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Health campaigner reveals trolls accused her of being paid actress after battling Covid twice

Anouska was already coping with the crippling effects of endometriosis when Covid struck for the first time in September 2020
Covid survivor Anouska Black this week

Covid survivor Anouska Black this week

Roisin Gorman

A women's health campaigner has revealed she was viciously trolled online after battling Covid twice.

Anouska Black was accused of playing up her symptoms and even being paid to pretend she was sick.

Trolls also used her illness to cast doubt on the effectiveness of the vaccine programme.

But the 32-year-old says after years of sharing deeply personal details in a campaign to highlight endometriosis, the comments didn't bother her.

"I have spoken out about so much that nothing would faze me," says Anouska.

"This was just another level of crazy because it was about Covid and there is so much of a divide."

She's now been diagnosed with two long-term conditions of the virus.

Anouska Black

Anouska Black

Anouska was already coping with the crippling effects of endometriosis when Covid struck for the first time in September 2020.

An asthma attack came out of the blue and she was admitted to hospital when her lung almost collapsed.

After five days on oxygen on a respiratory ward, the young mum was sent home but readmitted a few weeks later when she discovered she had Covid, with symptoms including fatigue, vomiting, and migraines.

"I still wasn't feeling any better when I went back in and that's when I tested positive, and I was back on the respiratory ward again."

She spent another five days in hospital and the experience left her with breathing difficulties.

Anouska, from Magheralin, then got both her Covid vaccinations in February and May 2021.

It meant that when she caught the virus again, in October 2021, the symptoms were much less severe and didn't require hospitalisation, although she developed a rash on her face and body.

And when she shared the news about her second dose of the virus it brought the trolls out.

"I got comments like 'she got Covid even though she's been vaccinated'.

"I was accused of being a paid actress - I wish I was being paid for this. I was told you can't get Covid twice.

"They said I didn't look very sick, even though I shared pictures of myself when I looked like death."

Anouska is still living with the effects of the condition and has since developed allergies she'd never had before.

She has also been diagnosed with long Covid and post-Covid anxiety.

"I have so many allergies now because my lungs are so weak. I'm allergic to house dust, horses, dogs, cats."

The campaigner has experienced trolling before with cruel comments about her weight fluctuations, caused by endometriosis.

She's struggled for years with the condition, dubbed the benign cancer because womb-like cells cause pain when they spread and grow around the body.

Anouska, who had son Bailey at 18, has become an advocate for women's health since the illness was first detected when she had an emergency operation to remove a tissue mass from around her ovary. Since then she's had three surgeries as the endometriosis spread to her bowel, bladder and abdomen, and will have further investigations to determine if it's in her chest cavity.

The condition causes excruciating pain and can't be cured. If surgery doesn't remove all of the cells, hormone therapy and pain medication are the only options.

It can also cause dramatic weight gain and bloating.

"I have been in medical menopause twice to shut my ovaries down, which did help initially but then the menopause symptoms were horrendous," she says.

"I can go from looking eight months pregnant to looking five dress sizes smaller. I have more stretch marks now than when I was pregnant because my weight goes up and down so much.

"I've had comments about my weight so the Covid stuff didn't bother me."

Anouska has become part of campaign group EndoVisible and decided to become a pageant queen, winning Royal International Ms UK.

She also sought palliative treatment with fertility guru Ruth Ellen Logan and has since become an ambassador for Logan Wellbeing.

"The pageant route was a happy accident. After the third surgery I was bedbound and scrolling through Facebook and saw an ad for the Face of Northern Ireland. It gives you purpose, and something to look forward to. It's got me all over the UK and hopefully to Orlando in 2022.

"Ruth Ellen would never have known about me if I hadn't been in the papers and I wouldn't have been in the papers if it wasn't for the pageant.

"I've gone for vitamin and mineral treatments with her and Mayan massage to try and break up my scar tissue and to relax and realign my body."

Anouska, who's now studying with the Open University, is determined to continue using her platform to help other women, even if it brings unwelcome attention too.

"This illness affects 200 million women, and there is no research when you go looking for it.

"My illness is invisible but I'm not," she says.

roisin.gorman@ sundayworld.com


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