As someone with a chronic illness that was once misdiagnosed as a psychiatric disorder, but who also does have mental health issues, it’s a constant balancing act trying to understand my brain while convincing doctors that mental illness is only one of my problems.
For eight years, the conclusion was that I was sick because I was depressed. (Since when did depression cause visible joint inflammation?) Even as a kid, I knew better than to believe that.
I was only thirteen the first time a doctor misattributed my physical illness to my poor mental health, but I knew that I knew myself and my body better than a doctor who’d just met me:
“I’m not sick because I’m depressed,” I growled. “I’m depressed because I’m sick.”
Continue reading “What Mental Health Awareness Means When Chronically Ill”
With Easter Week and Passover upon us, I’ve found myself face to face with the very thing my chronic illness has changed the most: my faith.
For years, I would’ve told you it was the most important thing in my life. All through high school, I was a leader in my youth group and involved in several ministries. I used to read scriptures daily because I wanted to learn more about God. I used to pray often because I wanted to be closer to Him. I even used to be enthralled by dense theological tomes, started to teach myself biblical Greek, and at one point considered going into ministry full-time.
But then I got ill.
At seventeen, I suddenly developed an extreme case of OCD. I’d already had OCD smoldering in the background of my mind for six years, which I’d concealed from numerous therapists due to shame, but out of nowhere it became incapacitating and all-consuming.
Continue reading “The One Thing That May Never Recover After My Chronic Illness”
After just one stride, I knew something wasn’t right. I’d always run through anything—be it sickness, rain, or depression—but today was different. Today, in the midst of training for my second half-marathon, my whole body felt like it was made of lead, and no matter how hard I tried I could barely pick up my legs.
I shuffled down the road for two miles before the frustration of a terrible performance got the best of me, and I dragged myself home, now dizzy from exhaustion. I went to bed in the hopes that I could sleep it off… Continue reading “The Plot Twist I Never Expected… And How I’ve Learned to Accept It”
Last month, after finishing my first semester of grad school, the dread of having to come back in January to do it all over again drowned out any sense of accomplishment. Although I liked my colleagues, the truth is that I was miserable so much of that fall. And until now, I didn’t know why.
Continue reading “Facing The What-If’s of Chronic Illness: Why Do Grad School While Sick?”
As I opened my eyes to the morning sunlight peeking through my blinds, for a feel blissful seconds, I forgot the many reasons I shouldn’t feel as calm as I did in that moment. But not a minute later, it all came rushing back, and my stomach did a somersault.
I rolled over and saw a missed call from my infusion pharmacy, and all at once I remembered the horrible quandary I’m in. I remembered the unfortunate events that led to it. And worst of all, I remembered that losing access to monthly IVIG treatments could mean I was on the verge of a relapse that would make me lose my mind. Continue reading “The Questions No One Should Have to Ask: Life on the Verge of Relapse”
“How’s grad school going?” my friend from home asked.
“I mean—I’m glad I’m trying it,” I stammered, going on about a few highlights.
“But do you like it?” she pressed.
The truth is that I’d been afraid to ask myself this very question, because I was afraid to learn the answer….
But first, how is grad school going?
Continue reading “How I Tackle Grad School with Cognitive Problems from PANS”
For the last twelve years of being sick, I’ve been embarrassed by all of the ways my disease makes me “different” from everyone else. I may try to fit in, but I’m always waiting for the moment when people discover the truth about me.
From not being able to attend public high school, to going to therapy and appointments instead of hanging out with friends, to living with OCD and chronic pain, my experiences as a person with PANS and Lyme have isolated me from my peers when all I wanted was to be “normal” and feel accepted. Continue reading “My Illness Made Me Feel Like a Freak: Why I’m Done Trying to Be “Normal””
Today is PANS Awareness Day 2018. There’s so much I could write as someone who has lived with PANS for most of my life—even more than I’ve already said in the 100,000+ words I’ve written in previous posts on this blog.
However, I’m doing things differently this year, and instead of posting about PANS awareness, I’m going to speak on national talk radio. I’ll be interviewed on Worcester, Massachusetts’s John DiPietro show along with some New England PANS Association board members and a PANS parent. Continue reading “On the Radio Today! A Special for PANS Awareness Day 2018”
I have a disability.
I never thought those four words would describe me, especially at twenty-three, but in my first few days as a graduate student, they’ve become a heavy truth I have no choice but to accept—and at the same time, they’ve turned into a statement of empowerment.
Continue reading “8 Essentials for University Success with a Disability: How to Build a Bulletproof Support System”
In the last couple of months, I’ve had a breakthrough in my recovery. After being mostly couch-bound since January, I’m now able to run. And my cognitive abilities have improved so much that I just finished a small project. So many things I’ve hoped for have become reality!
I thought I’d feel nothing but elation if I ever got back to this point, but instead, now that I’m here…
I’ve found a dark side that no one wants to talk about.
Continue reading “When Getting Better Hurts More Than Staying Sick: The Paradox of Recovery”