My Identity 'Beyond Illness'

Hello, I’m Sarah, 22 years old and id love to say I’m a creative, mindful soul, you will find me starting my morning with my bullet journal (bujo), reflecting and growing my self-awareness, Among a relaxing herbal pot of tea, it is my number one way to refresh and feel awake.

This year my affirmation is to ‘just get through one more breath’ to me mindfulness is my way of life and I’m flourishing towards a life that takes a slower pace. Creatively, I love embroidery and you will find me stitching away quietly to relax my mind and unwind. I’m most comfortable in my home with my quirky companion Bilbo the rabbit.

I live life with compassion at the heart of it, taking more time to be eco-conscious and taking the pledge to be veggie.

The Reason Behind 'Beyond Existence'

For the majority of years, my illness’s where my identity, I didn’t have other parts of myself I recognised beyond illness and I existed within that world. The last two years have opened my awareness to the many aspects of myself, changing my whole perspective on my diagnosis begun to unearth the missing parts of my identity. Finding acceptance within and embarking on a journey to self-awareness and a well-balanced mind, body and spirit. There is more to life with mental and physical illness. This is why I am here with my blog, beyond a life of illness and beyond the feeling of only existing rather than living life to the full. We can not change the diagnosis but we do have a choice in how we relate to it.

 

The journey has been a lengthy one, from the age of 12 I’ve been sick and what started out with stomach symptoms, only got more complex as I got older. As the fatigue, fainting, worsening stomach problems and pain took hold of my body I continued to decline, my teenage years were filled with missing out at school, friends, and my mental decline only got worse. The depression and anxiety consumed my life. As an undiagnosed patient, I faced conflict and stigma through the battle to diagnosis. I continued in this way until I was 18 when I hit a crisis point, the next couple of years left me wheelchair-bound and experiencing seizures that left me totally dependant on others. The fatigue was unbearable, the pain was daily in my nerves and joints and I had gone beyond the point of depression. My life changed into something unrecognisable but along the way, I’ve learnt I was certainly not alone in my struggles.

Change happens, even if through persistence and eventually, I got them. Diagnosed with Dysautonomia, followed by POTS and later Vestibular migraines, chronic pain, dissociative seizures, secondary depression and after many ruled out tests, Functional Neurological Disorder. My hope really changed when I was awarded funding for rehabilitation services for FND through Coventry hospital, the most amazing multiple disciplinary teams that got me up and walking again and gave me the right treatment. From that four-month stay, I gained better mobility and a better state of mind. From then on I’ve been very active with my diagnosis, trying different therapy including mindfulness-based pain management, cognitive therapy and mindfulness for anxiety and depression, with the added benefit of managing the dissociation. I have continued to expand my wellness toolkit and so far I live a far better life with the management of my conditions.