Here are some things about me that, up until recently, were just normal ways of being:
- I love to lay down — in fact, I’m lying down at this very moment
- I cannot be truly comfortable in a chair unless my legs are crossed
- Sometimes, when I’m lying down, I like to roll on my side and just stick my arm up in the air
Apparently these are actually symptoms of something called postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a chronic condition that affects how blood moves through your body. It ranges in severity, with some people just experiencing lightheadedness and a need to be reclined, and others regularly fainting and requiring mobility aids. I had never heard about this disorder until recently, when the TikTok algorithm decided that it was done showing me videos about women diagnosing themselves with autism, and that it was time for me to wonder if I have a different thing.
The POTS hashtag on TikTok has over 900 million views, although admittedly some of those videos are about ceramics or cooking. Google Trends shows that searches for “POTS symptoms” had a huge spike in both April and June of this year. Anecdotally, I’m seeing POTS content all over my For You Page. This can only mean one thing: We have a new hot girl affliction to fixate on.
POTS is joining the ranks of clinical depression, anxiety, IBS, Tourette’s, and other TikTok-famous conditions as the latest ailment that’s making all the chicas ask, “Do I have that?” As is the case with those other ones, some of us most likely do, and we should probably personally consult a licensed medical professional about it. What we should not do is diagnose ourselves via an app where I recently watched a bunch of British guys throw an anvil off a dam and directly onto a parked car.
But saying that and actually believing it are two different things. It’s too late for me; I have already convinced myself that I have POTS because sometimes when I stand up too fast I lose my vision, and more than one doctor has told me I have low blood pressure. Am I going to get it checked out? Probably not, because finding a specialist who can administer a tilt table test (wherein you, as you might have guessed, get tilted on a table while they monitor your heart rate) sounds like a nightmare. Will my insurance cover it? How much work am I going to miss? Will it be worth the co-pay? It’s so much easier to watch videos from people who have been diagnosed and go, “Same, girlie.”