Welcome to our Flowly Feature series, which highlights a hero on their health journey so that we can get inspired, pick up a tip or two, and remember that we are not alone 💙 Today's feature is with Callie from @callie.meese on TikTok.
Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Hi, I'm Callie Meese, and I've been diagnosed with multiple chronic illnesses. I'm 21 years old. I have POTS, hEDS, and MCAS. I've started selling my art because I haven't been stable enough to have a 9-5 job. I've also built a community on TikTok, kind of following my journey, and I'm super thankful for that!
What has your personal health journey been like?
My entire life, I was an athlete. Gymnastics, volleyball, soccer, dance, track, everything you could think of I did. Varsity soccer and volleyball during my four years of high school. I had three hip surgeries between 2019-2021. The second one went horribly. I started experiencing chronic pain. I got diagnosed with hEDS and POTS and, a little later, MCAS. I struggled immensely in the beginning. I was watching my entire life fall apart. I felt so lost and confused. I had no idea what any of those diagnoses meant.
I soon started to learn more and more and decided I wanted to start sharing my story on social media. I started working out and trying new medications. I needed to find the right mix of everything. It took about a year to start feeling better from my cardiac rehab program. My chronic pain was so much better.
It is now July 2023, and my MCAS has been worse than ever. It's confusing because POTS and MCAS can have very similar symptoms. I'm now focusing on getting my MCAS and SIBO under control, and my MCAS is mostly showing up in my GI system. This means eating is very hard when you feel horrible after. Smells have also affected my stomach so much (gasoline, smoke, spray paint, other people's vapes).
It's going to be such a long journey, but I'm very hopeful I can get into an even better place than I am right now. I'm so glad I started sharing my story online, I've met so many amazing people, and I've also helped so many people, and it means so much!
What would you tell the past version of yourself when you first began your health journey?
That it 100% gets better. You won't suffer for the rest of your life, and the pain will end. You are definitely going to have to work your butt off to get where you want to be, and you definitely will have to be aware of your body and health forever. Your life will be different, but you will find so many people that struggle the same as you, and help them as much as you can.
Here at Flowly, we are all about cultivating a flow state. What does a state of flow feel like or look like to you?
I think the state of flow looks like feeling as best as you can. No one with chronic illness feels amazing all the time. But with medicine, tools, exercise, etc., you can put your body in a good place. I think your mindset is also super important as well. You won't get far if your mindset isn't where it should be, and I've definitely witnessed that.
When do you feel the most "in flow" in your life?
I feel like it's very hard to feel "in flow," especially when you are dealing with chronic illness. I definitely think everyone can get there, though. I feel the most "in flow" when I'm working out or painting. Both help my mental state tremendously and my symptoms.
How do you balance taking care of your health on top of everything else in your life?
This is probably the hardest part of my life. I'm an artist, and getting your work out there is already hard enough without being chronically ill. I struggle working when I don't feel good; I could go weeks without doing anything. I'm also always tired, so getting up to do things is very hard. My mom definitely pushes me to keep going. When I do feel good, I end up pushing myself too much and suffer the consequences after. Pain is the worst when it comes to my work. My entire body will hurt after a day of painting. It's definitely hard but also doable when you have the right support system and mindset.
What resources have helped you on your journey?
- Social media has been amazing to me. I've been able to meet so many people who are like me. I've also learned way more on tik tok than I have from doctors. (Flowly note! Please always consult your providers and do your own research.)
- Taylor Goldberg has been working with me for almost a year, and she has gone above and beyond with helping me navigate all of my chronic illnesses. I would recommend everyone set up a consult with her.
- Therapy is also super important to me. I haven't gone since getting sick, but I would love to start seeing someone again. I went throughout my whole life, and I've learned so many coping tools. All the years I spent going have definitely gotten me through a lot of this. It's nice having someone to talk to when you can't process what's going on by yourself.
- I also LOVE Skratch hydration mix! I've tried so many, and that's the only one that's stuck with me.
- Honestly, my mom has done more than I have. She goes through books and podcasts every day to try and help, and she's learned so much.
Shout out a source of love in your life!
My family, especially my mom, and boyfriend. They have done everything for me, and I couldn't do any of this without them.
Where can we follow your journey?
My TikTok is @callie.meese 📲
My Instagram is @calliemeese 📸
You can find my art on Instagram @calliekdesigns
Know a hero you think we should feature? Send us a message at email@example.com! 📩