This is Kaya. She is 19 years old, and has multiple chronic illnesses which cause her to faint over six times a day, every day.
You may recognize Kaya from TikTok, where she documents her fainting spells in various "Day in My Life" vlogs. Her followers have even nicknamed her "Sleeping Beauty."
In one clip that has over 7 million views, she shows just how often her fainting spells occur:
"Mini day in the life of a person who faints over 6 times a day, everyday, for over 3 years now," she says in the clip. "Believe me, I wish I was joking, but this is just my life."
"This is me completely zoning out, which means I'm probably [going to faint] soon."
"And there I go."
"Here was me trying to get downstairs, but I fainted. When I woke up from this spell, I tried to get up from my bedroom floor but fainted again."
"If you're wondering why this happens to me, I still don't have a definitive answer, but basically, I have multiple chronic illnesses that manage to manifest and culminate into me fainting like an absolute maniac."
Kaya has Functional Neurological Disorder (FND), which is when there is an abnormality in how the brain sends and receives signals. She told BuzzFeed that this was diagnosed as the main cause of her fainting spells.
Although FND is a major contributor to her fainting spells, Kaya explained that she has been diagnosed with other illnesses that overlap with and exacerbate her symptoms.
"My health issues started off as stomach issues when I was around 9 years old," she said. "FAPS (Functional Abdominal Pain Syndrome) kicked into high gear at 12 years of age, and I was severely ill for 6 months. The other issues like the fainting started when I was 15. The first time I ever fainted was September 28, 2018, and I haven’t gone a day without fainting since."
"After that day, my disorders started to increase — visual and vestibular issues, dizziness and balance, migraines. It took about a year to figure out a lot of my diagnoses, so I didn’t get a formal diagnosis of the major disorders until I was 16 years old."
Most of Kaya's conditions can be categorized as dysautonomia, which is an umbrella term for conditions that cause a malfunction of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system affects all the non-voluntary functions of your body like heart rate, blood pressure, temperature control, digestion, and more.
In addition to daily fainting spells, Kaya also experiences non-epileptic seizures, heat and cold intolerance, blood pooling, lightheadedness, chronic migraines, visual issues (auras and disturbances), light sensitivity, constant dizziness, brain fog, memory loss, sensory issues, anxiety and depression, nausea and digestive issues, tremors and tics, overall weakness, chronic pain, cramping, paralysis of limbs and joints, movement issues, and chronic fatigue.
Because of the frequency of her fainting spells and other symptoms, Kaya does not drive and has even taken a break from school. And although she does faint regularly, Kaya has fortunately avoided many major injuries.
"Sometimes, I will feel a spell coming on or get a few seconds of warning, but over half are unexpected. I’ve fainted while standing, sitting, or laying down, even in the middle of conversations. Each spell can vary drastically, which makes finding a pattern to them really difficult."
Kaya revealed that receiving treatment for her conditions has been a challenge, because of how little is known about a lot of her illnesses.
"All the pressure to figure out how to balance the information and treatments from multiple providers and manage each day is really on me," she continued. "My Mom and I have had to basically become experts in trying out what the doctors suggest, while also researching and testing out tools, tips, and treatments on our own in hopes of getting some additional relief."
And since many of her conditions affect multiple body systems, there are few medications that can easily alleviate her symptoms.
Despite the difficulties she's experienced with regards to testing and treatment, Kaya does remain hopeful and believes there will be a shift in how chronic diseases are addressed by medical professionals.
"Interestingly enough, I have noticed that people suffering from Long COVID have many symptoms similar to mine," she said. "Perhaps, with a greater population experiencing the same symptoms, some progress will be made in diagnoses and treatment that may benefit me in the near future. I hope so!"
"All I can do is try to do the best I can and try to remain positive and strong. Chronic illness is not for the faint of heart!"