No One Believed I Was Sick

No One Believed I Was Sick

For fifteen years, I battled with my illness. Every day was a struggle. Every minute was a struggle. I knew deep in my soul that something was seriously wrong with me. All of my life prior to my illness, I had been very healthy. I knew my body, but my doctors could not find anything wrong with me so they quickly labeled me as depressed and then after my persistence to try to find the root of my illness they labeled me a hypochondriac. I tried doctor after doctor and asked for test after test but no one believed me.

All of my life I had been healthy so I assumed that the people who knew me best would believe me when I was ill. Wrong!

I had assumed that the people who always knew me best would be my cheerleaders when the going got rough. Wrong!

I had assumed that doctors would be my greatest health advocates and my greatest guides if ever anything health-related happened to me. Wrong again!

I moved back home to Connecticut in 2001, a few months after September 11, five years after my college graduation, several years after my illness had begun. My parents didn’t see any sense for me having an apartment in New York City if I couldn’t get out of bed. I had been bedridden for weeks before my parents came and packed up my belongings and brought me back to my childhood home.

It was a sad day for me leaving New York City because I felt like my dreams had been taken away from me. It was my ambition to be in actress and to appear on the Broadway stage. Dreams dashed too soon.

Once I arrived in Connecticut, my mother labeled me as lazy.

“I am so sick! Something is really wrong with me!” I shouted from under my covers.

To which my mother replied, “You’re fine. You’re just depressed. Get out of bed!”

I couldn’t get out of bed. The pain was unbearable; it was a heavy throbbing pressure all over my body!

My mother didn’t bring food up to my bedroom for me to eat. She believed in tough love. So quickly after a week or two of little nourishment, I transitioned from spending the day lying in my bed upstairs to lying on the sofa in the family room downstairs, adjacent to the kitchen. Food is sometimes a great motivator.

It seemed to be a blessing to be cared for by my primary care doctors in Connecticut. They had known me since childhood. We had a history. In the past, I had seen my doctors mostly for check-ups because I rarely got sick as a child, but at least, I wasn’t a stranger. They knew me.

My father thought extremely high of our primary care doctor, Dr. A. He credited him as being “the best doctor he had ever seen.” Dr. A took detailed notes, always followed up, and even made home visits for my father when he was extremely sick. My father would get violently ill every blue moon and would be unable to leave the house. Dr. A would happily appear for him in his bedroom with his doctor’s bag. It was like a scene from the movies.

However, Dr. A had a really bad bedside manner, especially to women, so I decided to see Dr. A’s wife, Dr. G, who was a new doctor with the practice.

She examined me, heard my story and determined that I was depressed.

“Depressed? No, it can’t be! I’m in pain! I can’t get out of bed!” I said.

“Depression will do that to you,” she said and wrote me a prescription for a common antidepressant.

Reluctantly, I took the prescription for a week and it gave me major panic attacks.

“Take me off of this!” I exclaimed.

She put me on another antidepressant, but it gave me migraines and horrible nausea. I couldn’t eat. I felt numb. My body wasn’t having any of that.

After I week, I stopped taking those too.

I was not sad. I was sick. Why didn’t she believe me?

I tried acupuncture too but even my acupuncturist told me that there was nothing wrong with me.

“You are too stressed and worried,” said my acupuncturist. “The real world is hard. You needed to go out and have fun!”

Have fun? I couldn’t even get out of bed, nonetheless go out dancing! What was he talking about?

I decided to take my father’s advice. I made an appointment to see Dr. A.

Dr. A completed a full health history and concluded that I was anorexic.

Anorexic? What was he talking about?

It was true that I had become very thin and that I wasn’t gaining weight, but I was really disappointed to hear that my doctor thought the reason I had no energy was because I was refusing to put food in my body!

Did he forget that I lived with my parents and that they loved to feed people?

I tried other doctors.

I found a doctor in New York City who diagnosed me with having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

To which Dr. C scratched his head and replied, “There is no such thing as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It is an illness created by the alternative health industry. It doesn’t exist.”

Finally a diagnosis and it didn’t exist? Are you kidding me?

Flash forward. Years later I found another primary care doctor, a well-regarded doctor, named Dr. E.

After months of seeing him, complaining about my health and requesting further tests, one day Dr. Eshuffled into the room and plopped onto a silver trash can by the door when he spotted me. He didn’t even attempt to walk a few more paces to the swivel chair. My file flopped on his lap and he stared at me in disbelief before looking at his watch as if to say, “Oh, no, not you again?! How much of my precious time are you going to waste today? Can I still make a quick escape? I have important patients to see!”

One day I returned to Dr. A with pages and pages of research. I believed in my heart that I had discovered the root cause of my illness. I was ecstatic! The Prescription for Nutritional Healing had become my bible. For the fifteen years I was ill, I researched alternative health and wellness. I had read book after book; I had scoured the internet; and this book particularly gave me incredible insight on how the human body works and how it heals. The book clearly stated all of my symptoms: muscle weakness, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, depression, nausea, loss of appetite, headaches, and joint pain, etc. and the cause: heavy metal toxicity. Wow, this is it!

I printed out the pages for Lead Poisoning, Mercury Poisoning, Arsenic Poisoning etc. (all the heavy metals) and presented them to my doctor.

My face beamed.

“I think I have heavy metals! I have all the symptoms!”

He scoffed at my papers, crossed his legs, and let out a disgruntled sigh.

“Have you been chewing on mercury thermometers?” asked Dr. A.

“No,” I said.

“Have you worked in an industrial factory?” he asked.

“No.”

“Have you been consuming lead paint chips?”

“No.”

“Then there is NO WAY you could have heavy metal poisoning! I can’t stand patients who think they can self-diagnose themselves with Google. You are no doctor! You have no training!”

He threw the papers at me and left the room.

Two years later, I was diagnosed with having extremely high levels of heavy metals in my blood. The highest levels my doctor had ever seen. My lab results were reported to the state of Connecticut. I had been exposed to a dangerous environmental hazard. Everyone wondered how this could have happened to me.

I wondered how this could have happened to me too. I was a well-educated woman who came from an affluent background who grew up in a safe, idyllic town in suburban Connecticut where most people knew one another. I grew up being close with my family and had many close friends, but once I became ill no one believed me.

It was hard being judged all of those years by friends, family, and doctors. It was hard not to be taken seriously. It was hard to hear that most people assumed I was depressed and not strong enough to take the hardships of life or too lazy to even try. It was hard feeling so alone during the greatest struggle of my life. But the worst part was the fact that I could have been given a proper diagnosis and regained my health, at least two years earlier, if not more, if a doctor had listened to me instead of assuming that he knew all the answers.

My story makes me wonder how many other people struggle with an invisible chronic illness but because of lack of support or lack of faith they give up, maybe a second before their true diagnosis, perhaps a second before their miracle.

There was one person who believed in me during this ordeal. My father was my one shining light. My champion. He always believed in me. I am eternally grateful for his love and support.

And of course, I am so grateful that I had such an amazing, fighting spirit who always believed something was physically wrong with me, that it was not in my head or a sign of aging, as some had said. It was not a cross for me to bear, but an obstacle for me to overcome.

I am so thankful that I knew I had a higher purpose than being sick all of my life.

Today I am so grateful that I can give back, share my journey, and shine.


For fifteen years, I battled with my illness. Every day was a struggle. Every minute was a struggle. I knew deep in my soul that something was seriously wrong with me. All of my life prior to my illness, I had been very healthy. I knew my body, but my doctors could not find anything wrong with me so they quickly labeled me as depressed and then after my persistence to try to find the root of my illness they labeled me a hypochondriac. I tried doctor after doctor and asked for test after test but no one believed me.

All of my life I had been healthy so I assumed that the people who knew me best would believe me when I was ill. Wrong!

I had assumed that the people who always knew me best would be my cheerleaders when the going got rough. Wrong!

I had assumed that doctors would be my greatest health advocates and my greatest guides if ever anything health-related happened to me. Wrong again!

I moved back home to Connecticut in 2001, a few months after September 11, five years after my college graduation, several years after my illness had begun. My parents didn’t see any sense for me having an apartment in New York City if I couldn’t get out of bed. I had been bedridden for weeks before my parents came and packed up my belongings and brought me back to my childhood home.

It was a sad day for me leaving New York City because I felt like my dreams had been taken away from me. It was my ambition to be in actress and to appear on the Broadway stage. Dreams dashed too soon.

Once I arrived in Connecticut, my mother labeled me as lazy.

“I am so sick! Something is really wrong with me!” I shouted from under my covers.

To which my mother replied, “You’re fine. You’re just depressed. Get out of bed!”

I couldn’t get out of bed. The pain was unbearable; it was a heavy throbbing pressure all over my body!

My mother didn’t bring food up to my bedroom for me to eat. She believed in tough love. So quickly after a week or two of little nourishment, I transitioned from spending the day lying in my bed upstairs to lying on the sofa in the family room downstairs, adjacent to the kitchen. Food is sometimes a great motivator.

It seemed to be a blessing to be cared for by my primary care doctors in Connecticut. They had known me since childhood. We had a history. In the past, I had seen my doctors mostly for check-ups because I rarely got sick as a child, but at least, I wasn’t a stranger. They knew me.

My father thought extremely high of our primary care doctor, Dr. A. He credited him as being “the best doctor he had ever seen.” Dr. A took detailed notes, always followed up, and even made home visits for my father when he was extremely sick. My father would get violently ill every blue moon and would be unable to leave the house. Dr. A would happily appear for him in his bedroom with his doctor’s bag. It was like a scene from the movies.

However, Dr. A had a really bad bedside manner, especially to women, so I decided to see Dr. A’s wife, Dr. G, who was a new doctor with the practice.

She examined me, heard my story and determined that I was depressed.

“Depressed? No, it can’t be! I’m in pain! I can’t get out of bed!” I said.

“Depression will do that to you,” she said and wrote me a prescription for a common antidepressant.

Reluctantly, I took the prescription for a week and it gave me major panic attacks.

“Take me off of this!” I exclaimed.

She put me on another antidepressant, but it gave me migraines and horrible nausea. I couldn’t eat. I felt numb. My body wasn’t having any of that.

After I week, I stopped taking those too.

I was not sad. I was sick. Why didn’t she believe me?

I tried acupuncture too but even my acupuncturist told me that there was nothing wrong with me.

“You are too stressed and worried,” said my acupuncturist. “The real world is hard. You needed to go out and have fun!”

Have fun? I couldn’t even get out of bed, nonetheless go out dancing! What was he talking about?

I decided to take my father’s advice. I made an appointment to see Dr. A.

Dr. A completed a full health history and concluded that I was anorexic.

Anorexic? What was he talking about?

It was true that I had become very thin and that I wasn’t gaining weight, but I was really disappointed to hear that my doctor thought the reason I had no energy was because I was refusing to put food in my body!

Did he forget that I lived with my parents and that they loved to feed people?

I tried other doctors.

I found a doctor in New York City who diagnosed me with having Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

To which Dr. C scratched his head and replied, “There is no such thing as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. It is an illness created by the alternative health industry. It doesn’t exist.”

Finally a diagnosis and it didn’t exist? Are you kidding me?

Flash forward. Years later I found another primary care doctor, a well-regarded doctor, named Dr. E.

After months of seeing him, complaining about my health and requesting further tests, one day Dr. Eshuffled into the room and plopped onto a silver trash can by the door when he spotted me. He didn’t even attempt to walk a few more paces to the swivel chair. My file flopped on his lap and he stared at me in disbelief before looking at his watch as if to say, “Oh, no, not you again?! How much of my precious time are you going to waste today? Can I still make a quick escape? I have important patients to see!”

One day I returned to Dr. A with pages and pages of research. I believed in my heart that I had discovered the root cause of my illness. I was ecstatic! The Prescription for Nutritional Healing had become my bible. For the fifteen years I was ill, I researched alternative health and wellness. I had read book after book; I had scoured the internet; and this book particularly gave me incredible insight on how the human body works and how it heals. The book clearly stated all of my symptoms: muscle weakness, dizziness, fatigue, insomnia, depression, nausea, loss of appetite, headaches, and joint pain, etc. and the cause: heavy metal toxicity. Wow, this is it!

I printed out the pages for Lead Poisoning, Mercury Poisoning, Arsenic Poisoning etc. (all the heavy metals) and presented them to my doctor.

My face beamed.

“I think I have heavy metals! I have all the symptoms!”

He scoffed at my papers, crossed his legs, and let out a disgruntled sigh.

“Have you been chewing on mercury thermometers?” asked Dr. A.

“No,” I said.

“Have you worked in an industrial factory?” he asked.

“No.”

“Have you been consuming lead paint chips?”

“No.”

“Then there is NO WAY you could have heavy metal poisoning! I can’t stand patients who think they can self-diagnose themselves with Google. You are no doctor! You have no training!”

He threw the papers at me and left the room.

Two years later, I was diagnosed with having extremely high levels of heavy metals in my blood. The highest levels my doctor had ever seen. My lab results were reported to the state of Connecticut. I had been exposed to a dangerous environmental hazard. Everyone wondered how this could have happened to me.

I wondered how this could have happened to me too. I was a well-educated woman who came from an affluent background who grew up in a safe, idyllic town in suburban Connecticut where most people knew one another. I grew up being close with my family and had many close friends, but once I became ill no one believed me.

It was hard being judged all of those years by friends, family, and doctors. It was hard not to be taken seriously. It was hard to hear that most people assumed I was depressed and not strong enough to take the hardships of life or too lazy to even try. It was hard feeling so alone during the greatest struggle of my life. But the worst part was the fact that I could have been given a proper diagnosis and regained my health, at least two years earlier, if not more, if a doctor had listened to me instead of assuming that he knew all the answers.

My story makes me wonder how many other people struggle with an invisible chronic illness but because of lack of support or lack of faith they give up, maybe a second before their true diagnosis, perhaps a second before their miracle.

There was one person who believed in me during this ordeal. My father was my one shining light. My champion. He always believed in me. I am eternally grateful for his love and support.

And of course, I am so grateful that I had such an amazing, fighting spirit who always believed something was physically wrong with me, that it was not in my head or a sign of aging, as some had said. It was not a cross for me to bear, but an obstacle for me to overcome.

I am so thankful that I knew I had a higher purpose than being sick all of my life.

Today I am so grateful that I can give back, share my journey, and shine.


Please leave your comments below. Has a doctor ever not taken your health seriously? Has a friend of family member not understood your pain and struggles with your chronic illness? How do you carry on even with all the doubts and non-supporters? What keeps you going?