Imagine you’re 11 years old. You’re home sick from school for two days due to a cold that is topped with extreme dizziness, lightheaded, and fatigue. The cold eventually goes away, but the other symptoms don’t. Your head feels like a balloon filled with helium. Your muscles feel so weak that you struggle just to open the refrigerator door. The dizziness is so bad that you can’t even walk to the bathroom by yourself. Instead, you have to hold onto your mom as the two of you slowly make your way down the hall because you can hardly balance on your own. Two days of missed school turns into a week. A week turns into two weeks. Your friends are asking you what’s wrong and you wish you had an answer for them. Your sibling accuses you of faking everything since no one can find an explanation for your symptoms. You’ve seen your family doctor several times for it but he can’t figure out what’s wrong with you.

Starting in sixth grade, this is how I lived my life. I would go through phases of these symptoms and no one could figure out why. One day I would feel normal, the next day I would feel like I was dying. The only solution my doctor offered was to drink more water, for perhaps I was only dehydrated. But my mom is a smart woman, she knew there was much more to it than that. The next year and a half was spent visiting doctors and specialists from all over the state. None of them could figure what was causing my symptoms. My mom eventually gave up on doctors and proceeded to spend hours a day researching my symptoms in attempt to find answers. Her research went on for sixth months. My mom cried tears of relief when she read an article about Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). She knew that this was what I was suffering from. My mom then proceeded to schedule an appointment a specialist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. We had to drive over four hours to get there but the visit was worth it. Sure enough, my mom was right. After multiple tests at Mayo Clinic, I was officially diagnosed with POTS, a type of dysautonomia or malfunction of the autonomic nervous system.

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POTS is known as an “invisible illness” because while you look fine on the outside, you feel miserable on the inside. I used to feel hurt when people would make comments such as, “well you don’t look sick” and “oh well I’m tired a lot so maybe I have POTS too!I later realized that instead of getting offended right away, a better option would be to simply explain my condition and get over it. It wasn’t worth dwelling over. Many people didn’t understand what I was going through, but that was okay. There were always going to be people who believed I was faking it simply because they could not physically see anything wrong with me. Instead of whining about it, I had to learn to let it go. But on today’s college campuses, liberal “social justice warriors” are teaching students to dwell over so-called microaggressions. Universities have become breeding grounds for hypersensitive people. Students are choosing to run and hide from anything that may make them uncomfortable. There have been attempts to ban political speech, religious speech, and even political messages written with sidewalk chalk. I wish more students would choose to challenge their beliefs, think critically, and simply tolerate the political views of others. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, even if you don’t agree with it. I don’t see a problem with speaking out against things you disagree with if you do so in a peaceful manner. In fact, I am personally very open about my political beliefs.  I hope that those reading this are not afraid to speak their mind either. However, it becomes a problem when you take your “activism” so far that you attempt to ban certain speakers from campus, tear down political displays you disagree with, vandalize buildings by spray painting political hashtags on them, ban a yoga class for “cultural appropriation,” or harass someone over a hairstyle because you think it is politically incorrect. In case you’re wondering, yes, all of those things have happened.

I continued to live with POTS throughout high school. I took medications for it but they did very little to relieve the symptoms. Over the years with POTS, I had developed a severe victim-mentality. For far too long, I was constantly asking myself, “why me?” rather than, “what can I do to try to improve my condition?” I had completely given up trying. At times, I would be so out of it due to the brain fog that I couldn’t even hold a conversation. Talking was exhausting. Due to the exhaustion and embarrassment of not being able to hold a conservation, I gave up even trying to converse with others at school. My shyness was caused by a lack of effort and I actually lost friends because of it. But I know that I am to blame for this. All I did was sit around and feel sorry for myself. Who would want to be friends with someone like that? Unfortunately, there are way too many people in society who possess the same attitude that I once did. I was victimizing myself just like Democrats are trying to victimize women by falsely portraying them as victims of “patriarchy.” Democratic policies are demeaning to women as they send the message that women are incapable of achieving success without government intervention. This teaches women to possess the same victim mindset that I once had. After experiencing it first hand, I can guarantee that a woe-is-me attitude won’t get you anywhere in life. Today, society is flooded with pessimists who believe they are victims of everything. So many people are focusing on the negative aspects of their lives while searching for ways to claim to be oppressed. The right thing to do is focus on how you can help yourself as well as reflect on everything you have to be thankful for.

When I was seventeen, I passed out at church and my pastor came to pray for me. Passing out is not uncommon among those with POTS. Normally, after passing out, I would suffer from hot flashes, severe dizziness, lightheaded, and blurry vision for at least a couple hours. But this time was different. The moment my pastor said, “Amen,” I instantly felt fine. I even felt much better than normal. That moment strengthened my faith and in turn taught me to value religious liberty. To this day, there are countries where people do not have the freedom to practice their religious beliefs. Religious freedom is a vital part of our nation. Unfortunately, Democrats want to force people to violate their religious beliefs in the name of “tolerance” by making people contribute to religious ceremonies that they don’t agree with. It’s one thing to deny service to a customer due to their race, religion, or gender. It’s another thing to deny service to a customer when offering that service would violate your deeply held religious beliefs. If Democrats want our society to be more tolerant and accepting, they can start by tolerating the religious views of others and their right to exercise religious practices.

Towards the end of my junior year of high school, I was finally hit with reality. I realized that if I wanted to get better, I had to do something about it. I started attending physical therapy, lifting weights in the morning to get my blood pumping, jogging, drinking several liters of water each day, and eating the disgustingly high amount of salt that POTS experts recommend. Months later, I would start to decrease some of the medications I was taking as my symptoms improved. By the time I was 18, I had grown out of my illness. I wish it had not taken me so long to realize that if you want things to change, you have to be willing to put in the effort to make the change yourself. Our current welfare system is keeping people from recognizing this. When able-minded, able-bodied adults are not required to work to receive welfare benefits, they are being rewarded for not working. This system, implemented by Democrats, encourages government dependence while rewarding laziness. On the other hand, the Republican Party values hard work, personal responsibility, and freedom. This is one of the many reasons why I vote Republican. As Senator Marco Rubio put it, “there is nothing moral about trapping people in poverty.”

Today, I no longer have to take any medication for POTS. Nor do I have to constantly be eating salty food. It has been years since I’ve spent a day experiencing symptoms of POTS.  I can’t remember the last time I felt “POTS-ish.” I take comfort in knowing that my medical records from back when I had POTS are now being used for research. My experience with POTS taught me to tolerate others opinions, no matter how strongly I disagreed with them. It also taught me to work hard and not fall for modern-day feminists when they try to tell me that being a woman makes me oppressed. My battle with POTS taught me to value religious liberty and personal freedom. It taught me not to take anything for granted and to be thankful for what I have. It shaped me into a conservative, and for that, I am grateful.