Solidarity Visit to Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action #MyRacistCampus

At the very start of this new year of 2019, I had made a promise with my friend to live our lives without filter – to live life with no fear of consequence as long as it is all for the right reasons.

This promise only strengthened due to their passing last month, and not too long after came something that I resonated with on Twitter: Goldsmiths’ Anti-Racism Occupation.

 

independent angela christofilou

A journalist was also locked in the same day that we were locked out of Deptford Hall || Angela Christofilou

 

Goldsmiths University has been criticized due to the university’s management having taken inadequate action against the racist abuse which was experienced by one of the candidates who ran in their student elections.

It is to no one’s surprise that this candidate falls under the Black, Asian and minority ethnic category since London is well known to be multi-cultural.

The student suffered racist abuse during her election campaign: her election posters  vandalized with racial insults in which they mocked her accent, and her banner physically being removed despite her fellow campaigning peers being left untouched.

To clarify as to why Goldsmiths has been declared as having taken “inadequate action” is due to the fact that they didn’t take any action at all.

Senior management at Goldsmiths have not taken any action since, and have denied access to CCTV footage of this incident. The student union has also been completely silent.

Most people within society believe that we live in a moderately equal world, in which people do not have to visibly campaign and strike against such issues like racism – I should say most white people, actually.

However this is not the case. The reason that I very much resonated with the Goldsmiths’ Anti-Racist Occupation is because of the current movements in our very own university regarding #DecoloniseKeele.

Whether people want to admit it or not, the societal system is biased to benefit white westerners as it is set up by white western men (See the work of Edward Said, or Sara Ahmed for two academics who discuss at length to explain this).

So when W.O.K.E co-founder, Sophia, suggested that W.O.K.E, BAME society, #DecoloniseKeele and Keele Friends of Palestine should do a collaborative visit at Goldsmiths – I rushed at the opportunity.

As fate might have it, Goldsmiths was my friend’s old university before they transferred to Keele for their second year. Maybe it was their way of giving me “go-ahead”? Who knows.

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You could hear the megaphone from a block away, the students were really trying their hardest to make their voices heard

The journey down south to London was incredibly long and tiring, moreover we also broke down as we exited the motorway into Greenwich – making our arrival time even later than we already were.

The whole group was anxious to arrive at Goldsmiths, we knew that the students were facing minor violent actions that the university had taken as a “counter-measure” against their peaceful occupation.

Although yes, the students occupied the hall by making that place their “home” for however long they may need to, the fact that they were locked in on purpose just broke my heart.

I knew this since I regularly check their accounts for their daily updates of their occupation.

After a couple of hours of waiting, we finally made haste towards Goldsmiths only to be told of more barriers that we had to face once we arrived.

The Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Occupation group and management had come to an agreement to allow the students the freedom to walk in and out of the premises without consequences from 09:00-19:00 (9 A.M. till 7 P.M.).

The Occupiers also gave the management notice regarding our visit, allowing the university to know that there will be visitors and more people coming into the building.

The original plan of the day, was this:

  • We arrive at 13:00 (1 P.M.) and have lunch with the Occupiers
  • Discuss with them about their experience so far with their peaceful protest
  • Give them some word of encouragement and food that had been bought for them
  • Leave around the late afternoon and hopefully arrive back at Keele for 19:00 (7 P.M.)
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I tried my best to keep documenting what was happening in a thread. Shameless plug, follow me on Twitter: @fidesadee_

Instead, the building’s security were allegedly “sent an email” from management stating that they had orders from them not to let anyone in or out of the building for the whole weekend.

However this wasn’t taken too kindly by the Occupiers as the building has had multiple people come in and out of the building all weekend, and worst of all: on the day of, during the morning white people were allowed into the building.

Security had stopped letting people in the moment they knew that our group from Keele were in London.

It had been a while since I have experienced blatant discrimination via access due to my skin colour, let alone denied access for just being kind and providing food for the Occupiers.

Of course, the moment our group had arrived – the security had stopped letting people in, in general.

According to those on the inside, they had apparently put up a sign stating: “only Goldsmiths students allowed to enter and must provide student ID card”.

This timing was too suspicious for the university to suddenly change its mind.

It was becoming quite clear that the university did not want anyone to support the Occupation.

Our group wanted to show our support and solidarity via our visit; to exchange words in regards to their experiences and give them some morale.

Instead we were met with denial and ignorance by security.

Deptford Town Hall is also open to all members of the public as standard.

 

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There were more people inside the first set of doors trying to negotiate with security in order to let us in, while the rest of use waited outside || @GoldAntiRacism

 

To add to our luck, the weather decided to play up and it started to rain for a good couple of hours.

We were locked out of the building, the Occupiers desperately trying to sway security from the inside whilst we also tried our hardest from the outside.

So many of us were angry, angry that such a thing that we have only heard of in history books is happening to us now, in the 21st century.

The frustration that we felt was indescribable.

The betrayal a lot of us felt was so painful that no one could really vocalize our disappointment fully.

White people, non-Goldsmiths students, had been allowed in before us that day, with food.

Every excuse we were given as we stood in the rain was a lie.

The security team hid behind their black colleagues, making them stand visibly in our way.

We felt even more betrayed.

How could they? How could they stand there, blocking our way into the building? How could they stand there, knowing that this is something that they can fully relate to?

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This was the tweet that I managed to get the picture from || @GoldAntiRacism

We all knew why they were there, choosing to follow orders.

It was obvious to us that the security guards were likely intimidated into following orders, worried they would face disciplinary consequences or worse.

As frustrating as this was, we all stood strong outside and communicated with the student occupiers via the balcony that you saw in the picture at the beginning of this post.

Something that really shocked me was the imprisonment.

The management ordered the security to lock ALL doors except the main front door, and only had security set in place just in case a fire broke out.

Somehow, the student occupiers had become creative over the past few weeks and had made a bag on a rope that they could drop down from the balcony.

This allowed us to send up some food their way.

It was baffling to me that management were saying we couldn’t even give them food and had to use this method.

We tried reasoning with the security guards stating that, it was fine with us to protest and wait in the rain – but at least give them the food.

They firmly stood their ground citing fake emails directing them to do so.

We were all in such disbelief.

University management and the on site security had decided that the occupiers would only be allowed out if there was a fire.

What is this? Are they [students] criminals?

The whole point of this occupation was for it to be a peaceful, but meaningful way to get their message across.

Four years previously, a mostly white students collective had occupied the same space. Getting drunk, having parties and coming and going from the building with no security in place, no consequences to their actions.

This occupation was designated alcohol free, and has been marked by multiple teach-outs, film screenings and study ins.

 

The space has a designated quiet zone for students who get overwhelmed by too much noise.

It is a highly inclusive peaceful occupation space.

The senior management at Goldsmiths university made it seem like they were violent and therefore had to be imprisoned.

A student had to climb out of a  first floor window to be able to leave

Not only was that unnecessary, but that was also dangerous.

The university clearly does not care for their students’ well-beings.

Goldsmiths university was ready to “punish” the students via starvation.

Goldsmiths university was ready to “punish” the students via imprisonment.

Goldsmiths university was ready to “punish” the students, full stop.

This change in policy for handling students dissenting is nothing to do with the occupation.

Building occupation is something Goldsmiths has a strong history of.

It has everything to do with the races and ethnicities of the occupiers.

They are people of colour and so treated as dangerous.

I’m not sure as to whether the university were prepared for our tenacity, but we really did stand our ground.

The Occupiers sent down some signs for us to show around the passers-by and those who drove past.

Many showed support: those who were walking, they stopped and read our signs and/or talked with us then took a leaflet with them; those who were driving honked their horns in support; some of those who were driving even purposely slowed down traffic just so they could read our signs!

Alas it wasn’t all good people who passed by.

There were some who shouted abuse at us, telling us to get a job or whatever other insult they had in their minds.

So many people in society really do believe that these matters do not concern them – and yes, this includes POCs and black people.

Even empathy is hard to come across nowadays, apparently.

Then They Took Our Names

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Sophia took this picture of me talking with one of the lecturers from Goldsmiths, who came to bring food for the students || Sophia Hayat Taha

For hours we stood outside; despite the rain we stood our ground and kept protesting with the occupiers; we wanted their voices to be heard, and so we used ours.

We shouted alongside other Goldsmiths students who came in support of the occupiers.

For hours we kept trying to reason with the security guards to let us in.

At 18:00 (6 P.M.), security finally came outside, made us all show ID and took our names down on a piece of paper.

They said they were ready to let us in. Or so we thought.

They made us wait for a further hour.

They really took their time.

We demanded to be let in.

When they finally began to let us in, hours after our arrival they once again demanded to see ID.

It was a tactic of intimidation.

Finally, one by one, we were allowed into a normally publicly available building that allows non-students in without demanding to see ID.

A wave of relief rode over all of us.

I stood for a couple of minutes by the main front lobby.

We were so stubborn, standing there for hours shouting that I hadn’t realized that my fingers lost feeling a while ago.

The heat from the inside hit me and slowly started to regaining the feeling of my fingers. I breathed a deep sigh of relief and I just thought to myself: “We did it. We really did it, we made it in.”

The hall was so beautifully designed that I couldn’t help but admire the staircase as I walked up them.

Seeing their main banner on top of the staircase, filled me with a sense of pride.

I was so proud of the occupation group.

They really inspired me to do this, to come and show my support for them.

Outside their door was a quote, which they also had another sign which stated that whoever enters through the main lecture hall – they must read the quote first.

As a reminder as to why this occupation is occurring in the first place.

Black and third world people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity.

Women are expected to educate men.

Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world.

The oppressors maintain their position and evade responsibility for their actions.

There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future.

  • Audre Lorde

This quote is spot on.

I can see why these students are still standing strong.

This quote has managed to refine into a small excerpt, the experiences of the marginalised.

Upon reading this, I felt very emotional. My respect for these students rose even higher than it already was.

Surprisingly, they were all ready with food and accommodating. It was someone’s birthday.

There was home cooked food, birthday cake, hugs between the occupiers and Keele Students. We shared relief, exhaustion, understanding, celebration.

We sang Happy Birthday to the student, the woman who’s experience of racism during an election had been the tipping point for many students to come together and demand change.

Although brief, I had an opportunity to speak amongst the occupation’s students.

The everyday experiences of racism that they shared with us was heartbreaking but familiar.

It’s the start of Easter break, and instead of going home – many of these students have chosen to stay and occupy the building.

Albeit forcibly so, since they’re locked in.

Once again, it struck me as awful that previous occupations led by mostly white students had been allowed to come and go from the building, to have the equivalent of a giant party but that when people of colour stood in occupation, they were subjected to frequent lock-ins. 

We exchanged worries since security had been ordered to lock all of the exits except for the main front door, and this was heavily guarded by at least two security guards.

The students who were peacefully in occupation, a protest tactic used by many before them were being denied basic needs such as food.

Management had also given orders to have the bathroom screwed shut – but luckily the students managed to prevent this from happening.

These occupiers were being treated like animals, rather than humans.

Whether Goldsmiths university wants to admit it or not, they are resorting to violent acts in order to get the students to stop their occupation.

The change is because of who was in occupation.

 

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Sophia sent me this picture at the end of the night, my signs unfortunately stayed in our broken bus – but at least passersby knew we were there for @GoldAntiRacism || Sophia Hayat Taha

 

Taking The Stories Home

A few of us didn’t stay for long, we had to be back in Keele by the end of the night at least – I was one of those people.

My mental health deteriorated by the end of the night.

I was getting so upset and triggered by the whole situation. I suffer from Borderline Personality Disorder, and this basically means that I’m emotionally unstable and extremely empathetic, so much so that I feed people’s energies.

Usually I’d be okay, being able to socialise more and listen to their stories.

However it was too much for me that day.

All I wanted to do was cry.

I was so upset, since I could feel how they all felt.

Although they were all so strong for standing their ground with occupying the building, I could also feel their stress and their pain.

That and being exhausted physically, it just made me so vulnerable.

I knew that if I stayed, I would’ve just been irritable because of my incapability to control my emotions.

I also had other reasons for leaving, but mainly it was because I really couldn’t handle the pain anymore.

You could feel the energy from everyone in that room: the frustration, the pain, the stress.

I was so proud of them for being staying so mentally strong.

It’s beyond upsetting, seeing how they are being treated.

During the journey home on the train, I had so many questions.

How can such a thing happen in this modern era? In 2019? Decades ago, there were rallies for equality.

Something that many of us POC born after these occurrences, never expected to have to carry out ourselves.

Why is it that oppressors would rather sit comfortably in their privilege rather than allowing others to also be comfortable with them?

Why does anyone have to be above another?

Why does a hierarchy have to exist?

Something as basic as equality and having a university acknowledge that a racist incident happened – and then addressed with – was that really such a hard thing to be done?

As of today, the Goldsmiths Anti-Racism Occupation has been on-going for a month.

They recently had a Skype session with students from John Hopkins University who are campaigning against private police on their campus.

These very students are also suffering from racial profiling amongst their BAME community.

There is also a hunger-strike happening at Birmingham university that started a few days ago.

Knowing that more and more universities are standing together in solidarity and supporting each other brings me hope.

Hope that there are people like us out there, who care enough for things to change.

Not just for us, but for the next BAME generation who is yet to come.

The Press is listening, but sadly management still ignores the problem. 

Press Links: Amal Bider, Goldsmiths anti-racism action group, on occupation of Uni building by student activists

Anti-racism protesters occupy Goldsmiths university building

UEA statement of solidarity

The Manifesto From Goldsmiths Anti-Racism Action Group: http://tinyurl.com/GARAmanifesto

 

We hope we can add our own SU’s official statement of solidarity soon, until then we send solidarity from WOKE, BAME Society, Keele Friends of Palestine and Decolonise Keele.

More Photos to Follow

Written by: Fides Dagongdong
Twitter: @fidesadee_
Wordpress blog: @fidesadee
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fidesadee/

Patriarchy Could Have Killed Me: My Journey with Invisible Illness as a Woman and Moving Forward

Today, I was vacuuming my floor and I felt my heart race.

I thought it was back.

And for a moment, I was ill again and trapped in a cycle of anxiety and suffering.

But it wasn’t it.

It was just my heart beating from intensely vacuuming my room. Thankfully, my world did not fall apart this time.

What “it” is, is hard to explain.

In medical terms, I had what is known as atrioventricular nodal reentrant tachycardia which is a type of Supraventricular Tachycardia, a heart disease.

In layman’s terms, the disease meant that I had an extra electrical connection in my heart which caused my heart to go from 80 bpm to 270 bpm without cause or warning.

But no textbook can translate how this disease brought me to a point where I did not want to live anymore.

It killed friendships, relationships, my potential to be funny and intelligent, my goofiness, my happiness and most importantly, my ability to love myself.

My battle with this disease began around the start of secondary school.

I was in Homesense shopping with my mum, brother, and his friend when I stubbed my toe on a decadent chest-of-drawers.

I remember shouting ‘ow’ or something (this was pre-swearing Alisha) and then proceeded to have a nosebleed.

To avoid messing up the floor, I ran outside. Up until this very point, my life was relatively normal.

At the time, I was being badly bullied at school for my ginger hair and the fact that I spent my pocket money on stationery rather than anything that was cool in 2008- nothing really out of the ordinary.

But then something horrific happened.

I felt like I was choking and like I was having what seemed like a heart attack. I had seen many heart attacks on tv soaps and this looked exactly like it.

I sprinted to my mum’s car screaming that I was going to die. I asked my mum to call my nanna to tell her that I love her, and I remember that could not breathe regularly after that.

My mum was in shock. But she knew that I was going through a lot in school so she diagnosed me right then and there, she said “you are having a panic attack”.

This is did not reassure me as during the whole journey home I felt like I was seeing the world for the very last time.

Around 6 hours later, the feeling went away.

I was exhausted, but I was back.

I thought it must have been just a bad panic attack.

I told the doctor about my “panic attack” and he told me to smile and love my life because I had everything to be happy about.

He told me to relax and maybe go to therapy if things continued- and they did continue.

I soon fell into a state of depression.

I recall being in class not listening to a word and thinking about my death and how the students would pretend they liked me and cry and write on a giant card with my freckled face on it. And the “panic attack” came back again.

I was sent to the medical room but someone was in there with a badly grazed knee so I was told to “sit down and shut up” by the secretary.

I cried and cried, but they treated me like I was crazy and lying to miss the class.

Weeks passed consisting of the same things.

Before I knew it, it was time to study for my GCSEs.

As no one believed that my heart was not right, I believed that I was in fact, crazy.

It was clear that I was not going to do well in these exams.

No surprise, I did not do well in the exams. I received a few A*s but nothing compared to what I was capable of doing.

My school were disappointed, my parents didn’t know any different, but most importantly, I was heartbroken.

My A levels followed and the attacks continued.

I remember being in English class when my teacher was talking about the coursework paper, and my heart kicked in so I ran out of class.

After hours on the medical bed, my teacher greeted me and laughed, “oh Alisha, you don’t have to worry so much about this paper.” “I wasn’t, sir”, I thought.

Then University planning came along. I wasn’t considered one of the bright kids anymore so I was excluded from my school’s elite group.

And yes, that is what it was actually called. The horror.

So, I was left to sort myself out with no knowledge of universities or what on earth I wanted to do. I chose English.

I was told not to choose a Russell Group university because of my mental health, so I looked elsewhere.

My dad told me about Keele because he saw it mentioned on University Challenge sometime ago. As it seemed to have lots of trees and squirrels, I went for it and applied.

Not long after, Keele saved me with an unconditional offer.

They wanted me when I didn’t think anyone did, and so, I accepted Keele unconditionally.

But this did not stop me from trying to do well in my exams. I had something to prove to my school and bullies so I sat exams with my heart racing and fought every bit of pain away.

So much so that I was one of three highest achievers in my sixth form.

I was not the loser I thought I was, and the school suddenly loved me for one blissful morning.

I left for Keele in 2015, still having “panic attacks” and therapy.

I was terrified to live away from home. I had an attack soon enough and called for help.

I was taken to A&E and sat there for 7 hours with people looking after me that I had only just met.

By the time they checked my heart, the feeling had gone. I was given Valium and sent home, delirious and exhausted.

Then I had more, and more, and more attacks. More Valium, more therapy, more “it’s all in your head”, more “uni is not for you, quit”, more inconsistent grades, and more suicidal thoughts.

I took up German again.

I messed up my German GCSE a few years back because I had an attack in the exam, so I promised myself that I would learn it in university.

I worked as hard as I could, and I was accepted onto a German summer school programme- my absolute dream.

I travelled there and had an attack on the plane, and went onto have attacks every 10 minutes that I was in Germany.

I needed to leave, but I had no one to rescue me out of the situation. As my boyfriend so happened to be in Poland at the time, I decided to travel alone from Hamburg to Warsaw on a 10 hour train with basic German language skills and knowledge of the Polish swear words.

I had attack, after attack, after attack.

The carriages had no plug sockets so I was phone-less on a train in the middle of rural Poland having these attacks.

But I survived and arrived in safe hands.

When I arrived back in Wales, I asked my doctor about the weakness I was having on one side of my body and stroke-like symptoms I was feeling.

I went for a CT scan and all was clear- I had hemiplegic migraines. Terrifying things, but safe nonetheless.

Despite all of this going on in the Summer, I made it to third year.

I remember walking back from a seminar and my hands stopped working properly. I thought: stroke.

I called security, asked for an ambulance and was taken to A&E.

I waited for 2 hours. Once they said my name, I got up and my “panic attack” began.

I reassured the shocked nurses that I was having a panic attack.

However, they could not do a reading of my heart as it was too fast. One of the nurses shouted “get her to resus” and my life was like a horror movie for the next 8 hours.

In resuscitation, my heart was at 268 bpm. Unsafe, and at risk of going into cardiac arrest. I was terrified.

Nothing non-invasive worked so they had to administer a drug called Adenosine which would reset my heart’s rhythm.

The sensation of the drug was horrendous. I felt like I was dying. My heart slowed down, my vision was vignetted, my breathing stopped, and the blood around my body flushed.

Questions filled my head. How was I going to survive this? How will my boyfriend cope if I die? Will anyone care? My parents will be heartbroken etc.

After 8 hours, my heart was back to normal.

The doctors told me that I was not crazy, but that I had a type of heart disease.

After years of being laughed at, accused of lying and believing that I was imagining the symptoms.

It was not in my head after all, it was in my heart.

As soon as I returned to uni, I told everyone I knew that I was ill, mainly because I thought I could die.

People were lovely with me, but I felt so outside of everything.

I could not chat to people about new films or gossip and pretend like I was one of them.

I was not human anymore.

I saw the precariousness of my life and knew that the attack could re-occur at any moment.

I began to eradicate anything that caused an attack:

 

  • Chocolate caused an attack
  • Laughing caused an attack
  • Crying caused an attack
  • Exercise caused an attack
  • Drinking fizzy drinks caused an attack
  • Drinking juice caused an attack
  • Getting my hair done in a salon caused an attack
  • Eating meals caused an attack
  • Speaking in class caused an attack
  • Reading books caused an attack
  • Leaving the house caused an attack…

My life soon became no life at all.

The medication was torture and slowed my heart down so much so that I could not sit up in bed.

After a few weeks, I said yes to the operation to fix the condition, and I had no choice but to go for it.

At the time, I was dangerously underweight and suicidal- if I wanted to have a chance at life, I had to get the operation done.

In October 2018, I prepped for the operation.

I had just started my MA English course weeks before, and then soon enough I was in hospital signing a paper that included ‘in the event of your death’.

This was, of course, not ideal.

In my mind, I had two options: end my life or start my life.

And thankfully, my mind wanted to choose the latter.

I went into theatre and had the operation (awake btw as that’s the only way to trigger the attack), and they burned a tiny tiny tiny piece of my heart that was ruining my life.

I felt them burning me even though I was so drugged up that I was seeing Persian carpet patterns on the cardiologist’s face.

I remember smiling and reflecting on my life and saying to the cardiologist: “you’ve found it haven’t you?”.

The two hours flew by and I left the theatre. I was told that from what they can tell, it was a success.

I did it.

Post-op, I went straight back into lessons as I wanted to finally live my life and work on improving myself now that I had the chance.

I danced to all the Kylie Minogue hits that I never got to dance to over all those years.

I went to Sophia’s talk on her MA dissertation (something I would have never done as I was always too scared that people would see me have an attack).

I went on the Waltzers fairground ride with my friends and loved every second of it.

I ate chocolate and ordered tonnes of food. I got my attitude back, and argued with Tories online.

I WAS REVIVED!

But the high began to wear away.

The operation fixed my heart, but not my mind – and it certainly did not erase nearly 10 years of trauma.

I was having flashbacks of the operation, my time in resuscitation, the times people shouted at me and told me I was being dramatic etc.

I had and have ptsd.

Even today, I am obsessed with my pulse, my bodily sensations, and my health in general.

I am yet to remove the pill packet out of my phone case. The doctors may have killed the disease but its ghost – if you will –  lives on in my body.

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But amazingly, things have changed for the better whether I see it some days or not.

I am not void of hope like I used to be. I know that I am fierce and powerful when I need to be.

I know that I may have a real-life fairytale story to tell one day and I cannot wait to live through the very much overdue good bits.

After some research into the disease, I found out that my misdiagnosis was not uncommon.

In a medical journal article on ‘Supraventricular Tachycardia and the Struggle to be Believed’ by Kathryn A. Wood et al., they wrote that:

Researchers have noted that the symptoms commonly reported by patients with SVT mimic other conditions and are often mistaken for anxiety attacks or panic disorders, especially in women. (Wood et al. 2007: 294)

I want to pay particular attention to the fact that WOMEN are most commonly misdiagnosed.

The article goes on to examine real accounts of SVT in women and their experiences with not being believed.

From their observations and interviews with SVT sufferers, they firstly address that: ‘[b]eing disbelieved was interpreted by patients as being seen as untrustworthy, mentally unstable, invisible, or a hypochondriac.

Disbelief also discounted or minimized the significance of the patients’ symptoms and illness’ (300-301) – this, of course, echoes my experience.

I was told that I needed cognitive behavioural therapy as opposed to a heart scan, and the quotations from other female SVT sufferers revealed similar experiences.

Females in the study described their experiences, I quote them in full:

“I just felt like none of the doctors believed me. I think they thought I was making it up because they can’t see it or get it on an EKG. They gave me Valium or Xanax and sent me home.” (301)

“[The Doctor] told me that I was just too stressed out, and that I should stop working and concentrate on being a good wife and mother. Then he gave me a prescription for Ativan to help me relax. I did everything he said and still had that fast heartbeat.” (301)

“They did all sorts of tests … but found nothing. I think they thought I was making it up. I thought about it a lot. Was I really crazy? Was this all in my head? Was I just thinking I had a fast heart rhythm?” (304)

“I think my friends, especially my husband, may have thought that this was all in my head. My husband told me later that he had wondered if I was losing my mind, since the doctors could never find anything wrong.” (304)

I was astounded by these findings.

Oddly enough, not long after I discovered this article, my mother started to present SVT-like symptoms.

Due to this article, I did not take any chances and called an ambulance.

Turns out that my mother has been suffering with supraventricular tachycardia as well as myself, and her case has only been taken seriously because I knew what to look for and what to say to the doctors.

My worry is, what about the women who are in similar positions like this – not just specifically with heart disease – but with illnesses and diseases that are still not being taken seriously by doctors?

I am yet to know the answer to that, but what I can say is this:

If you feel unwell and are suffering:

  1. Do not settle with one doctor’s opinion.
  2. Keep an in depth diary of your symptoms to present to your GP.
  3. If you do suspect that you have a particular condition, bring it up in conversation with your GP.
  4. Ask someone who is aware of your symptoms and how much you are suffering, to come into your appointment with you. Sadly I was taken more seriously when I brought others with me to back me up.

Of course, I am not alone in this experience as a woman.

I believe that our stories can make great changes and help so many other women, so please, let’s get a conversation going about misdiagnosis and sexism in health care.

References

Wood, K. A., Wiener, C. L., & Kayser-Jones, J. (2007). ‘Supraventricular tachycardia and the struggle to be believed.’ European journal of cardiovascular nursing : journal of the Working Group on Cardiovascular Nursing of the European Society of Cardiology, 6(4), 293-302.

Suggested Reading on Women and misdiagnosis/underdiagnosis in healthcare

Gender Stereotypes in Pain Diagnosis: https://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/sites/journalofethics.ama-assn.org/files/2018-06/ccas2-0807.pdf

Women and Pain Disparities in Experience and Treatment:

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/women-and-pain-disparities-in-experience-and-treatment-2017100912562

The Gender Gap in Pain:

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/opinion/sunday/women-and-the-treatment-of-pain.html