This is the short version.
If you would like information on selected parts, I have organized my website so you may read what part of my story interests you the most or you will see underlined words through out the website and you may also click on those to take you to more information.
Where I am today is due to a complex series of events paired with my traits and what I have overcome. Of course I did not go through this alone.
Everyone has a story.
Everyone has a battle many know nothing about.
My story and journey is my purpose.
The beginning of what I knew as Chronic & Invisible Illnesses
From the beginning
I was born a highly sensitive person (HSP) with an empathetic heart, and the gift of being an artist. My parents and brother are the same.
I had a great childhood in the east San Francisco Bay Area in California. I would often spend time outside in nature, parks, Tahoe, and Yosemite. I was always in the pool and learned to swim when I was an infant.
In Preschool, I loved art and since then, it’s been a passion. My parents knew I was gifted in this way at this point.
I remember realizing I was different and sensitive in Kindergarten.
By this time, my parents also noticed that there was something not right with my eyes and vision, so I saw an optometrist who referred me to a Pediatric Ophthalmologist where I was diagnosed with Intermittent Exotropia in both eyes with the occurrence of Diplopia. This is a congenital neurological condition. I had to use a patch, do eye exercises, eye drops, and see the doctor for many years after. Luckily it was caught in time to help the Exotropia from getting worse, but this severely affected by life going forward does until this day (more on that in the future).
In first grade, I struggled with reading comprehension. I was temporarily held back from moving on to second grade, but worked through the summer to prove I could go on and after two weeks of the new school year, I was able to move on with friends. But this affected me a lot. I knew I was slower. At this point I struggled to keep up.
Anxiety runs in my genetics, and is also a taught behavior throughout my family on both sides, but I really noticed this is when the anxiety showed itself more. At the time anxiety wasn’t even a word that was associated with how I felt.
Within a few years in 1995, I was diagnosed with borderline ADD but did not receive enough treatment for it. Of course, I already felt behind and different than others, so this just provided one more reason for me to feel that way.
Through these years, I was sick a lot with sinus infections, and continued to struggle in school, and with my sensitivity gift. I always felt things around me harder and more intense. Many peers were not nice to me, and I was pushed around a lot. Bullying is Abuse which I share on this website.
But I coped with Art.
Anxiety now buddied up with my gift of sensitivity and they continued to party together.
The rest of elementary school was challenging, and well into middle school. Of course during this time, people are just getting to know who they are.
I was already struggling with being behind, slow in school and confused about myself (now knowing what it means to be sensitive, empathetic and creative minded).
:: 2001 - 2002 ::
High school arrived, and I played volleyball in the fall. I joined the swim team in the Spring. I also played on a different volleyball team during this time.
This was the beginning of what I knew as Chronic & Invisible Illnesses.
:: 2009 ::
I didn’t start looking for more answers until 2009 after my kidneys shut down from double infections and I was hospitalized. The abuse of Ibuprofen to manage the pain is what the doctors believe my kidneys to quit functioning. I got lucky and healed though.
I started therapy again and I was diagnosed with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder). I kept searching for answers but ended up hitting dead ends with best guess diagnoses’ from doctors like “a mild case of Fibromyalgia" and non allergic rhinitis.
I suffered chronic sinusitis and infections that would keep me sick in bed for weeks. I didn’t have the energy to keep fighting.
At this time, I reconnected with Tony (my husband now) as he was waiting to go to bootcamp. We met in 2002 just after my neck injury.
I also began teaching preschool in 2009. I was in a healthier place in a way. We decided to commit to the military life and long distance.
I tried again to get answers as to why I was fatigued and sick all the time. I saw many doctors. That didn't help much. I got diagnosed with GERD, IBS, and Gastritis, but noting really helped. I kept losing weight and getting extremely sick (half the year). Still no real solutions.
:: 2012 :: I moved to San Diego, got married, and continued my eduction after transferring to SDSU.
:: 2013 - 2014 :: My husband deployed (yay, military life) & my grandma died. Then in 2014 my god brother, and mother in law died with in a few weeks of each other. I graduated from SDSU a few weeks later, and we moved to a new home. In the fall I started my graduate certificate while grieving.
:: 2015 :: I graduated, but needed a break so I didn't continue my education. Tony also transferred to shore duty (a three year period of being attached to a shore command and no sea time) and his orders were perfect. They kept us in San Diego, and he loved his new position. This was the time we thought we would have to start a family. Then both my grandparents died within weeks of each other. A few weeks later, Tony's great grandma died. I grieved more, but slipped into a deeper depression. I knew I needed to find answers on my chronic health issues that I had dealt with since 2002. I also knew the process would be very fatiguing.
:: 2016 :: I broke my nose (funny story for later) I needed surgery asap. I started trying to figure out chronic illness symptoms during the depression. I knew I needed help. I got a therapist out of desperation for my life. I had been through MDD off and on since 2002 so I knew the signs. I opened a can of worms that was just growing and growing.
:: 2017 - 2018 :: I dug a little deeper but not much. I was so fatigued. The depression was lifting, and the lifetime anxiety. I got a part time job at a child development center with a very supportive manager I interned with before in undergrad/grad school even with lots of symptoms. You can read more of my journey in the world of child development where I share resources for parents.
In May I had an extremely painful pinched nerve in the left side of my neck.
On May 18 I woke up with vertigo and as never the same. ER Visits, doctors visit, stopped working, and no driving. My life stopped once again. An MRI, blood work, GI-MAP, Organic Acids Test, VNG, VEMP, CAREN study, vestibular therapy, eye exercises, medications..... more I am probably forgetting...the list goes on.
:: 2019 :: The appointments and more treatments continued. The depression and anxiety ramped up. I had to start an antidepressant and get more treatment. I also got Neuropsych testing and was officially diagnosed with ADHD Inattentive type. For me, I was relieved in a way even though this didn't lead to answers about my vestibular issues. More trial and error. More fighting. I stopped eating gluten and cut back on dairy (I love dairy!) during the beginning of this year. I started yoga, meditation, and mindfulness and never looked back. I started exercising. I was coping better with this new life of more chronic issues.
:: 2020 :: I am still fighting. It's in a more constructive way though. I am in a stage of managing, and coping. I am recovering. I will probably always live with some symptoms. I am not cured. I don't know when I will be from some of this. But I had to throw out the idea of chronic illnesses stopping me from trying to have children. So for now, I am working my way towards that, and just being a healthier person in general. I have many diagnoses, but I am more than them. The most recent is Cervicogenic Dizziness which we believe is stemmed from neck trauma. We see a pattern of vertigo flare ups after a pinched nerve in my neck.
I would love to figure out why I have vestibular issues. I am not sure if this is from a virus. I do wonder if my neck injury or the head trauma from breaking my nose is related. Or both.
You can check back for more updates on resources and treatments as I continue to heal.
I hope that this helps someone out there.