Like, let’s go back to being an 8-year-old.
Now let’s make a list of things we remember caring about at that time in our lives (lists may vary…but, let’s be honest, probably not much).
- My barbie collection
- My barbie jeep
- My barbie dreamhouse
- Lucky Charms cereal
- Tormenting my younger brother
- Playing dress up
- Not getting a “color change” in school for bad behavior…I would say that about covered it for me. What about you?
At least, that’s what I cared about until one day– one day when everything in my world drastically changed– the day my journey with PANDAS began.
While everyone else my age carried on with their dolls, tonka toys, and educations, I was down and out with an autoimmune disorder that stole five years of my childhood, yet provided me perspective for a lifetime.
I was diagnosed with PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections) in 1999.
PANDAS entails a rapid onset of OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) caused by group A beta-hemolytic streptococcal infections (GABHS).
In other words, my body showed no symptoms of a strep infection, when I did contract strep.
Eventually, an autoimmune reaction ensued as my body attacked itself, producing antibodies that interfered with the basal ganglia function of my brain.
Not to mention, doctors were very unfamiliar with PANDAS back then and I ended up bouncing around from hospital to hospital, state-to-state, and doctor-to-doctor, before it was finally determined that my condition was this rare autoimmune disorder.
Now, let’s jump back to adulthood. At 21, I often times feel that I intentionally suppress the memories that accompanied this particular period of my life…
I mean who wants to dwell on something they remember as totally traumatic or devastating moment in their life?
I guess, in a way, it makes sense that we fear remembering the horrible feelings felt during those moments in our lives.
But, surprisingly I find that in recalling this time of my life now, I seem to only be able to remember the good things.
Sometimes…I just feel like we need to let ourselves be human. It’s raw. It’s powerful. And it’s what we are.
Watch the video below on Susan Swedo and the NIMH research protocol for PANDAS that I took part in during the time of my illness.