Anemia, it doesn’t exactly conjure up images of a unhealthy struggle, we usually tend to think of anemia as a slightly lowered iron count and nothing else, but what comes attached to that is nothing short of a nightmare.
I’ve been anemic as long as I can remember, my early teens were a time spent taking days off school when my energy levels became unbearable to cope with, constant fainting spells, black outs and many a school trip spent riding on the back of the bus whilst everyone else was out having fun, it certainly made for difficult times. You see, one of the main reasons my anemia came on in the first place was the joys of my first period, even then I was graced with the curse of a heavy flow, and naturally my bodies way of coping with this was to lower my iron count.
Since then I’ve been learning to adjust my body to cope with the anemia, it certainly doesn’t come easy, you see they don’t exactly tell you much about learning to live with anemia, a simple prick to keep on top of your iron levels every now and then, and another dose of tablets to help you cope. They don’t tell you about the energy crashes, the constant fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, black outs, depression, hair loss, unsightly fingernails, and unfortunate dark circles that come along with it.
It’s not exactly been an easy run living day to day with anemia, there’s been sometimes where I’ve even wondered how I’ve got through each day, particularly when it comes to work, let me tell you it’s no picnic starting the work day off already feeling drained, lifeless and physically exhausted, at some point the adrenaline kicks in and you just get on with it, going home to sleep it off and start all over again.
With anemia it’s the side effects that really get to you, you don’t think that patches of hair will start falling out, or that your fingernails will start to flake away and curve in the most unsightly manner, in some ways it’s these visible affects that really get you down the most, especially at such a young age, you wouldn’t expect to start loosing hair in your twenties, it’s a real knock to your confidence and even led to me withdrawing myself from day to day life.
Anemia certainly isn’t an easy run, there’s been times when I’ve had to hold my tongue when (ex) colleagues commented on how I didn’t look ill at all whenever I’d have to take an unexpected sick day because of my sudden energy crashes and unbearable fatigue, it’s like hitting a brick wall that just won’t give way.
As time goes by I’ve learnt to cope with my anemia, making lifestyle changes to allow me to get on day to day around my anemia. Seeing others posting online about their symptoms and how they’ve coped being anemic has certainly helped to get me through, even during those incredibly hard times.
At least now in my thirties my hair’s thankfully returned (of course not without the occasional panicked check that it’s all still there), my complexions improving greatly and whilst my energy levels may still vary from day to day I’ve learnt to work around it by turning to self employment instead of struggling through in a hectic workplace. It’s still a daily struggle though, some days you just can’t find the energy to cope, but as I’ve developed a regime with my supplements, learnt to live around a heavily iron based diet and gentle exercise to help myself along. One thing they certainly don’t tell you is how hard it’s going to be learning to live with anemia, I just wish I’d have known more sooner and perhaps my twenties wouldn’t have been such a constant struggle with my own body.