Annika Oudejans-Hall

Hi, my name is Annika and I’m from Ontario, Canada.

When I was 16 years old, I contracted an unknown virus after going to a family Christmas party. It is now four years later, and we’ve come to learn that I live with an illness called Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (M.E.). Like many with M.E., I woke up sick one day and never got better.

After contracting this virus, my health declined significantly. This was, without a doubt, the scariest time in my life. My muscles would shake so badly I couldn’t hold a glass of water, I was extremely fatigued but experienced severe insomnia, I could no longer read or follow conversations, and I had an ever-changing array of debilitating symptoms. My declining health meant I had to take a leave of absence from school. Overnight I became different from my friends and isolated from my peers. It took two years of testing, trialing treatments, and constant doctor’s appointments before I came across an Instagram account that described almost word-for-word what I was experiencing. After learning about M.E. through this account, I did more research and presented it to my doctor. It turns out that after everything, an Instagram account was finally able to put a name to my illness!

I have now been chronically ill for more than four years, and it has been a rollercoaster of an experience. I’ve lost a lot because of my illness, but I have also gained new passions and a sense of purpose. I’ve started university and am currently working on my Bachelor’s degree in Public Health. I hope one day to improve upon policies, programs, and practices that contribute to systemic discrimination of those with disabilities. We desperately need more accessibility and awareness! Because the online chronic illness community has helped me so much, I was motivated to create an Instagram account of my own (@midnightbakewithme) with the goal of helping others navigate their way through chronic illness. I want to give back to this amazing online community. For those new to chronic illness, I hope to be the person I wish I had had to help guide me through this new way of life. No one should have to feel as scared and alone as I did. This is exactly why I was so excited to learn about and the amazing work they’re doing!

It took me a while to be comfortable talking about my illness, but I’m proud of the person it has helped me become. I’m passionate about helping raise awareness for chronic illness.

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