We can all relate to that grasping of the nearest object as your vision goes black; you get a spinning sensation, see some stars, and have a heavy head. It's quickly followed by an "I stood up too fast!" as you catch your balance before proceeding to any type of physical activity (walking included).
Gradually, this became the gist of my days, although these near fainting spells couldn't seem to come without bringing their friends along—headaches, nausea, hot flashes, blurred vision, the full out fainting, fatigue, tachycardia, high and low blood pressure, etc. My life completely turned upside down. Getting ready for school became trying to sit up in bed without seeing black, doing an enjoyable activity became laying in bed coloring or writing an article on the days when the brain fog allowed me to transfer my thoughts onto paper, outings required a wheelchair, showers required sitting. This is only a snip it of what life became.
Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) is a type of Dysautonomia and is a form of orthostatic intolerance that is associated with the presence of excessive tachycardia and many other symptoms upon standing. Symptoms include but are not limited to hot flashes, blacking out, dizziness, fainting, headaches, blood pooling, nausea, and fatigue. One's life changes drastically with the diagnosis of POTS, you learn to live a more "supine" lifestyle.
Aside from the obvious, POTS has the power to take away a hell of a lot from you against your will. For example, POTS has taken away my along with many others ability to attend school. Due to the intensity of symptoms, we have no choice but to be homebound and go about learning in a rather lonely environment. POTS forces you to constantly be an outsider due to not being able to keep up. The number of friends lost begins to exceed the number of best friends. You are forced to decline invitations to join in plans with your friends because you simply wont make it through, or because you have doctors appointments. The nights your friends spend partying, you spend in the emergency room or hospital.
The hardest part is the fact that nobody can relate and know what you're going through. It's just not possible for somebody to understand what we go through on a daily basis and it gets lonely, to say the least. The stares of judgment when we park in a handicap spot rage us, the needing to explain why we can't go somewhere makes us feel uncomfortable, the lack of sympathy and understanding when we need to go to the emergency room nearly pulls at our heartstrings.
The last thing we want to be seen as is weak considering at the end we aren't trying to be strong for ourselves but for our loved ones. If we know we let you down, we feel as if we have failed. Every single day, hour, minute, second is a fight for us and it is only human to break down sometimes so please try and understand that sometimes we need a break from reality too.
This life is definitely far from an easy one and it takes a true warrior to fight. So to all my fellow POTSies, keep fighting, and on days that you want to give up please remember that you were given this life because you are more than strong enough to live it. When there seems to be no hope, look at how far you have come. To all the amazing supporters, keep doing what you're doing. You truly are not thanked enough for pushing us to not give up everyday and for always being there, whether it's giving us a shoulder to cry on or a laugh we appreciate it more than words. To all the people who are reading this article, half educated, half dumbfounded, because this is the first that you are hearing from POTS, please click the "share" button or even just tell your loved ones about it. A little awareness can go a long way.