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Hannah’s Inspiring Interview: Navigating Multiple Chronic Illnesses (M.E/CFS, Fibromyalgia, hEDS).

"I am very grateful to share Hannah's story, which serves as a powerful example of resilience and adaption when faced with the challenges of chronic illness." - Ellie Howe, creator, and author of 'A Note of Hope.'


Reader note: Hannah uses they/them pronouns.


 

In 2022, Hannah received a late diagnosis of autism. Additionally, in 2023, they were diagnosed with M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), followed by fibromyalgia and hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS) in January 2024.


The symptoms associated with any one of these conditions can be overwhelming on their own. However, being diagnosed with all four has profoundly affected Hannah's quality of life.


“I’m late diagnosed autistic (diagnosed in 2022), M.E/CFS (started in 2022 but diagnosed Oct 2023), I have Fibromyalgia and hEDS (diagnosed Jan 2024). I live with chronic pain, fatigue that often leaves me housebound (if not bedbound some days), dizziness, hypermobile joints (which often lead to falls), and so many other things I’ve definitely forgotten!” - Han.

 

To find out more about Hannah's diagnoses, click the links below:

Autism

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain.


Click Here


M.E/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome)

Fibromyalgia

hEDS (Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome)

 


Reflecting on their situation, Hannah acknowledges, "Accepting that this is my reality now has been my biggest challenge." Managing multiple chronic conditions demands a delicate balance, one that Hannah admits they struggle to maintain, leading to debilitating flare-ups.


They’re not alone; navigating the impact of these diagnoses can be immensely difficult for anyone, especially whilst watching others dive headfirst into work or education, hit major milestones, and make plans for an uninhibited future. It’s easy for anyone to feel the weight of comparison. This pressure, however, is then compounded by the fact that even simple tasks, like getting out of bed, can leave those with chronic illnesses feeling drained and overwhelmed.

“The biggest challenge for me has been accepting that this is my reality now, I've found it hard managing my conditions and often send myself into flare ups overdoing things” - Han.
 



Despite the limitations imposed by their health, Hannah finds joy in simple pleasures. An avid reader, on days when the frustrating symptom of brain fog does not cloud Hannah’s mind, they enjoy immersing themselves in the stories from their favourite novels. As well as this, on days when they are well enough to leave the house, Hannah tells us that they enjoy seeing other people's pets.

“I love reading, when brain fog and my mood allow, but I also love seeing animals, mostly peoples pets, on days when I can get out.” - Han

Hannah has also achieved a significant milestone – successfully completing an undergraduate degree and now pursuing a masters in Business Psychology. After hearing the impact their conditions have on their daily life, this is testament to Hannah’s resilience and determination.

“My achievement is passing my undergrad and I’m currently studying towards my masters!” - Han.
 



Reflecting on their journey, Hannah offers poignant advice to their younger self and others navigating similar paths: "Never be scared to ask for help and it's okay to do things others see as the 'easy' option if it makes life a little bit easier for you”. In a society often fixated on notions of self-sufficiency and independence, Hannah’s words serve as a gentle reminder of the importance of self-care and embracing one's limitations.

“To my younger self, I’d say…never be scared to ask for help and that it’s okay to do things others see as the “easy” option if it makes life a little bit easier for you.” - Han.
 

Thank you Hannah for sharing your inspiring story for the 'A Note of Hope' project.


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