Kirsty Young: I finally feel better after losing myself in the pain

Kirsty Young revealed that she had lost her “sense of self” while suffering from chronic pain, upon her return to Desert Island Discs.

The Scottish broadcaster, who has hosted nearly 500 editions of BBC Radio 4’s Castaway since 2006, had to leave the show in 2018 to undergo treatment for fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis.

Young, 54, told Lauren Laverne on a Christmas Day special from the show that she is now feeling “so much better,” that she has considered trying a return to broadcasting after her break.

Dealing with a chronic, long-term condition, she said, is “an absolute pain, both literally and figuratively.”

“It grinds you down, you lose your personality, you lose your sense of humor, you lose your sense of self.

“There are all kinds of things that go along with it. Awful.”

Young admitted that she felt “very shaken” that she had to quit her broadcasting job, which she “absolutely loved” and intended to do until I forced her out.

She added, “I thought if I wasn’t, then what am I? What is Kirsty? I felt it.”

“In that moment, you kind of lose yourself,” she said. “And when you’re in chronic pain, you kind of lose yourself anyway, so there’s a lot going on.”

“Good old hello”

Young explained that she spent a year seeing different specialists trying to figure out the nature of her condition until she found a “brilliant” professor of rheumatology who diagnosed her.

She said he warned her that if she wanted to get better, she needed to take her condition “seriously” and reduce stress in her life along with medical treatment.

“It was said very nicely but it was just a moment of sheer reality and clarity, and I remember pulling up my car and I had a good old, to use a good old Scots word, a good old salutation (shout) and I thought ‘Right, well, these are the facts and you really have to think about this'” , She said.

The NHS describes fibromyalgia, also known as fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS), as a long-term condition that causes pain throughout the body, while rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term condition that causes pain, swelling, and stiffness in the joints.

Young returned to present the BBC’s coverage of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations earlier this year as well as the closing moments of the late monarch’s funeral at St George’s Chapel in Windsor.

“beautifully soft and comfortable”

The presenter said she wanted to find the right words to end the program and sum up the magnitude of the historic day but admitted: “I really spent some time. It was emotional.”

The special also marked the end of the 80th year of Desert Island Discs, with Young interviewing 496 castaways during her time on the show.

Reflecting on the programme’s appeal, she said: “I once described it as having (having) a kind of hammock-like quality, just to fit in with the person in there.

“So, if it’s…a Premier League footballer or if it’s an astrophysicist, their music and the amount of time you spend talking to them, and also the ways out of a museum, are kind of beautifully soft and comforting.”

The full interview with Kirsty Young will be broadcast on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Sounds on Christmas Day at 11.15am.

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