Hi, I am Sukhjeen Kaur, I’m 21 and I have a story to share:
My story started in August 2018. I started having pain in my right wrist and thought nothing of it. Put on a wrist splint as it progressed and carried on like nothing happened. September 2018 the pain moved to my hands, both of them losing mobility. So many tears and GP appointments, hearing “you’re too young for arthritis” constantly. I remember one GP appointment consisted me of showing my curled and stiff hands to the GP, saying “My hands can’t move anymore” and crying. I finally got my referral to rheumatology after that. I was lucky to get an urgent referral and seen within 3 weeks. I was later diagnosed with seronegative inflammatory arthritis, October 2018. 4 days before my 20th birthday.
All of this happened during my first year of university. I asked the university if I could go part-time, online or defer the year. I was told by the ‘LOVELY’ lady that she had arthritis in her 3 fingers and is completely fine. I was shocked. I was made to feel really small.
I lost the university experience and my social life once I was diagnosed. I was alone and constantly in pain, with no steroids or painkillers helping me. But this gave me the motivation to start my instagram page @chronicallybrown.
The page was initially created to share my experiences with arthritis and for me to meet others dealing with the same condition. However, as time went on I was getting more and more messages of people telling me how being part of the south asian community with an invisible disability meant they were facing constant stigmas.
Some of the ignorance was led from their families believing there was nothing wrong with them. This told me that disabilities in the south asian community was treated the same way as mental health issues. Their attitude was “If I can’t see it, it isn’t a problem”.
I can’t fix this problem, but I want to help this problem. I am encouraging any south asian with chronic illnesses and mental illnesses to speak up and share your story on my page. I have seen the positive impact sharing these stories has on others in the same situations. YOU can help.