Commentary: I have no shame in sharing my story


Ashley Lucia, features editor

My freshmen year, the least important year on paper, but my most significant year so far was plagued by stress and an overwhelming lack of control.

  The previous six months of my eighth grade school term were filled with anxiety, doctor appointments, and a whole lot of unanswered questions. I was suffering from constant dizziness, fatigue, and frequent fainting spells.

   No one knew what was wrong with me.

  It took over four months, countless specialist visits, and strong feelings of isolation before uncovering any answers.

  My diagnosis was simple yet complex in the most miraculous way possible‒I was healthy.

  It was the summer before my freshman year when a little known neurological disorder, Dysautonomia, found its way into my life. Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) was the term used to define my lengthy list of symptoms.

  The basic analysis of the syndrome is the dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system. In other words, the system controlling my breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature regulation, and digestion among many other vital involuntary actions was not functioning properly.

  And this held drastic effects in the year to come.

  My transition, as some call it, into high school proved to be much more difficult than my peers as I struggled to accept and adapt to the new obstacle I was facing.

  Feelings of isolation intensified as I not only needed to find ways to manage my symptoms, but also overcome other challenges such as my mother’s recovery from a lengthy hospitalization with its own unanswered questions.

  In the beginning, I spent time questioning how this was fair and why I had been dealt this bad hand.

  Once I opened my eyes to the fact that I was stronger than I believed,  I saw some real change.

  Things were not perfect, but I had received the best answer possible, and one that I would quickly grow to see as manageable.

  I was initially blind to the support system surrounding me, but after accepting the fact that it was necessary to ask for help, the feeling of isolation began to diminish.

  I was learning to thrive despite the looming challenge that was unpredictable and complicated. Looking back, I am proud to be where I am now‒comfortable with who I am.

  Anytime my day does not fare well due to my personal health obstacle, I reflect on my freshmen year and the strength that I found within myself then and will always have now.