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Part 1 Chronic Illness Has Unexpected, Horrible Side Effects

1. Chronic Illness Has Unexpected, Horrible Side Effects

Unlike popular medical shows like House, many people with an invisible illness can actually have more than one. It’s like winning the world’s worst lottery.
The first illness I was diagnosed with was endometriosis. Then the doctors realized I had PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). Then – due to my stressful life circumstances, my traumatic history of sexual and emotional abuse, my intense work schedule, and the fact that my body was so used to being in pain – one day I woke up in an immense amount of pain that simply never went away.
Fibromyalgia: the nervous system literally operates on 100%, constantly engaging the flight or fight response until all it can do is turn on itself, electrocuting you from the inside, causing body-wide muscle aches, disrupting your temperature, making all of your senses even more sensitive, and leading to chronic fatigue and brain fog.
That’s not all it does; that’s just the beginning.
Yet this is the actual slippery slope of chronic illness. If you have one already, you’re more likely to develop others.
I didn’t just develop full-blown fibromyalgia; I also found myself depressed and anxious from dealing with each of my physical illnesses and painful history. My PCOS alters my hormone levels, which leads to cyclic depression that matches my menstruation. Add that to the PMDD, and you have my very many suicide attempts.
Pregnancy and menstruation are dangerous for me in ways most people don’t realize. When I’m unable to receive the care I need and when others belittle or don’t understand what I’m going through, it can lead to isolation, depression, and anxiety.
All of my symptoms worsen when life circumstances are also stressful. In societies where simplicity is an ideal, the complexities of living with a chronic illness that no one else can see can make life that much harder.
Sometimes, it can even lead to death.
When you don’t realize that it’s never just one thing affecting our health, but everything, then you can better understand our fatigue, our depression, why we say we can’t do certain things.

You’ll understand that pressuring us about work, education, or other “normal” activities only adds to our stress, which makes every part of our illness worse.

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