Julie McGovern was shamed by a stranger who called her a “faker” for using a disabled parking spot because she looked like there is nothing wrong with her, but there is.
The former athlete took to Facebook to make a passionate plea and ask people to share her story so it “goes viral” and bring awareness to a growing problem. In the post titled, “Today My Fear Came True,” Julie McGovern shares her story and explains that things are not always what others perceive them to be.
In 2005, McGovern — who was always active in school — started to feel extremely tired after physical activity, but carried on until she was diagnosed with Mononucleosis.
“I thought my excessive fatigue, sore throat, headache, and over all sickness was due to being a freshman living in the dorms. It is not uncommon to get sick in that environment. However, my symptoms progressed and I went to the Dr. As soon as I learned about the mono, I immediately stopped these activities.”
But this was just the beginning of Julie McGovern’s ordeal, and six months later, she began fainting, feeling nauseous, having migraines, and feeling like her heart was racing. When she could no longer walk to her mailbox, McGovern decided to go back to the doctor. She knew something was wrong.
Unfortunately, the doctor she went to told her there was nothing wrong with her and it was probably just anxiety, but she knew otherwise. Her symptoms were undeniable, and Julie McGovern began her search for someone who would listen to her.
“I finally found a doctor who changed my life with a few simple words, ‘I believe you.’ Together he and I began the journey to find out why my quality of life had decreased in such drastic ways. After many tests, I was diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) My physician believed because of the mono and my continued activity, the mono destroyed my autonomic system, which controls all things in the body that are automatic. This illness effects literally every organ in the body.”
McGovern continues her heartbreaking tale saying that her condition means that her blood pressure can suddenly drop to dangerously low levels, while her heart rate can skyrocket unexpectedly. Due to these and other symptoms, the young woman’s life has drastically changed in every way. Nothing is the same it used to be.
“Being a young person with an invisible chronic illness is one of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with. People think I look fine, so I am not sick. It isn’t that I’m looking for sympathy, but respect and compassion.”
Due to the unpredictability of Julie McGovern’s symptoms, her doctor issued her a disabled parking permit. Because it seems nothing is wrong with her on the outside, she is self-conscious when using her placard and sometimes sits in her car waiting until no one is around to get out.
“Being handicapped isn’t always a wheelchair or crutches. Some illnesses manifest themselves internally and destroy the body from within. I have one of those illnesses.”
Even her friends don’t understand how hard having POTS really is and believe things such as getting more rest will cure her. As a result of her disability, Julie McGovern doesn’t have much of a social life and on July 20, her worst fear came true when a perfect stranger left a note in her car that read, “faker.”
“Today my worst fear came true. So many emotions flooded my mind. I was hurt, I was angry, I wanted my voice to be heard, but this person is a coward and could not tell me what he/she thought to my face. This person incorrectly perceived my situation, because it is impossible for someone my age to have an illness. This person doesn’t know me or my struggles. They don’t know what this illness has taken from me. They don’t see the countless nights I cry myself to sleep, soaking my pillow with tears, pleading – praying for God to heal me. They don’t see the weakness, the pain, the symptoms that are very real, but only I can feel. They don’t understand, and until it happens to them they never will.”
[Image via Facebook]