The Relief of Discovering My Exhaustion Is a Symptom of POTS

I’ve struggled with what I now know are POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) symptoms for as long as I can remember. The first time I fainted was when I was 14 – over seven years ago. My head always hurts, and I’m always shattered. Not just tired at the end of the day, but completely exhausted all the time.

I knew this wasn’t normal, but I never knew there could be something behind it. I always thought I was just weak, pathetic, useless and complaining about nothing. Just another lazy student who can’t be bothered to get a job, let alone do all their schoolwork. I went through every day fighting to keep up, despite how exhausted I was. I felt sure I was just making a fuss out of nothing and thought I’d eventually grow up and stop being a “wimp.” I’d completely burn out at least once a week, push myself through when I knew I should stop and be unable to move the next day. And still I’d get up and move, because I thought there was nothing wrong.

When I discovered I had POTS, there are no words for the relief I felt. I’m not weak. I’m not making a fuss. What I’m feeling isn’t normal, and while it probably isn’t going away, I can manage it, I can control it and I can feel better. But more importantly, I can finally stop beating myself up. If I need to rest, I can. I know I’m doing the best thing for me and I’ll be more likely to be able to try again the next day. If I’m exhausted, it’s most likely not because I’m lazy, it’s because my heart has been going 150 bpm all day and I can’t cope any more.

Of course, I’m scared as well. When I thought I was lazy, I thought if I just put my mind to it, it would go away. And that not being true is scary.

But the relief is much more. Speaking to people about this, it’s really reassuring to hear that they didn’t think I was being lazy, even before I told them what’s been going on. And whilst I’ve been doing my best to keep going and appear “normal,” it’s nice knowing that when I do have a “no spoons day,” people won’t judge me and I can take my time to rest and recover.

This post originally appeared on POTS & Spoons.

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Thinkstock photo via AndreyPopov.

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