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My Mental Illness Does Not Invalidate My Physical Illness

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I recently went to my doctor for increased symptoms of fatigue and pain leading to a major decrease in my activity. During the appointment, I asked some general questions to see if there were more treatments I could try, and I informed my doctor of my recent PTSD diagnosis. As soon as that cat was out of the bag, the tune of the appointment completely changed. Apparently no treatment but antidepressants would help me, and I needed therapy.

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

• What is PTSD?

I have a confirmed diagnosis of hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome with many comorbidities, and my PTSD diagnosis should not invalidate my symptoms.

I am in therapy, and I have been for over a year. However, my EDS symptoms are increasingly worsening. Just because I have a mental illness does not mean that my symptoms are not real. I came asking for help, and instead I got discounted.

I am not sure if this is common amongst other chronic illnesses, but I know it is especially prevalent in those with EDS. I have found more and more people with both PTSD and EDS due to the genetic predisposition of our bodies to overreact to stressors. If anything, our EDS sparked our mental illness.

The mindset that some doctors have can be dangerous, and I experienced the effects myself. I believed what they said, and I started to ignore all of my body’s signals. I began snowboarding and rock climbing, which was fun at first, and I loved it. The more I went, though, the worse I felt during and afterwards. I began having difficulty driving, walking, participating in school and even standing up without falling. Because I ignored what I felt, I can no longer work many hours or attend school. I am hopeful that I will get back to that point again, but my specialists are not sure how long it will take if it is possible at all.

It may take some searching, but I am going to find a new doctor who can look realistically at everything going on and truly listen. I am thankful for my specialists who are willing to help me try new things and suggest treatments. If you are in this same situation, or if you have been brushed aside because you have a mental illness that doesn’t explain your symptoms, please do not lose hope. There are doctors who understand and truly want the best for you. Keep searching until you find a good one, and don’t ever let them go. Listen to your body, and do what you know is best for you. You are allowed to say no to medication, and you are allowed to find someone who will listen.

Follow this journey on Blythe With Stripes.

Originally published: June 4, 2018
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