Wendy Simpson

I always say to others with a chronic illness that getting diagnosed is half the battle. But what if that battle takes 31 years? What does it take to motivate yourself to seek out a diagnosis for most of your life, and is it worth it? I believe the answer to that is yes!

I grew up in a suburb of Chicago, and when I was 16, I worked as a camp counselor across the street from the Sand Ridge Nature Center. It was a forest preserve we would take our campers to a few times a week, and we spent the rest of the time at our day camp site.

At the end of that summer, I was entering my senior year of high school. And that September is when I started noticing a slowly growing number of symptoms and deficits that no one else around me seemed to be experiencing.

I could barely get up in the morning or stay awake in my 1 p.m. class. I had random stabbing pain in my shoulders, and I could barely walk home after school. I would fall asleep as soon as I got home. I couldn’t work and go to school. I got lost driving to places I had known all my life.

In college, I could barely stay awake during my first and last classes. Every time I went to the library to read, I would read the same paragraph over and over and have to fight to stay awake. Each afternoon, I would take a nap before dinner.

After graduating and moving to Chicago to first work in journalism, then advertising, and finally broadcasting, these symptoms were gaining strength and making it nearly impossible to work and support myself, but I had to keep going to pay my rent.

I was in my 20s when I finally started seeing a variety of doctors for my symptoms. Every test was negative, which was disappointing because you want to know what is wrong with you. The problem was, I had so many random symptoms by then — including weakness, fatigue, aching pain all over, headaches — that nobody could apply them to one condition.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

I kept looking for answers. In my 30s, all my tests came back negative. In my 40s, I was married and living in Connecticut. I saw every kind of doctor in Connecticut and New York I could think of, and all my tests came back negative. I had been diagnosed with fibromyalgia in my late 30s and that was fine for a few years, but it didn’t explain why I felt like I was dying and why I would sometimes sleep for a month. 

A rheumatologist at NYU Medical Center in Manhattan said you may have something they haven’t discovered yet — and may not in my lifetime. He sent me across the street to the Hospital for Orthopedic and Joint Diseases for physical and occupational therapy, even though I had no diagnosis.

One evening in the spring of 2007, I was standing in the upstairs office of my townhouse and thinking to myself — what was I doing right before I got sick in the fall of 1976? What was I doing that summer? And it came to me. I was a camp counselor that July and August. I wanted to make sure I had that right, so I turned around and went to an expandable file where I had kept one W-2 from every job I’d ever had. And there it was at the bottom of the paper-clipped stack. The first job I’d ever had was as a day camp counselor in South Holland, Illinois in the summer of 1976, just one month before I got sick.

There was one type of doctor I had not been to yet, so I made an appointment to see an infectious disease doctor less than one mile from my house. By this time I was having all my symptoms, plus migraines at least five out of every seven days. In other words, I spent days on end in bed, weak and in excruciating pain. 

At my appointment, I told the doctor my symptoms and that I had been a camp counselor before I got sick. Then I looked her straight in the eye and said the thing that made all my previous doctors so uncomfortable — I said, “There is something wrong with my brain.”

The doctor got together with my neurologist down the street I had been seeing for pain management, and together they ran about 20 tests. And for the very first time in 31 years, one of those 20 tests came back positive. I was positive for Babesia microti, which is spread by deer ticks. Did the doctor treat me? Yes. Did I get better? Yes! Am I cured? Nope. I have chronic babesiosis (Babesia), which has symptoms similar to malaria.

Like I said, getting diagnosed is half the battle. It changed my life. I responded to treatment. The point is that I never gave up searching for a diagnosis, because regardless of what everyone else said — I knew there was something terribly wrong with me. And I was right.

Editor’s note: Any medical information included is based on a personal experience. For questions or concerns regarding health, please consult a doctor or medical professional.

RELATED VIDEOS


As the result of an uninspired performance in high school, I had very few exemplary academic achievements. In my sophomore year, I did take a standardized accounting test and scored among the highest in our school district. It was as much a surprise to my teacher as it was to me!

Performing so well on that test was a pivotal moment in my life because it prompted me to study accounting at college. My undergraduate degree led me to my first job where, after meeting my wife, the next chapter of my life began.

However, not long ago, a memory of my senior year of high school popped into my head. It was a surprising moment from government class.

It was for an writing assignments titled, “What does government mean to you?” I can’t say I remember what I wrote, although I do recall having a great time completing it. But it was the reaction of my teacher that shocked me.

He asked to speak with me as class was ending. I still remember the snickers from my classmates who thought I had gotten into trouble (I figured I was, too!)

Instead, my teacher told me he thought my paper was one of the best things he’s read in a really long time and that I should be in his Advanced Placement (AP) class – all just based on what I had written.

Although I was surprised and grateful, I was also just 16 years old, so it mostly went in one ear and out the other. And nothing more came of that moment.

Last summer, a good high school friend of mine asked if he could share my writing about living with multiple sclerosis with his students. He was inspired by my work and wanted to incorporate some of my stories into his lesson plans on how to write with meaning and passion. Flattered, I agreed. A few days later, we spoke in more detail about his class, and during the conversation, he referenced our high school days and told me he was always in awe of my writing.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

My friend, who teaches children every day (including a job at the Kahn Academy) and has also spent time on stage as a comedian, is an extremely talented communicator himself. So I was stunned to learn my writing motivated him to become a better writer.

We all have our dream jobs and not many of us get to actually live them. The examples are numerous: An aspiring musician who works an office job because he has a young family and bills to pay or the lawyer who’d rather own a bakery but doesn’t want to risk trading a stable job for a failed business.

Working in an office or arguing before a judge isn’t who they are, but for whatever reason, it’s the road they’ve found themselves on. Choices made when they are barely 18 — the college they study at or what field they major in — sends them in a direction that’s opposite of their passion.  But if a genie came along tomorrow and granted them the opportunity to change paths, they would instantly take it.

Everyone understands these types of scenarios, and perhaps a few of you are currently living one.

But what if I told you there might be something out there for you — a passion or talent — and you don’t even know what it is yet?

I would have never become a writer if I wasn’t diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Even typing that, I have to take a moment to let those words sink in.

This other part of me — that a prior teacher had alluded to or a friend had admired me for — would still be hidden away and lost in the perpetual motion of everyday without MS.

Living with MS isn’t easy for me — there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t encounter blurred vision, shooting pains, tingling sensations, numbness or fatigue. How can something so devastating to my health and personal life also be the inspiration behind what I’ve now become?

And so I wonder — is my situation unique? Or are many of us living our daily lives unaware that we are only scratching the surface of our potential, an undeveloped talent or unknown passion?

I don’t have the answer to these questions but I think it’s worth it to take a few moments to pause and reflect on it. While you’re taking a moment to smell the proverbial roses, close your eyes and remember who you were while dreaming about who you can become.

Let your internal compass lead the way.

Follow this journey on A Life Less Traveled.

Imagine someone Googling how to help you cope with your (or a loved one’s) diagnosis. Write the article you’d want them to find. If you’d like to participate, please check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images


Imagine cleaning your room one day to find a mysterious letter from your future self. Would you dare open it? Would you take your own advice? I’ve always wished “future me” would send me a quick note to encourage me in the right direction, warn me of heartbreak or confirm I made the right decision.

If you were given the chance to chat with the old you, would you? Would you warn them about that bad breakup? Admit their favorite jeans are a hideous excuse for pants?

In 2013, I would have given my right arm for a mysterious note from a future self. I had no idea my life would take an unexpected turn when I became seriously ill before being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. I’ve heard nearly a million pieces of advice and suggestions from other chronic illness warriors, but I always wondered what I would tell me. Well, this week I sat down and figured out just what I would tell the 2013 version of me.

Hi Becki,

It’s 2016 me — well, you. Crazy, I know! Right now, you’re buckled in, and the biggest, scariest roller coaster of your life is about to take off. You’re going to scream, cry and laugh more than you can even believe. But don’t worry, I’m here to give you pointers on how to get through this ride in one piece — well, with most of your pieces.

As this year began, you started to experience some less-than-glamorous issues. The bathroom isn’t the most fun place to hang out, I know. It’s hard to explain why you’re constantly going. And the poor, poor person that has to use it after you? Bless their soul.

“It’s so embarrassing!” you say. Well, get used to it, Buttercup: this is the easy part. Now I know you think it’s just a little stress. It’s not! Go to the doctor ASAP! They’ve seen and heard worse. Be honest and ask for help. When you finally do get help, do some research on the tests they are going to run. I promise, they sound scarier than they actually are. Never, and I repeat, never eat your favorite food before a colonoscopy prep and, no matter how drugged up you are afterward, you still hate In-N-Out Burger.

And get used to people looking at your butt. Not like “Dang, those jeans look good”… more of “When did that hemorrhoid appear?” You’re going to get really used to your rear end being the piece of you everyone wants to see/scope/talk about. You’ll become shameless real quick and poop jokes suddenly become the funniest thing in the world.The author, Becki Parker.

You’ll meet more members of the medical profession than you’ll be able to remember. They all have different methods, but their goal should be the same: to help you heal and function to the best of your ability. You’ll meet nurses that love you and some that you wish took a different career path. If you feel like you’re being mistreated or your needs are not being met, leave. Now. Do your own research and interview a new doctor. Learn new adjectives for how your guts hurt. This will help doctors and nurses greatly. If something looks or feels off, tell someone. Go to the ER. Who cares if they saw you last week? It’s perfectly okay to go back and ask for help. Roughing it out does nothing but harm. The nurses will learn your name and your life story, and they’ll become some of your closest confidants. They’ll be able to help the doctors track how your disease is progressing. Even the doctors will become your close friends and visit you during your many hospital stays. Remember to be kind to these brave souls that not only work crazy hours, but put up with many cranky and sick people, all with a smile on their faces.

Get used to the taste of broth. And stop being a snob about Jell-O. Just suck it up and drink the damn food. Liquid diets are here to stay — deal with it. You won’t like many of the tests, foods, needles or being cooped up, but that’s life now.

You’ll see people you thought were your friends disappear. You’ll try and try to keep those relationships alive, but sometimes you have to learn when you stop CPR and call it. You’re 21 and you’ve little to nothing in common with them anymore. And that’s just fine. And if you have to cancel plans, that’s OK too. Don’t push yourself; if you do, you’ll pay the price later.

It’s normal to outgrow people. It’s normal for them to not understand or learn with you. Adapt to your situation and respectfully move on. Learn to adapt to your ever-changing scenario quickly. It’s no use fighting change. You’re never going to be “normal” or like the old you again.

And that’s the bright side of this whole journey. You’re changing, you’re “abnormal.” The majority of people will never know what you’ve learned. They’ll never have the strength and courage you have. You’re growing into this strong, intelligent fighter. Every day you strap on your boxing gloves and step into the ring with an opponent that never tires or weakens. That kind of endurance is admired far and wide. Your new independence allows you to be strong enough to do things on your own and take control of your life. You’re going to laugh more than you ever have. You’re going to appreciate things more than you ever have.

Some days you’ll wear the pain and fear like the rarest of gems. But some days, you’ll wear them like a “Warning: Toxic” sign. Either way, that’s a-OK. You’re allowed to have rough days, and you’re going to have rough days. There are going to be days that you don’t think you’ll make it through. There will be days you don’t want to make it through. But you will. And you will be a better you for it. Your friends will be truer, your love deeper, and your compassion stronger. These are things people would kill for. Be proud of them.

Like I said, this is going to be the craziest ride of your life. But we’ll make it through. You’ve got this, kid. Don’t ever doubt that.

Sincerely,

The 2016 badass Crohn’s warrior Becki

The Mighty is asking the following: Write a letter to yourself on the day of the diagnosis. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


If only there were a magical formula to find the right doctor for every patient! Much like slogging through the dating scene to find love, cutting through all the bad doctors to get to the good one is a struggle.

Looking back, there had been signs of Crohn’s disease in my life since I was a kid, but it wasn’t until I was finishing up my sophomore year of college that I knew something was really wrong. I was diagnosed in fall of my junior year and when I was told by my childhood pediatrician that I needed to find a gastroenterologist (GI), I simply called the first guy that showed up on Google. What a mistake.

In my defense, I was not feeling well and my metal shape was weakened by my condition. I was tired all the time and just not as cognitively sharp as I had been, so I didn’t put in the effort to find a good doctor, look up reviews online or take the time to call around and compare different GIs.

I paid dearly for my laziness and his ineptness. I got very sick, very quickly. When I came home for Christmas it was clear to my family that my doctor’s methods were not working, as I had lost 30 pounds in three months and was sleeping upwards of 16 hours a day. I was in no shape to do my homework on a new GI, but I lucked into the best care I could have asked for.

My new GI was thorough, caring, thorough and thorough. Where my previous GI had fallen short, she came through in every way. At this point, my intestine was 90 percent blocked, I had an abscess the size of a fruit and I had developed a fistula, so my only option to heal was surgery.

Losing control of my health to that extreme was a wake-up call, and since then I’ve taken a much more proactive stance on my health. It’s easy to believe that doctors are all good people with good intentions who care about their patients’ health. While I believe that’s true for the most part, I’ve learned the hard way that the only person who is going to make sure I’m getting the attention I need is me.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

But ugh! That is so freakin’ hard to do! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have a degree in broadcast journalism, which didn’t require me to take many classes on autoimmune disease (I believe the grand total of science classes I took in college is none). It’s hard to advocate or defend myself when I don’t know the ins and outs of what I’m advocating for or defending against. The good news is that I am fully prepared to stand in front of a camera and report on it after the fact.

So I lucked into finding a great GI, and when I graduated college I moved 30 miles away, a still doable if not desirable distance to cross for appointments. But the thing is, my body isn’t composed entirely of intestines (thank God) so I need doctors other than GIs to help take care of me. In my ideal world, I have a team of doctors who communicate amongst each other to ensure that I am healthy. Autoimmune disease is a b**** in that if I’ve got one, I’m probably going to get a few more. So that means finding doctors I trust in every facet of my health: primary care, GI, OB/GYN, dentist, rheumatologist, therapist, etc. But where do I even begin in making sure I’m getting the best health care when I’m not a health professional? In my amateur experience, there are two places to begin: word of mouth and the internet.

When I moved up to Los Angeles, I talked to some friends about their doctors and how they feel about them. This is a great way to get started. It opened my eyes to the different medical groups, practices and hospitals in my new home. The trick is finding doctors that are in my insurance network. Big thanks to the Affordable Care Act and a job with health benefits for keeping me insured.

Insurance companies make it very easy for me to find doctors that are in-network online. I can even enter a radius in which to search for doctors so I don’t have to drive too far. Since I moved up to LA this has been the primary way I begin my research for new doctors. It helps narrow down the field to my specific insurance, and from there I go to good old Google for reviews on each doctor. Nowadays Yelp is good for more than just assigning stars to the Thai takeout around the corner. Many doctors and practices appear there, and I find it’s a good way to gauge other people’s experience, while taking them with a grain of salt. There are other medically centered websites that focus on reviewing doctors, but I’ve found that fewer people take the time to rate on those sites.

From there, just jump in. It’s impossible to know what chemistry exists until you and your doctor meet in person. Of course, hopefully there’s not too much of a spark since you’re looking for a healthcare professional, but hey! If there’s more there, good on you for landing a doctor. If I’ve learned anything from “Grey’s Anatomy” they’re probably very smart, good-looking and prone to drama.

It’s taken me almost four years to reach a point where I am satisfied overall with my healthcare. I have definitely stuck with some doctors too long (I’m looking at you, old dentist!), but at the end of the day, after all the research and Yelp reviews, you just have to try the doctor out for yourself. Sometimes the care I received seemed good enough at the time, and it wasn’t until I went to someone new that I realized what I was missing out on. As my mom said, “Now that you’re happy with your doctors, it’s time to move and find new ones.”

P.S. I don’t suggest looking for doctors from your balcony. It will be a very slow route to finding the health care you need.

Follow this journey on Cool With Crohn’s.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one thing people might not know about your experience with disability, disease or mental illness, and what would you say to teach them? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

*Sign up for our Chronic Illness Newsletter*


For many with chronic illness, our lives change drastically before we even receive a proper diagnosis of our disease. It took about seven years from the onset of symptoms to diagnosis for me. By the time I was properly diagnosed, life involved moving between my bed, my sofa, and my bathroom. I ate processed convenience foods, never exercised, felt depressed and frustrated, and spent the bulk of my life in front of a television set. I was a lump of pain and sorrow.

Recovering from a lump of pain and sorrow to find some humanity and function isn’t an overnight transition. Many people misunderstand diagnosis and the start of treatment for chronic illness. They think diagnosis and treatment will make me well. But that isn’t the case. It is called “chronic” for a reason. It does not go away. It keeps affecting me. I don’t get “better.” Wellness can come and go like the tides. It is an elusive and complex concept for those of us who cope with chronic conditions.

I have multiple co-occurring conditions. And the most affecting of those are fibromyalgia and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. I work constantly to achieve the greatest possible wellness despite these conditions. But neither of them are going to simply go away or be healed.

And because my illness will never go away, the lump of pain and sorrow is a tempting state to remain in full-time. I believe all of us with chronic pain and mental illness would be totally and completely justified if we chose to be the lump of pain and sorrow for the rest of our existence, because these conditions can be terrible, life-altering and incurable. We could just keep living on in this painful, psychologically affecting state — indefinitely.

So, it becomes easy for some to focus on what you cannot do. I cannot clean my house alone. I cannot vacation. I cannot go dancing. I cannot work. I cannot pay for things. I cannot cope with various aspects of life. I cannot, cannot and cannot.

list of accomplishments and pen
Christy’s schedule of accomplishments.
MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

But I believe the way to wellness is not through the “cannot.”

The way to wellness lies in the celebration of even the tiniest of accomplishments.

About two years ago, I was constantly struggling with the fact that I could never finish my “to do” list for the day. I did not have enough energy. I couldn’t sustain projects until their end. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. I was overwhelmed by the need to nap. So, to alleviate some of the “beating myself up” that the list was inspiring, my therapist suggested I pick only two or three things to do each day.  And that gave birth to the “big three.”

The big three were written down on a dry erase board — three tasks per day. And they started out as the most simple of tasks. “Shower.” “Dishes.”  “Pay bills.” I would cross off the three items as they were completed. And every time I crossed one off, I would have a miniature moment of celebration. (“Woohoo! I showered!”) I used this process for over a year before graduating to what I use now, which is an expanded version of the same concept, and now contains eight spaces (three of them filled with meals to achieve more balanced eating).

The other day, as I was shifting some stuff around in my office, I discovered the big three template, and I realized that I had moved past that marker of success naturally, on my own, as I began to find greater wellness. I got off of the sofa slowly and methodically, with celebrations of each and every accomplishment — no matter how small they might seem.

I now celebrate all the tiny things in my new eight-spaces-per-day calendar. I still celebrate showering. I celebrate eating, napping, cleaning and even watching “Game of Thrones.” Because they fill a space in the plan for the day, I celebrate them as amazing accomplishments.

Managing my life in microscopic accomplishments helps me feel like I am getting somewhere in life. And a side effect of that feeling is that it starts to offer me encouragement, faith in myself and in my body, and the hope that a tomorrow I can be proud of is just over the horizon. Celebrating the smallest of accomplishments gives me joy. And joy is a catalyst for more joy.

Christy Bloemendaal after shower
Christy after accomplishing a shower.

Allowing myself to celebrate mundane tasks — ones that healthy people may take for granted every day  — allowed me to tackle increasing my wellness in very small increments. And it helped me look at the positive side of things, instead of always dwelling on the negative. It made me take pride in my ability, instead of feeling the shame and stigma of what I wasn’t able to do.

Today’s list includes breakfast, food prep, lunch, writing, dinner and the aforementioned watching of “Game of Thrones.” And while that list might seem silly or inconsequential to some, it is huge for me.

It is an amazing transformation to behold when you compare my early big three to today’s list. And it is even greater when I see that every single item on that list is meant to make me even better, if possible.  Naps and yoga and meditation and doctor appointments and swims all get put on the list. Because those are tasks that improve my life and increase my wellness and make me even more able and more joyful.  And I celebrate each one of those tasks. (“Woohoo! I made waffles and went to the rheumatologist!”)

So, if you have chronic illness, try celebrating all of the miniscule tasks you can. Woohoo! You brushed your teeth! Woohoo! You left your bed! Woohoo! You walked to the mailbox! Put all the thought and energy you are able into joy over the little ways you are tackling life. And if you love someone with chronic illness, support them in that celebration. Tell them how amazing they are, even when they accomplish nothing of (seeming) consequence. Celebrate with them!

Think of the ways you might treat a toddler. We cheer when they take a step or share a toy. And that is the type of unbridled enthusiasm that I put toward my list for the day.

Doing so has helped me gain wellness. And there is no guarantee that I will remain as well as I am today. My situation could change in an instant. Then I will go back to a “big three” list, or even a “Woohoo! You got out of bed!” celebration. Because I know the only way to cope with the illnesses that plague me is to keep fighting for the smallest achievements and keep looking toward positivity and hope.

Celebrating all the little things makes that coping possible.

So throw yourself a party (on the sofa, in your pajamas, alone or with a BYO-Everything-and-clean-some-stuff-while-you-are-here invite). Celebrate all the things you can accomplish, and toss aside any thoughts of what you cannot. And keep on doing that — indefinitely.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s the hardest thing you deal with as someone with a chronic illness, and how do you face this? What advice and words of support would you offer someone facing the same thing? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.


Eczema is more than just dry, itchy skin. While common in childhood and infancy, most children grow out of it. Those of us unlucky enough to have eczema as adults face a lifetime of scarring, both physically and emotionally. Most of us were not told as children it would be a lifelong chronic illness (because again, most kids grow out of it). I didn’t find out until I was 28 that I would have it all of my life. Up until that point I still thought it would get better and disappear eventually. I cried when I found that out.

Technically, eczema is a generic term for any type of itchy rash. Those of us with eczema know that description doesn’t do it justice. Our skin also burns, and stings and hurts… a lot.

Eczema is waking up with bloody sheets because you scratched up your legs in your sleep.

Eczema is knowing you are rubbing off a layer of skin while scratching but being unable to stop.

Eczema is not being able to wear black clothing because it gets ashy from skin flakes.

Eczema is not being able to use most soaps, or lotions, or shampoos or even makeup because of how it reacts with your skin.

Eczema is having scars from bad outbreaks.

Eczema is having your clothes stick to your legs or arms because of the weeping, open sores.

Eczema is moisturizing five or six times per day and still being dry and flaky.

Eczema is never being able to take a hot shower or bath because it dries you out even more.

Eczema is knowing you need to shave your legs because it itches, and itching makes it worse, but also knowing shaving will make it worse.

Eczema is needing topical steroids several times a day and praying it doesn’t get bad enough to need oral steroids.

Eczema is having widespread pain across the surface of your skin so bad that you fantasize about dipping your hands in a vat of acid because maybe that will hurt less.

Eczema is not fun, it is not pretty, and it is not easy to deal with. I know what some of my triggers are — certain soaps (even natural ones), fabric softener, grasses and latex. I know I have food triggers, but I can’t always narrow them down. Most of the time I don’t know what is causing a breakout, I just know the longer I go without being able to contain it, the worse it will get. I have a daily routine that includes prescription steroidal and non-steroidal creams, lotions, emollients, gloves when I sleep and do any type of housework.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

I’ve been stared at while at the beach and while shopping. I’ve been asked if I was contagious. I was asked to leave a pool party. I had friends in junior high who didn’t want to sit by me. Once I had a breakout so bad that when I went into the doctor’s office the nurse put me into a quarantine room. When the doctor walked into the room he actually gaped and dropped his clipboard on the floor.

And yet, I’m frequently told by people (even dermatologists) that it’s just dry, itchy skin. People frequently tell me things like coconut oil, essential oils, green tea and even exercise will “cure” my eczema. I actually tried one of the essential oil blends a coworker gave me (because I figure “what can it hurt?”). I had a horrible breakout, and when I reported it to her she didn’t believe me. “No one should be allergic to essential oils,” she said. Well I am apparently.

I’ve had 33 years to learn to deal with my eczema, and it’s hard. Hard, because most people don’t consider it a chronic disease. I recently just started identifying as a person with a chronic disease.

But admitting that to myself actually made me free. Yes, I have red, scaly patches on my legs, but it’s part of my chronic illness so why should I be ashamed to wear shorts at the beach? Yes, I have a rash on my face and hands, but it’s part of my chronic illness so why should I tax myself trying to hide it? No, I can’t use the product you are offering because it will make my chronic illness worse, so I shouldn’t worry about offending you.

Yes, I have a chronic illness. Eczema. No there is no cure. Yes, I can live with knowing that.

The Mighty is asking the following: What is a part of your or a loved one’s disease, disability or mental illness that no one is aware of? Why is it time to start talking about it? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Real People. Real Stories.

8,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.