4 Years Ago

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I cannot believe I graduated high school 4 years ago.  Wow.  Feels like lifetimes ago & yet just yesterday in so many ways. Looking back on pictures always fills me with an almost-suffocating sense of nostalgia and…well…emotion, I guess. Not happiness or even sadness, per se, but an overwhelming feeling that I cannot quite seem to name.  Looking at this picture, I am taken right back to that day– I experience the memories with all of my senses– & I am left feeling hollow yet full to the brim, tears streaming down my cheeks & smiling all at the same time…

No Wonder I’m Exhausted

After a difficult semester full of medical twists and turns, I am needing to request a retroactive withdrawal. To begin the process, I had to submit a statement detailing the reasons why I was needing to withdraw.

I found myself struggling for words and anxious about the withdrawal process, so my mom kindly got on the phone and tried to help me figure out how to phrase the letter.

After rattling off a long list of symptoms, procedures, and medical vicissitudes, she finished with:

“This is something I’ve been dealing with for the past 5+ years…”

Wow, she’s right: 5+ years of this crazy, inconsistent life.

5+ years of waking up to fight fatigue, widespread pain, nausea, dizziness, tachycardia, low blood pressure, vertigo, migraines, dystonia, syncope, anaphylaxis, chronic infections, subluxations, dislocations, cognitive impairment, tachycardia…

5+ years of taking more medications than most 80 years olds. Drugs to treat symptoms and disease processes and then even more drugs to treat side effects of those drugs.

5+ years of needle sticks, blown IVs, invasive therapies, painful procedures; “eating” through a tube in my intestines; relying on a wheelchair (though using it less than I should due to fear of judgement); stabbing myself with EpiPens, grabbing at my throat gasping for breath; faking smiles, forcing laughs and constantly hiding behind an “it’s all good”; trying, and usually failing, to balance health, family and school, struggling not to define my existence by my disabilities…

No wonder I’m exhausted.

10 Words That Describe Me…

This week, an assignment in my Interpersonal Communication class asked us to make a list of ten words or phrases that describe who we are.  These ten were the first to come to mind, and perhaps I will expound upon them at a later date.

  • People Pleaser
  • Nervous
  • Compassionate
  • Tired
  • Tenacious
  • Socially Awkward
  • Thankful
  • Reflective
  • Fake It Til You Make It
  • In Progress…

“You’re So Brave!”

There are many instances of my life that haunt me. Rhetoric that plays over and over in my head like some sick tape I cannot escape. Actions that color my dreams, jolting me from nightly slumber. However nothing makes me quite as sick as the innocent words of my then 13-year-old sister, remarking on my self-harm:

“…I tried [to cut myself] but I couldn’t do it.  I wanted to but it hurt too much.  You’re so brave!”

Hearing those words took my breath away.  I was 14 when I started- not much older than she.  It was my heavy, shameful, long sleeves in July secret for 3 miserable years.

Cutting was not brave, and that self-destructive path was certainly not what I wished to model for my little sisters. It’s been more than 4 years since she uttered those words, and while they still shake me to my core, they also push me to keep fighting, to not give in to temptation, and to show her what bravery truly is.

BIO 181 Reflection

I finally was able to take my BIO 181 final exam today! I feel like I did pretty well, but either way, today was a good day. Dr. Kosal gave me a hug & asked how I was doing…not in that passive, fill-in-the-silence type way most people do…but like she truly cared & wanted to know. It’s funny how such seemingly small acts can make such a huge impact, huh? The past month or two has been beyond crazy, but BIO 181 has been nothing short of a blessing. I usually do not share the ins-and-outs of my struggles with chronic illness, & I NEVER tell people about my family problems…but life happens, & this summer session forced me to open up to Dr. Kosal about both. And I’m honestly glad I did. She has been a huge encouragement to me, & I love & appreciate her so much.. 🙂

1 Year

It’s been 1 year since I got kicked out of my parents’ house.  This year has been a wild roller coaster of ups and downs (more downs than ups, if we’re being honest here)…but I have grown so much.  Getting kicked out was hard…and being guilt-tripped and begged to come back was even harder…but I made it.  I didn’t give in and didn’t turn back.  And now my relationship with my parents is better than it has been in years.  Things were really rough for a while, but we’re all 1 year stronger.  Who would have guessed?