I’m just your average 23 year old grad student hoping to make a difference in the world; you know that idealist we all imagine millennials to be. But in spite of my desires to be that strong idealist who has the power to do anything, I live in a constant state of imbalance, from the age of 2 my parents knew I wouldn’t be given a normal healthy life. It started with a toddler running around screaming and crying while holding her head; my parents later learned I was experiencing migraines. Who could imagine a 2 year old with a migraine? This continued with a primary school student who began to feel chronic pain and suffered multiple migraines a month, luckily she befriended the school nurse and was not often treated as a faker due to her invisible illness. As I progressed into adolescence I began to have uncontrollable bouts of fainting and severe low blood pressure; my doctors treated my symptoms with salt and beta blockers but couldn’t quite find a diagnosis. It wasn’t until my late teens that it all began coming together, and I became a full picture to my team of doctors rather than multiple problems to treat separately. My neurologist discovered that I had a cerebral malformation known as the Chiari Malformation, which essentially means that my cerebellum overgrew and has been pressing on my spinal cord my whole life. This malformation was the root of many of my problems, but the only treatment was a surgery that had more chance to harm than help. I learned that my fainting and low blood pressure were from a disorder known as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) a form of dysautonomia that is related to the Chiari Malformation and is also responsible for my chronic fatigue. My doctor discovered my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome when he began making me keep a journal of my sleep and energy levels; even though I average about 11 hours of sleep per night I still feel constantly exhausted. As if this list hasn’t grown enough, I also found out around the same time as my POTS diagnosis that I have severe Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) which causes me chronic pelvic pain. It’s almost as if I was covered in glue and had a copy of the New England Journal of Medicine thrown at me and I had to live with whatever words stuck.
These illness took a great toll on my younger self, causing a variety of psychological problems including clinical depression (for obvious reasons), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I could never feel control in my life except for over small things, that was how I developed the OCD. I could control locks, and ensure that one thing in my life is constantly secure. My illnesses made me feel for so long that I could never have the life I wanted, and occasionally that fear returns, but I have learned how to fight back and this blog will catalogue my journey.