By Lidia from Donegal, Ireland
I am 16 years old. For me, everything started a few days after I received the HPV vaccine, Gardasil. I woke up one day choking and unable to breathe. I felt like I was going to pass out so my parents took me to a hospital. I was stabilized, kept overnight and sent home, just like that. No tests, no medications, no explanations as to what could have caused the problem. This was only the beginning.
First it was just trouble with breathing, nausea, and feeling faint. Every doctor I saw dismissed me with, “Well, you’re breathing now.”
Then it progressed to choking, hyperventilating, panic attacks and soon enough I was getting panic attacks every day, sometimes as many as four times a day.
Then the depression came. This is going to be hard to talk about, as it still triggers a lot of anxiety and depression in me, but I will try my best to tell as much as I can.
Going to psychologists and psychiatrists didn’t help at all. All they ever told me was to “take a relaxing bath,” “light some nice smelling candles” and “go out with friends”. I tried all those things. I tried every single thing they told me to try and yet none of it worked. Still, they didn’t seem to care about that and kept telling me to try the same things again and again.
Many times I’ve been told to “think about all the people that have it worse than me” and many times people laughed after I expressed my thoughts or feelings about a certain topic.
The psychologists were late to every appointment and talked about everything with a passive attitude as if I was exaggerating and making everything up.
One of the doctors at a hospital told my parents the reason all this was happening to me was because I’m “troubled.” She said it even though I was in the room.
Another doctor stood by my hospital bed as I screamed and cried in pain because of back spasms and watched me for about ten minutes before simply walking away. I didn’t receive any help that time, no painkillers, nothing. I just stayed in my bed until the spasms passed.
A few months later Dad and I went to the same doctor for a check-up. As he flipped casually through my medical file he said “I don’t have any record of pain written down here from that time” and shrugged his shoulders.
Another doctor, a substitute for one of my psychologists, was somehow convinced that my parents were abusing me regardless of the fact that I told him that wasn’t the case every time we met for an appointment.
Every doctor we went to dismissed us and tried to get rid of us.
Overall, I just felt useless, hopeless, and broken. I felt guilty – like all that was happening was my fault somehow. When I didn’t feel like crying my eyes out, I felt completely nothing and sat still, staring off into space.
The amount of times I imagined myself dying is terrifying. I was scared of myself. I was scared that I would lose control and start screaming and breaking everything around me from all the pain, terror and anger. Yes, I was angry – I was really angry! Angry that my feelings were so easily dismissed, as if they were something you can pick up, explore for a little while and toy with a little, before being thrown in the trash.
When it comes to physical symptoms…there were a lot. There still are, they still come back every so often.
There were hallucinations of a girl named Trillion who hit me. There were episodes where my body would switch itself off and I’d be left unable to move, speak, swallow, blink and yet still able to feel and hear everything around me. That could last from ten minutes to eight hours. My legs would become paralyzed, for periods lasting from thirty minutes to four days.
I couldn’t go out at all, unless I wanted to risk an anxiety attack so bad I would have to return home within half an hour of being out of the house. Being around people made me anxious, it still does.
Once I felt so bad, so depressed, and so angry that I cut into my arm with a needle. I regretted doing that instantly. I still get an urge to do it, though it’s faint.
I genuinely had to force myself to want to live. I wanted to disappear. I wanted all of the symptoms to stop.
Now without a doubt, I can say that I am a lot better. I have been taking homeopathy remedies for a few months. They have helped more than all of the anti-depressants I was prescribed for two years.
Perhaps soon I can leave Gardasil and the past behind me. Maybe I can have a normal life after all.