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Casey Doherty (She/Her)

State: Washington D.C.

Chronic Conditions: Long COVID, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Anxiety, Depression, Tick-borne autoimmune diseases

I became disabled by my chronic illnesses right before I turned 20. I was a sophomore in college, and it was so difficult trying to balance everything while not having any idea why I was in so much pain and so fatigued. I knew something was wrong, but I kept being told that it was stress, or my mental health, or related to my menstrual cycle. It took years to begin to learn what was wrong. When I had started to find my baseline, Long COVID made everything much worse. I am now mostly housebound and need to rest much of the day. I use any energy I have to practice disability justice activism and am a graduate student in a Disability Studies program. The most important aspects of my chronic illness journey have been learning pacing, participating in activism, and finding community.

I advocate for many reasons: to find community in other activists, to teach others about methods like pacing, to share important lessons I have learned from those who have come before me, and above all, to create a safer and more just world for all chronically ill and disabled people. Advocates from the ME, Long COVID, Lyme Disease, and mental health communities have helped me so much. I want to pay it forward. I particularly want people to feel less alone. Chronic illness can be incredibly isolating, scary, and anger-inducing. This is made more critical due to the lack of social and governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has left many chronically ill and disabled people without safe access to the world. I advocate so I can fight medical gaslighting, inequitable access to services, expensive copays and other fees, societal stigma, and government inaction on the pandemic and other issues.