My name is Catherine, I am 24 and I live in Surrey with my partner. Until April 2010, I lived a perfectly normal life, and enjoyed my job in banking, tenpin bowling, reading and socialising with friends. As far as I was concerned life was wonderful!
In April, in evening rush hour, I found myself nose to pavement at London Bridge Train Station having fainted, little did I know that this was the start of a autonomic problem and a new path in life.
After a couple of months in hospital I was under the right specialists and upon discharge, I was apprehensive about the next few months.
I found I was unable to stand or sit for any period of time without fainting, therefore suddenly everyday tasks, brushing my teeth, making a cuppa, washing my hair became a huge challenge.
I relied on a wheelchair to get me out of doors and a walking aid to help me around the house. This change was very frightening and not everyone around me seem to understand or even want to understand what was happening to me. Suddenly I found I didn't want to be left alone, didn't leave the house without anyone and more importantly my independence was disappearing.
I was frustrated, confused, and convinced that my illness was something, I had imagined or brought on myself. Life didn't really have a meaning any more and recovery was the only way in which I was going to get my life back.
Nearly 12 months on I feel like the old me again, its been a hard road, and i've had professional help. I still cant stand for any length of time without eating the floor (my advise would be to stay clear of puddles, stairs and gravel) but its no longer frightening, its just a quirk of me!
I still faint at least daily, and have all the general rubbishy symptoms that come with an autonomic issue (no need to say anymore on this, its bad enough living with it, without having to talk about it all the time), but I can now live my life for me and manage. I'm not fully there yet, I still have barriers to my independence to conquer but I have the confidence now to do this and realise that some things just take time. I still rely on a wheelchair and a walking aid, and help with washing my hair, so my autonomic issue is still at large but I have a different view of it.
I am now working a few hours each day from home, have started a new hobby and spending three days at home on my own, and looking back my autonomic issue has brought many positives and laughs to my life, to the extent my family reckon I should write a book!! (watch this space)
So all in all its not the plan I had in life, and I do hope that one day I will get better, but at present I am happy and take each day as it comes.
Autonomic issues are disabling and it continues to have a huge effect on my life, but my advise would be look to the positives, your personality hasn't changed, and don't compare the past to the future.
Don't worry if what you can now do, is not the same as what you could do... it doesn't matter, it doesn't have to stop you being happy and enjoying life. (Aside: isn't this something that happens anyway - grandparents are a perfect example, I reckon back in the day they could do more than they could now! :D)