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

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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.”

• What is Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome?
• What Are Common Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Symptoms?

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

Originally published: July 28, 2016
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