Battling six invisible diseases and striving to become chronically better as a human being, Courtney's story will truly move you into realms of possibilities!
My name is Courtney Pest and I am a 28 (almost 29!) year old woman battling Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, chronic fatigue, major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder with panic attacks, and other chronic conditions. I am a Leukemia survivor and was on chemotherapy from ages 14-16. I was first diagnosed with the mental illnesses shortly after completion of cancer treatment and the other diagnoses followed thereafter (RA at 22 years old, fibromyalgia at 24 years old.. etc).
At first I was managing these conditions and working full time at a job I loved, until my spine (for lack of a better word) broke. I had my first spinal decompression at 26 years old and my second at 27 years old. I have not been able to return to work since the first surgery.
Being chronically ill introduced me to the Spoonie Community and my life hasn't been the same since. I've met so many people who have changed the way I perceive myself and these illnesses. I am not a victim, I am a warrior! This community has opened my eyes and I can see how the world is so much bigger than the one I was living prior to being sick. I try every day to support, encourage, and inspire other fighters as they battle their bodies as well!
The biggest challenge since becoming ill has definitely been not being able to work. It's the worst part hands down. I used to work with children with special needs. It is my passion and it kills me every day that I can't work with those kids. It breaks my heart. Hopefully one day I'll be well enough to work in some aspect again.
But it has made me grow. I am a different person now and I think I like the person I'm becoming.
If I could give advice to other chronically ill warriors, I'd say be honest about your illnesses. People won't understand if you don't give them the information. They won't offer to help if they don't know you need help.
You're going to have good days and bad days, and sometimes there will be so many bad days that you won't remember what a good day is. Keep fighting. Ask for help, text a friend, keep watching Netflix. Whatever gets you through until a good day comes.
Sometimes nothing makes sense and that's okay.
Laugh when you can, it keeps you sane.
Surround yourself with people who support you.
There are people who love you and are dying to get to know you. Let them. You will change, also. Embrace it.