Thanks for your response, jerrygallow. I'm glad there are people who are able to relate to my experience struggling with cognitive problems. At the same time, I hate that there are people who can relate because it's an awful thing to go through, especially for those of us who took above-average intellectual capacities for granted before the onset of the issues. I'm not saying I was a genius by any stretch, but I was a fast learner, cognitively adaptable, and most things in life came easily enough to me. I remember not even being able to wrap my head around why people in my classes, both before and while in my first few years of college would struggle to just understand concepts we were learning because everything just clicked for me. Now I'm on the opposite side of that fence, and it's rough to say the least. The cognitive issues began around my second year in college and didn't reach their worst until I was nearing graduation. Once they did begin, I was still smart enough to find ways to work around them to the best of my ability, so it's been difficult to get people to even believe me when I say I'm struggling because from the outside, I seem to function normally enough most of the time. I'm not sure if that even makes sense.
I can relate to being in situations where you feel like people must be thinking, "How on earth did she even GET here?!" It sucks to feel like a fraud. Since the issues didn't reach their worst until after I had almost finished college and had already successfully held a few job positions, people look at my track record, grades, recommendations, etc. and think that I'm obviously a competent and hard worker. That's how I still manage to get involved in things that it takes brains to get into, such as that job I mentioned that I had to quit. Then when I get there, I don't live up to the expectations people have for me, and it's a frustrating situation for everyone. Similarly to how you thought, "Maybe I can still practice law," I had the thought that maybe I could return to school, finish up my pre-med prerequisites and still practice medicine a few months ago. I applied to several schools and got into all of them because on paper, my 3.95 college GPA says I'm a great student. Too bad those schools have no clue what they're dealing with now. I'm starting up at one of those schools in January, and hopefully I'll be able to make it work, but let's be real -- if I struggled in a job writing websites, how on earth am I going to find and maintain a new job, juggle work, classes, and extracurriculars, and eventually make it as a medical student? We'll see how things go, though.
My social life definitely struggles because of my issues as well. It's basically nonexistent. I've lost too many friends because they were tired of me forgetting to respond to their messages and calls or canceling plans because I didn't feel well. I keep thinking that if I get a diagnosis so I can tell people WHY I do these things and that I really don't mean to be a crappy friend, maybe they'll be more understanding, but maybe that's just wishful thinking on my part. At the very least, it would allow ME to know why I do those things so that I'd be less hard on myself. Right now, I just feel like a failure who can't manage to get anything right and like it's my own fault since doctors keep telling me I'm inventing these symptoms in my head.
I understand your frustration with people who just have minor symptoms like a little fatigue or a headache here and there trying to get the benefits of an MS diagnosis without actually having to go through the he** that the condition (or similar conditions) bring. My little sister is sort of like that in her own way. She has a really easy life and always wants people to feel sorry for her for little things, and it's frustrating because she has NO clue what it's like to truly suffer. Sometimes I feel like that about myself. I'll have a good few days and think, "Wow, you're really pathetic. There's nothing really even wrong with you, and you get so hysterical over your situation all of the time." Then the symptoms flare up again, and I'm reminded that things really are BAD when they're bad. But yeah, I understand. It's just frustrating to be lumped in with the hysterics, the hypochondriacs, the fakers, and the attention seekers because I know that I'm not one of them. I don't claim MS or any other disease I haven't been diagnosed with. I've had people TELL me I have Lyme disease before, and I think they're insane. Unless someone is a physician, he or she is not qualified to diagnose themselves or me with anything. The only thing I claim is to have a real problem that I'd really like diagnosed to make it just a little bit easier to cope with. Whether that diagnosis is MS, lupus, RA, NF, malabsorption issues, a bacterial infection, whatever....I just want to know the truth. I'm certainly not set on an MS diagnosis. If it's not MS, it's not MS.