Hello, I’m Cass. I am twenty-four years old and this is my story.
Since I was able to work, I was a workaholic. I did not believe in days off – I worked whilst sick. In 2014 whilst balancing two jobs and a full time course, I fell ill with Shingles. I returned to my job in childcare all too quickly, and a month later I fell ill with my second outbreak of Shingles. The second virus changed my life. I have not worked since that day in September 2014. I was left bedridden, dropped quickly to 32kilograms, was dizzy and needed walking assistance; I was unable to digest liquids or solids. My body was fragile.
I was convinced I would die, very young, of something I could not name. I began advocating for myself. I did not sleep, so I spent this time researching Western and Holistic Specialists – begging them to take on my case. My partner (at the time) and I drove to multiple appointments that were hours away, but were always coming out empty-handed. I was laughed at, ridiculed, and judged by Specialists, Doctors, and even my own loved ones. In March 2015 I was diagnosed with an incurable stomach condition called Gastroparesis (stomach paralysis) and Postherpetic Neuralgia (Chronic Nerve Pain from Shingles). It took me six months before I was correctly diagnosed, and most importantly, believed. I am still spending my days going through medication trials, medical appointments, and researching new treatment to try and manage my lifelong condition.
I might have lost a great deal when I fell ill, but I have also gained valuable skills and knowledge in a short space of time. I am kinder and more accepting of others because of what I have experienced, and I am in a position to be able to advocate for the hundreds of Chronically-Ill people who are suffering in silence, or have become too ill to speak. I want to make it known that there are sufferers of Invisible Illnesses all around us, even though you might not pick them in a crowd, and they need to be nurtured and listened to – not turned away, ridiculed and doubted.
We have not asked for this hand of cards in our lives, nor have we created symptoms in our minds to get out of working, studying or living. Nobody enjoys feeling sick, so why is it assumed that we would intentionally do this to ourselves on a daily basis? Unless you’re living with a Chronic Illness, you will never truly understand how it impacts a persons emotional, physical and mental wellbeing – and let me tell you that the Chronically Ill hold a special type of strength within themselves.
I would give anything to be well enough to work my dream job once more; to study further and have the life that I once lived, but for the moment, my journey has taken me down an alternate route and I must embrace each moment it gives me. I am using my story to help unite sufferers of all Chronic Illnesses, and to educate others; if you have your health, do not take it for granted and please live each moment to the absolute fullest because your life can change course in a heartbeat.
It would be an achievement if society were able to accept that the validity of an illness does not have to be put down to a positive test result, and may not always be noticeable from the naked eye. Shadowed from the eyes of society, I feel ill every single day, but today I am strong enough to stand and share with you, that I am so much more than just my illness.
Thank you for reading my Story.
Cass’ full story can be found on her blog:
She also documents her health journey, and can be contacted, through her Instagram: