I’d always felt sick. For as long as I can remember. The pain, the fatigue. It has always been there. But until I gave birth to my daughter in 2018, I carried on as ‘normal’, struggling but just about hanging onto a job, to maintain a social life. But as soon as my daughter was born everything changed. I was getting sicker and I knew I had to find some answers. Answers have alluded me for 15 or so years after medical gaslighting. So after many doctor visits, I was finally diagnosed with Fibromyalgia in May 2020. Little did I know that would only be the start. Of more diagnoses, and of complete upheaval and bereavement of the life I knew before.
Collector of Chronic Illnesses
After needing to take almost a year off work because of worsening symptoms (I worked for an Australian Government Authority), I knew something big would have to change. I knew deep down I wouldn’t be able to continue the 9-5 rat race, deadlines, commuting, and pressure. I could barely focus (brain fog), and the fatigue and pain were almost unbearable. Yet I managed to get back to work in December 2020. I thought I was getting back on track. I was wrong. In May 2021 I finally had to concede defeat and I quit my job after being diagnosed with CFS/ME and Psoriatic Arthritis. I couldn’t do it anymore. And my role as mum was suffering. I began a blog about my journey on IG as I felt it was important to be open and honest about my journey. There is still a lot of stigma with invisible illness and I was determined being raw about my experiences was important to help to raise awareness.
Always loved Pottery and have been a sucker for fashion.
Suddenly, I was unemployed, coming to terms with an Invisible Disability (I’d just ordered my first mobility aid), and struggling to adjust to the limitations of my illnesses. My mental health declined and my anxiety increased. It was a dark few weeks. I knew I needed to find a way to earn money, but ‘regular’ jobs weren’t an option. Most of my days were spent in bed in pain, no amount of sleep ever-reducing my fatigue, and I was slipping into the darkness. Until I remembered how empowering the ‘spoonie’ (a term used by people suffering from chronic and invisible illnesses) community was, and as I was already writing an IG blog about my journey. I felt I owed it to my followers to inspire and be strong and to advocate any way I could... For them, and for myself. So I took inspiration and booked myself onto a hand-building ceramics course, something I’d always wanted to do, as well as contacted a modeling agency. I laughed as I wrote the application to the model agency ‘as if they’d want me. But guess what? The modeling agency did want me. Flaws and all. And that same week I landed a contract with them. I also completed my ceramics course. Things were looking up, and I had a newfound confidence and self-belief I’d never had before.
Where am I now?
Present-day - I’m still sick. But I’m happy. I spend the hours I’m able making ceramics at my kitchen table and have plans to open my own small-batch ceramics business. I love everything about it. I feel free, and inspired and adore creating pieces that are both functional and beautiful. I’m still learning (and probably always will be), but I had an instant connection to using my hands to create art, and I know I’ve found the ‘thing’ I was meant to do. I’d never have done it were it not for my diagnosis. I’d have been too scared and would have found a million reasons for not doing it. As for the modeling, I’ve been put forward for a number of roles and am hopeful for an audition soon! I’m excited to be able to represent ‘real’ women and people with disabilities. Invisible illness is so tough for so many reasons, but I am proof that if you look for the positives, you may just wind up making your dreams come true. Most of all, I have more quality time now with my almost 3-year-old. I struggle with my chronic illnesses daily, but I feel I’ve found the perfect balance for me. You really can find happiness and a sense of achievement no matter your ability. You just need to feel inspired and believe in yourself!