I’ve been battling with chronic health conditions for over five years, and just several months ago, I gathered enough courage to share with the world about my chronic health condition on social media.
I’ve come to the realization that the first step to truly love and be comfortable with myself, stop being afraid of people’s judgments, and accept my situation without feeling ashamed, is to be open about it in public. Although I had no intentions of hiding my health conditions, I used to feel like I was living two different lives (social media vs real life). Those who just look at my fashion blog or Instagram would not assume that I would need a cane to walk around from time to time or is suffering from chronic health conditions. My first time suffering from joint pain was in my ankle back in 2011, and as the years progressed, I ended up having joint inflammation in both my knees, lower back, and the hands.
For two years, I was on crutches and in a wheelchair during bad flare-ups — physicians were not able to figure out what was wrong with me and blamed that it’s all psychological. I felt useless as I needed to rely on my loved ones to help me with my simple daily tasks. And because of my physical disabilities, I lost many of my close friends, as some gave up accommodating with my limitations when making plans to hang out with me.
Around the same time, I got accepted into the Nursing program, which was my dream career. Unfortunately, I had to decline the offer since I know realistically, my body cannot handle the many hours of clinical work in the hospital during the program.
I felt devastated and hopeless– I cried myself to sleep and contemplated ending my life. I hated the chronic pain. I hated myself. A few months later, I decided to go through psychotherapy, where I learned positive self-talk techniques to minimize my catastrophic thinking. After a year or so of psychotherapy, I decided to shift my mindset from dwelling on the negativity to taking my health into my own hands. I changed my insurance to a better hospital, and requested a re-evaluation.
Weird to say, but I was relieved when my new Rheumatologist told me that my blood test for this gene marker called HLA-B27 came out positive because… does that mean I finally get to see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel?! (A quick health fact: People with an autoimmune disease called Undifferentiated Spondyloarthritis would have a positive HLA-B27 blood test, while people with positive HLA-B27 does not necessarily mean they have an autoimmune disease. Confusing right?!)
As my physician is still testing new medications on me and still trying to find the proper diagnosis, I am continuing physical therapy and trying to maintain a positive mindset that I will get better one day because I’ve come a long way. Giving up would not be an option now. Through my story, I hope others can get rid of any stereotypes or stigmas they may have toward young people with chronic health conditions and/or physical disabilities as they are being overlooked in our society – it is not considered the norm for young individuals to have chronic pain and I’ve always heard remarks such as “you’re too young to be in pain” from others. That is when I decided to create a blog, which is a platform where I can express myself through words, my passion through fashion, and share the little things I enjoy in life in hopes of encouraging other young individuals with chronic health condition to not feel ashamed of themselves or close themselves off from others just like I used to do.