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Chelsea Gault (She/Her)

State: Washington

Chronic Conditions: Dysautonomia, Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS)

My chronic illness journey began in my mid-twenties, when I started noticing a decline in my energy, and consistently feeling like I had the flu. After several doctors visits with no answers, I began researching my symptoms online, which eventually led me to a study with Stanford Medicine for Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. After meeting their criteria for ME/CFS, I began to communicate this to my primary doctor and other healthcare professionals. Since my diagnosis, I have had seasons of feeling much improvement, and seasons of feeling quite ill. One of the biggest challenges I face with ME/CFS is grief- grief over loss of ability to live life how I did before my illness. Day to day, I work to balance caring for my health as top priority, while also working full-time in healthcare.

I advocate for others with chronic disease because health is not just personal, it is also systemic. Living with chronic illness can feel isolating, and often, advocating for yourself can lead to feeling misunderstood- by healthcare practitioners, and family and friends. Change within our institutions happens when we share our stories, and garner support in numbers. With millions of Americans living with chronic illness, it’s time that our needs have greater representation. My story and advocacy are in hopes that greater representation, protections and accommodations can be universal, for every American.