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'They can be afraid' - 22-year-old with Lyme disease talks about struggles to find job

PUBLISHED: 14:51 28 October 2019 | UPDATED: 15:14 28 October 2019

Olivia Spring was diagnosed with Lyme disease when she was 11. Picture: Olivia Spring

Olivia Spring was diagnosed with Lyme disease when she was 11. Picture: Olivia Spring

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An aspiring writer who traded New York for Norwich has taken matters into her own hands after struggling to find employment, which she believes is because of misunderstandings regarding her condition.

Olivia Spring had the idea for Sick magazine when she was struggling to find employment in Norwich. Picture: Olivia SpringOlivia Spring had the idea for Sick magazine when she was struggling to find employment in Norwich. Picture: Olivia Spring

Olivia Spring was 11 when she was diagnosed with Lyme disease after nearly two years of "upsetting" misdiagnosis.

For Ms Spring, who has lived with the condition for over 10 years, the symptoms are unpredictable and include intense fatigue, joint pain and dizziness.

She said: "Awareness around Lyme disease is pretty poor and is often not taken seriously and the energy it takes to constantly explain it takes an emotional toil."

The 22-year-old said her school in New York was dismissive towards the condition and she sunk into a dark depression and suffered from anxiety.

Olivia Spring grew up in New York, but after university in London moved to Norwich. Picture: Olivia SpringOlivia Spring grew up in New York, but after university in London moved to Norwich. Picture: Olivia Spring

She added: "The city became unbearable and I was feeling haunted by horrible memories. I didn't want to be around it anymore. I needed to go somewhere far away and start over."

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Aged 16, Ms Spring made a vow to move abroad to escape the unhappy memories and studied journalism at Goldsmiths University in London in 2015.

She moved to a flat near St Benedicts Street in Norwich just over a year ago with her partner, who is from Loddon.

Olivia Spring has launched a magazine called Sick, which commission disabled and chronically ill writers. Picture: Olivia SpringOlivia Spring has launched a magazine called Sick, which commission disabled and chronically ill writers. Picture: Olivia Spring

But while she loves living in the city because it is quiet and walkable, Ms Spring says she still faces discrimination when searching for a job.

"As soon as I mention I have an illness I never hear back - not even a rejection," she said. "People instantly assume I can't do things.

"Employers also don't realise the importance of checking in with you and being open and understanding. They can be afraid, uncomfortable and don't know what to say."

Now Ms Spring is making her own opportunities and launched SICK in September, a self-published magazine which commissions chronically ill and disabled writers.

She added: "I have big dreams for the magazine. My situation is not unique at all, and I want to reach as many people as possible."

To buy SICK magazine click here

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