When I Asked Myself, ‘Do I Really Have These Symptoms?’


A few months ago, a friend of mine came across a cool project called “The Videoblogs Film.” Its purpose is to squish the taboo and negativity surrounding mental illness and to encourage people to speak up. They promoted a video contest called “A Contest to Continue the Conversation.”

So I got in touch with a few friends, and we made a short entry. We chose to discuss an issue that can be way too common for chronic illness patients, especially those with rare or invisible illnesses, which is being told it’s all “in your head.”

I personally spent most of my life being told there was nothing wrong with me. Doctors pressured me to go back to school full time when I was a teen and told me I was being “dramatic.” After a while, it wore me down. It wore me down to the point that I asked myself, “Is this real? Do I really have these symptoms? Is it all actually in my head?”

I was 21 before I got the answer for most of my issues: Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. I was told I was fine for 10 years when I knew I wasn’t. Other people wait much longer, and some people may never get the validation of a diagnosis. And everyone needs to know their pain and challenges are valid.

Chronic illness patients, like myself, may also cope with depression and anxiety due to multiple reasons. The heartbreak of missing milestones with your peers or having to give up school or a career you love. Dealing with a body that is failing you and physical pain. The last thing you need if you’re dealing with anxiety or depression is to be told your chronic illness experience isn’t real because doctors haven’t figure it out yet.

Hold on. Have faith. Keep going. What is happening to you is completely real. Keep fighting.

Our video was selected as a finalist for the contest, and while we didn’t win, we still had a great opportunity to make a short three-minute film that you can watch below. We’ve been inspired to continue making these types of films to address all the various parts of chronic illness.

 

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images


Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.


Related to Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Man and woman holding hands at a table

5 Things I'd Like Others to Remember About My Life With Rare Disease

It took 30 years before I was diagnosed with the rare, chronic illnesses of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, type 2 and 3, postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS) and Marfan’s syndrome (atypical). It affects every part of me. Before that day, I was completely alone in dealing with my body. My constant injuries and frequent illnesses were called “attention seeking” by family, [...]
Anna at camp looking over the water

Why I'm Grateful Paul Newman Created the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp

The Hole in the Wall Camp. I belt show tunes at the top of my lungs as we drive along a long, winding, wooded road. There is excitement in the air and joy in my heart, and I know I am about to have the best week of my life. I’m headed to a magical [...]
Two young woman sitting in the park and talking about something.

5 Things Chronically Ill People Would Love to Hear

As a person with a rare chronic illness, there are times when I feel like I’m living apart from most other people in my life. Even my close friends, family, and co-workers are living day-to-day lives so different from mine. But then I remember, all of our lives are different. There have been many times [...]
woman waking up in the morning

Why My Chronic Illnesses Make It Difficult for Me to Get Out of Bed Every Morning

Every morning, I wake up and refuse to open my eyes for a few moments. I believe if I don’t open my eyes, then my reality may fade away. This doesn’t last long, though, as the pain soon sets in along with reality. But I’m also excited because I realize during the time I was [...]