My whole life people’s reactions towards me have been weird. Men, on the whole, adore me. Which has had its plus points but also has a darker side. I’ve been hit on by everyone from my bosses to other people’s husbands, including my Dad’s mates when I was just a teenager several of whom tried to grope me. I’ve had boys at school obsesses over me to such an extend they’ve threatened suicide when I wouldn’t date them. And all because of how I look (I don’t kid myself it’s because of my scintillating personality).
Some women, on the other hand, have hated me with such a passion it’s been truly scary. I was bullied at school mercilessly from the age of 7 til I left at 18 by various girls, one of whom tried to abduct me at knifepoint into a car and another spread a rumour round town that my step-dad and I were having sex, I’d gotten pregnant and had an abortion……at the age of 13. Which, btw, people believed. And all because of how I look (these bullies never spoke a single sentence to me).
I’m pretty enough but I’m hardly Angelina Jolie. I’ve never ever understood people’s fascination with me. I’ve never dressed differently to anyone else, never wore much makeup and always had shit hair. Even now I’m nearly 50 I still don’t get it. As you can imagine, all this gave me a massive complex about my appearance. Thankfully with age comes confidence and when I got to around 30 I stopped caring what other people thought. I can’t help my genes so I embraced them. Other people’s actions aren’t my problem, they’re their problem. If other people want to obsess about me it says a lot about the gaping empty holes in their lives and nothing about me, because I don’t think about these people for any second of any day – my life is too full and they are irrelevant in it.
To make matters worse I have a Mensa level intelligence, not that you would know it these days as my brain is like pea soup 😉 Coming from a working class family I kind’ve stuck out like a sore thumb. I think my parents were both proud I was so clever and embarrassed I “knew everything”, which they think made me look arrogant. So I hid my intelligence a fair bit as a younger person. I think intelligent women feel they have to dumb down being clever because “society” thinks they should be softly spoken and deferential. I say bollocks to that. If knowing stuff other people don’t know makes me arrogant then I guess I’m arrogant. If being more masculine in personality than softly feminine, which I am, makes me arrogant then I’m arrogant. I am who I am, take it or leave it.
So what has all this got to do with being sick? It’s about having the courage of your convictions. It’s about trusting your gut instinct. It’s about inner strength. It’s about speaking out and not being silenced. It’s about making a fuss and standing out, even when everyone around you tells you not to. When they’re telling you to swim with the tide, not against it.
I knew ME wasn’t psychological, that I wasn’t depressed or “lacking in coping skills” but I had an 8 year battle to prove it. I knew I had EDS not Fibromyalgia and knew I wasn’t just “sensitive to pain”. I knew I had MCAD, even when every doctor I’d come across in 15 years told me it’s impossible to react to all drugs and that I was just “anxious”. Everyone was telling me they were right and I was wrong and I should just put up and shut up. I refused. Thank God.
I know some of you out there are currently battling against Doctors, teachers, family members and friends who don’t believe you’re sick. Or who think you’re just being weird not eating certain foods or refusing certain medications. Or who believe you’re just being weak and need to buck your ideas up. Stick with it. Have the courage of your convictions. Be strong. Shout and stamp your feet. Keep on fighting, even when you’re exhausted from the battle.
We are pioneers paving the way for all those who will follow and I, for one, am proud.