When My Vision Problems From POTS Cause People to Think I'm 'Rude'

I cannot tell you how often I get this feedback: “We thought you were really rude until we got to know you.” Ugh, those words sting, but you know what? I am not the only person who experiences this kind of misunderstanding. To be honest with you, if you once thought this as well, I don’t blame you. I’ll explain.

Among my many symptoms, I experience foggy brain and blurry vision daily. One of the major symptoms of my POTS is the blood pressure drop when I stand. My blood begins to pool in my feet and I slowly struggle to focus both internally and optically. The ways this manifests:

  1. I have been in many large groups where I either cannot identify people mere feet away from me, or I have the “resting serious face” while I try to focus my eyes.
  2. I have experienced this symptom at really unfortunate times where it affected my reputation around business and personal growth.
  3. It has spontaneously caused issues while driving, so I do my best to avoid driving at night.
  4. It can make my eyeballs hurt. Not due to straining to see, but from a lack of blood flow/oxygen. Pressure builds up behind them.
  5. It makes it hard to remember what I heard while standing. With the blood leaving my upper body, my brain underperforms as though I have 30 browsers open, all downloading a movie.

As you can see, the primary problem is that I cannot see — not that I am unhappy to be present or socialize. If you see me and I seem aloof, I give my blessing to check in with me. Sometimes these vision spells hit faster than I realize and suddenly I just feel really closed off. Like with any other medical condition, always respect your loved one’s requests, whether it’s for space or assistance. But more than anything… try to assume generously. Life with postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome is hard enough already, we can use all the friends we can get.

Getty Image by Victor_Tongdee

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