you meet people who are suffering every day.

Pain can’t always be seen, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

Be patient and kind because you never know what people are going through.

And you never know when you’ll meet someone whose battles inspire you to be a better you.