Quantcast
You're Not Crazy: Managing An Undiagnosed Illness
Shutterstock

You're Not Crazy: Managing An Undiagnosed Illness

The pain I feel is real.

Her Voice

Thirteen days is the number of days between my last period. It is slightly depressing, especially since it took me five years to get to the 21 days I enjoyed between each cycle for the past year. It is less about an irregular period and more about the glaring truth that something is wrong with me. Combined with debilitating fatigue, migraines, and a host of gut issues, there is no way to hide from my body's need for a reprieve.

I've tried for many years to figure out what's wrong with me, from doctors to specialists, homeopathic remedies, and following a FODMAP diet - an elimination diet of food that causes gas, bloating, stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation. I've had some progress, but nothing that sticks. It feels like I'm in a never-ending episode of The Twilight Zone, haunted by an undiagnosed illness.

One thing for sure, I know I'm not crazy. The pain I feel is real.

Now that it's affecting my daily life, I feel more responsible for figuring out the cause. The most menial tasks feel like a mountain of work, and my energy drops so low that all I can do is sleep. My projects and collaborations have suffered as a result of what's going on. As a certified life coach, my job is to help people fix their lives, but what happens when I'm depleted, sick, and tired? Who helps me? I turn to trusted professionals, and I feel let down. I know getting tested offers hope at what might be wrong, but it is not a panacea to managing my symptoms.

Shutterstock

The healthcare system has a history of implicit bias towards patients based on their race and gender. To be a Black woman means my experience with some healthcare professionals has left me thinking whatever I'm feeling is all in my head after I receive negative test results. The Today Show reported the following:

"A 2016 study found that nearly half of first and second-year medical students believed that Black people have thicker skin than white people, and perceived Black people as experiencing less pain than white people, an idea born from 19th-century experiments that were conducted by a (white) physician named Thomas Hamilton."

This is one of the many reasons Black people and people of color feel like their pain is not taken seriously. As a result, some people choose not to share their symptoms with doctors or take matters into their own hands.

When it comes to healing your body, you have to be all in it. There is no all-in-one-type of approach to personal health. It means you are in the driver's seat navigating the path to making conscious decisions to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. You have the power to ask for more information when discussing your issues with physicians and choosing the best care provider for your needs.

That means it's OK to find another doctor that can communicate better, where you can build mutual trust and respect.

If you are currently undiagnosed and feeling miserable, I see you. I know you can feel overlooked, even with a lot of evaluations. You have to remain hopeful that one day you will find the cause of your pain. Until then, find a support system that recognizes what you're going through and empathizes with it. You could use cheerleaders, people who will cheer you on during tough times. Educate yourself on the symptoms you're experiencing.

I find it extremely helpful to keep a record of my symptoms. No detail is too small, especially when you're early in your journey. You may go down the WebMD rabbit hole, so take everything with a grain of salt. It may also be worth implementing a plan to work around fatigue. I start projects earlier than usual and jot down notes rather than creating big picture messaging, which can take longer and require more focus than I have. It keeps my work current without compromising deadlines. And if you need more time, ask for it, don't wait until the last minute for fear of retribution.

Last but certainly not least, be aware of the seriousness of depression. Although you may not be experiencing symptoms at this moment, depression is one of the most common complications of many chronic illnesses. Be kind to yourself during these moments.

Protect your energy by removing things that don't serve you. Your health is the priority. You cannot help anyone until you take care of yourself.

Featured image by Shutterstock

A Black man, R. Kelly, stands in a court room, wearing an orange jumpsuit with his hands handcuffed behind his back, accompanied by a police officer in a green uniform, bulletproof vest and gun.

*Editors note: this article contains information about sexual assault, child pornography and rape. Please read with care. If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). If you are thinking about suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the Suicide Crisis Line at 1-800-784-2433.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.
Halle Bailey Makes Her Red Carpet Debut With Boyfriend DDG: Here’s What We Know About Him

Halle Bailey and her boyfriend DDG are one of the cutest celebrity couples in the game right now. After confirming their relationship in March 2022, Halle, 22, and DDG, 24, made their red carpet debut as a couple over the weekend during the 2022 BET Awards. In an interview with Extra, The Little Mermaid star shared that she was “nervous” about their debut. “We’re like tryna figure out what we were going to wear. All this stuff,” she said. The couple matched each other’s fly with both wearing all-black outfits.

Keep reading...Show less
Here's Why You Should Ditch Fourth Of July And Have A Family Reunion Instead

“Who made the potato salad?” As summertime kicks off, this is the universal question that, without fail, will be asked at every barbeque and backyard kickback over the coming months. With the Fourth of July also nearing, summertime celebrations and cookouts will be in full force. However, as the tide begins to turn in this new day and age, more Black Americans are celebrating Juneteenth, instead of the Fourth of July, because, after all, there were still over 250,000 Black Americans enslaved in Galveston, Texas during this so-called Independence Day.

Keep reading...Show less
Fitness Influencer Sara Hunt Shares Her Favorite Ways To Enjoy Summer In Chicago

This post is in partnership with Toyota.

Whether it's the lazy afternoons spent laying out on the beach, or nights spent sipping cocktails at your local rooftop hangout, there are so many reasons to love and look forward to summer. It's a time for respite, fun in the sun, and adventure. But as any Chicagoan can tell you, there's something particularly special about "Summertime Chi." The vibes in the Windy City are on 100 when the temperatures rise, and the city literally comes alive in the most magical way.

Keep reading...Show less
Summer Walker Gets Honest About Motherhood And Her Child's Father: ‘I Wish I Paid More Attention’

When Summer Walker began gaining popularity with her debut album Over It, her personal life also took center stage. The “Body” singer worked on her first album with her now ex-boyfriend, producer London On Da Track, and they welcomed a daughter together, Princess Bubblegum. Their relationship was challenged by cheating rumors, and the 26-year-old found herself going back and forth with London’s exes on social media for consistently bashing the singer and the producer.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews
A Black woman looks into the camera and gives a closed-mouth smile. She's wearing a black turtleneck

Miss Diddy Kicks Off BET Awards Weekend With 'A Toast To Black Hollywood'

Her annual event to celebrate the culture has a new name and more intention than ever before

Latest Posts