Part 1: The Unraveling
As I reflect on the journey that led me to the revelation of my autoimmune disorder, the backdrop of my life was already tumultuous. It was a few months before the COVID-19 pandemic, and my world seemed to crumble as my boyfriend, known as the TT, faced a three-year sentence. The impending separation weighed heavily on me, and a strange malaise began to manifest physically.
The initial symptoms were subtle but persistent. Standing for too long induced a sensation of imminent collapse. Concerned, my boyfriend rushed me to the hospital, where a battery of tests yielded normal results. Despite the reassurances, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was awry.
The episodes persisted, each time sending me into a panic. Emergency room visits became a routine, yet the tests consistently showed no abnormalities. Frustration mounted as doctors attributed my symptoms to anxiety, prescribing medications to quell the perceived mental distress.
As the day approached for my boyfriend to turn himself in, I grappled with the impending solitude. Alone and with a strained relationship with my daughter, I felt abandoned and vulnerable. The day arrived, and I found myself at my lowest ebb, left to navigate the storm of emotions on my own.
The mysterious symptoms continued to plague me, escalating to the point where even standing felt surreal. Convinced that something was wrong, I became my own advocate, delving into research that led me to the term “Derealization.” This mental state, where surroundings feel unreal, resonated with my experiences.
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated my struggles. Fearful of hospitals teeming with the infected, I turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms, particularly alcohol. It provided a temporary respite, but the toll on my body became increasingly apparent.
Desperate for support, my brother, alias Ninja, came to my aid. Together, we made the journey upstate to visit my incarcerated boyfriend, providing a temporary reprieve. However, as my brother returned to his own life, I faced the daunting prospect of managing these symptoms alone.
Part 2: Descent into Darkness
Alone and spiraling, I found solace in the only remedy that seemed to work—alcohol. The drinking became a crutch, masking the underlying issues but exacerbating my physical health. In an attempt to break free, I attempted to quit, only to be met with crippling chest pains.
The turning point arrived in 2023, coinciding with my boyfriend’s release from prison. Struggling with addiction, unemployment, and a newly discovered autoimmune disorder, we found ourselves teetering on the edge of the life we promised to leave behind.
Promises shattered as my boyfriend returned to illicit activities to sustain us. Meanwhile, my health deteriorated, and the quest for answers led me to a hematologist who finally uncovered the truth. High levels in my blood indicated an autoimmune disorder—my body attacking itself.
The revelation brought both relief and despair. Finally armed with a diagnosis, I grappled with the gravity of the situation. Countless hospital visits, the struggle to be taken seriously, and the toll on my mental health—all validated by a single blood test.
Yet, as I stand on the precipice of understanding, a new challenge emerges. Afflicted with COVID-19 and immunocompromised, I face a fresh battle. The journey is far from over, and as I navigate this uncharted territory, your prayers and support are my only companions. My name is Rose, and this is just the beginning of my story.