basis. My menstrual cycle went from normal to
unmanageable and irregular. My blood pressure
was low all the time, and I fainted often. My body
odor was so bad that deodorant didn’t cover it
up. My hair fell out in clumps in the shower.
I had cystic acne, ringing in my ears and my
nervous system wasn’t functioning properly.
My senses became overwhelmed, and any loud
or unexpected noises became overwhelming to
the point they caused me physical pain.
I also became unable to process alcohol. Even
two glasses of wine caused me to black out and
gave me a hangover lasting two to three days. I
had trouble recalling the names of people I knew,
and socializing became very difficult because
even when I was able to will myself out of bed, I
couldn’t concentrate on conversations. I would
stand in front of people I’d known my entire life
and not be able to remember anything about
them because my mind was blank.
Over the course of three and a half years, I was
diagnosed with several hormone imbalances,
hypothyroidism, arthritis, chronic fatigue
syndrome, fibromyalgia, ovarian cysts, chronic
mono, depression and anxiety.
I was referred to the Mayo Clinic and the
Cleveland Clinic but neither would accept me
without a more definitive diagnosis.
I was told I was crazy, literally, more than once.
I was told I was depressed, regularly.
I was told I was a hypochondriac and that
these symptoms were imagined.
I had scans, saliva tests, MRI’s, stool tests, urine
tests, genetic tests, food allergy tests, hair growth
analysis, muscle testing and more. I saw every
kind of doctor that would see me, often waiting
months and paying thousands for appointments
and testing. I explored every opportunity for help,
which always ended up being a road to none or
little relief at best.
My husband and I struggled to manage our
daily lives, and he had now known me longer as a
sick person than he had as a healthy person. So,
this became our normal. He often took the girls
to birthday parties and family events without me
because I couldn’t get out of bed much of the
time. He drove the girls to school every morning
as I laid in bed angry and hurting emotionally
and physically. Scheduling meetings or planning
get-togethers with family or friends became
difficult because we never knew how I would feel
when the time came. Canceled plans became
my normal and I began to ridicule myself with
guilt for all of the life events that were missed.
I assume people just thought I was depressed,
or that I didn’t love them anymore.
The confusion, shame, and frustration wore
us down and inevitably took a toll on our own
relationship. We hid my physical suffering from
almost everyone other than our children. The
reasons for this were complicated. Neither of us
are good at asking for help, but my father also had
cancer at the time and I didn’t want to put any
extra health-related stress on my family. But most
importantly the underlying (and direct) messages
we were getting from doctors were not supportive
or hopeful. There was almost always an element
of “You are making this up. This is depression.
This is imagined and/or psychological.” After
hearing that so many times, I was conditioned
to think no one would believe me even if I did
tell them what was going on.
Because I had prescriptions for an
a n t i d e p re s s a n t , a b e n z o d i a z e p i n e, a n
amphetamine and three different hormones, I
was able to use these to maintain a somewhat
normal outward appearance. I worked a part-