I was a sophomore in college, and a friend told me they were bisexual.
That conversation sparked an epiphany: I wasn’t straight either.
Although I was nervous, I forced myself to go to my school’s LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and asexual) club to meet other members of the community.
I was too scared to try to flirt with another woman face to face, especially in front of a bunch of other people, so I joined a dating site after learning many people in the club used them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been turned down because of my POTS, like when a woman who previously texted me hundreds of times a day decided we should just be friends after I confessed my illness.
I commiserated with other people on the internet who also had chronic illnesses, seeking dating tips.It was affirming in ways I can’t begin to describe.I discovered I was sick around the same time I let myself accept that I wasn’t straight.This time, I was nervous because I hadn’t felt well all day.I felt dizzy, nauseous, and achy, my finger too swollen to put my ring on.After coming out, I was eager to explore my attraction to women but quickly realized that I had no clue how to date, let alone find bisexual and lesbian women.I couldn’t just assume that basically every woman I ran into was queer the way I’d assumed pretty much every guy I wanted to date was straight.Kaylyn knew about my illness, but she hadn’t yet seen it. And if I hadn’t changed my dating standards after realizing I was chronically ill, it could have taken so much longer to find someone like her. Diagnosed when I was 19 after a series of unexplained fainting episodes, I was referred to a cardiologist.I wasn’t sure how she’d react and was scared she’d be like past women I’d dated: awkward, unsympathetic, and, ultimately, gone. On our date, Kaylyn quickly noticed I wasn’t well despite my attempts to hide it. POTS is a disorder that causes my heartbeat to increase 30 beats or more per minute or exceed 120 beats per minute within 10 minutes of standing, causing my blood pressure to drop. Currently there’s no known cure for POTS, but it can be treated.I’d known it deep in my heart for some time, but it was as though my POTS diagnosis had upheaved my life in a way that made me finally ready to accept another major change too.I don’t know which was a bigger adjustment—learning I had POTS or realizing I was bisexual.