Anna Behrendsen

@anna-behrendsen | contributor
Hi, I’m Anna. For years doctors told myself, and my family that I was suffering from an unknown illness. It took years to connect all the dots. In April of 2015, I was officially diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos and related conditions. I now advocate for early diagnosis of connective tissue disorders.
Community Voices

I was, now I am.

I was 19, and you told me; I was too young to even consider having a hysterectomy.
I was 21, and you told me; I had to wait a few more years before having a hysterectomy.
I was 24, and you told me; that the amount I was hemorrhaging was completely normal for having a stillbirth.
I was 25, and you told me; you need to try these last ditch medications before we consider a hysterectomy.

I am 31, and you told me let’s do a hysterectomy before this becomes a medical emergency. #womenshealthmatters #Hysterectomy

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Warm Winter Clothing Ideas for People With Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

It’s that time of year again. Time to head to your attic or the back of your closet and dig up your winter wardrobe. Until next season, Banana Republic summer shift! A few tears shed. For most people the coming holiday season is something they look forward to. Please don’t get me wrong: I love wintertime. It’s my body that fights against the colder temperatures. I look forward to the coming season as well, but know that I will be in more pain and have chills, dislocations and a dull body ache that seems to never end due to Ehlers-Danlos syndrome and other comorbid conditions. Here are some of my tips for how to dress from head to toe with falling temperatures and chronic illness. Hats : I have a plain fleece plum-colored hat by Columbia that matches my jacket, but I find myself mysteriously attracted to the ones with the tassels on top. Wintered Headbands : Faux fur headbands equals no need to brush my hair! Winning! Ear Muffs : My ears are always freezing. Scarves : Blanket, faux cowl neck… the choices for scarves are endless. I am starting a holiday collection of blanket scarves. No, but in all seriousness, I adore blankets that lead a double life as a scarf! Ski Parka : Invest in a good quality jacket that will last a few winters. For example, my jacket from The North Face is six years old. Gloves : I have learned that even with gloves, Raynaud’s phenomenon turns my hands pretty shades of blue and bright red. Dresses : Several companies make dresses with long sleeves and three-quarter sleeves that pull on over your head. Tunics : Try this staple in long sleeves or a waffle weave. Thermal Underwear : This is a winter staple. Hello, Under Armour! Leggings : They come in bright holiday patterns! Who doesn’t want to wear a pair of leggings with gingerbread on them?!? Boots : Umm, black, of course! Non-skid sloes. Slippers : Preferably ones with non-skid sloes. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

What Clothing to Wear When You're Chronically Ill

I have several chronic illnesses, including Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. I adore fashion, but I find I have to adapt my wardrobe to accommodate my chronic illnesses. Who says a girl can’t be both fashionably dressed and chronically ill at the same time? The 10 essential pieces and accessories in my wardrobe with having a chronic illness are: 1.) Bras. Bras with underwire and MRIs do not mix. I find sport bras tend to be soft, comfortable and contain no metal parts. There are an array of colors and styles to pick from. 2.) Cardigans. I am always freezing due to my body’s inability to regulate temperature, so these are a must. I live in an oversized oatmeal colored one from American Eagle Outfitters. 3.) Headbands. The stretchy kind of headband, since the plastic ones tend to give me a tension headache. 4.) Jewelry. I tend to stick the basics when it comes to jewelry. I wear small diamond stud earrings, a necklace, or a bracelet in a color or style that comments my outfit. 5.) Leggings. A dressier version of yoga pants. Black, of course. 6.) Scarves. I tend to wear the infinity kind, these make so easy to hide my soft or hard cervical collar with little effort on my part. 7.) Socks. Fuzzy, soft, colorful, patterns. I own multiple pairs of socks. I even carry a pair in my bag in case of emergencies. That’s right, a sock emergency! It’s real! 8.) Sunglasses. I’ve had multiple eye surgeries, so wearing sunglasses with UV protection is a must. Pick a frame that doesn’t overwhelm the shape and size of your face. 9.) T-shirts. Shirts that flow away from the body work best for me. I also love a longer back to the shirt, such as a tunic. 10.) Yoga pants. I will be the first one to say I own a lot of yoga pants. Black yoga pants are my go to staple. Well, this is the end of my list of staples to wear when a girl has a chronic illness. What are the staples in your chronic illness closet?