Getting a chronic illness diagnosed is an uphill battle for anyone. But women with chronic illnesses in particular face doctors who take their pain less seriously, stereotypes that they're "hysterical," and illnesses that are under-researched and poorly understood. In order to get a diagnosis, women often have to visit multiple practitioners and do lots of detective work on their own.
Women disproportionately suffer from chronic health issues due to a number of societal inequalities, Maya Dusenbery, author of Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick, tells Bustle. "The main reason that women tend to be sicker than men is that medicine hasn't appreciated that there are often important sex/gender differences in health and disease and hasn't taken women's illness as seriously as men's," she says. This lack of attention to women's health issues means that women often have to be their own advocates.
Here are some stories from women with chronic illnesses about their searches for a diagnosis. Even in a world where women are set back in so many ways, healthcare being one of the most egregious, these anecdotes paint a hopeful picture of women persevering and taking matters into their own hands in order to care for their health. Perhaps they'll provide you with hope or even some clues if you're struggling to get to the bottom of your own illness.