Two years ago today, I got sick – but today is a celebration. Let me explain why.
At first, I just wanted to figure out what was wrong with me. Then, I just wanted to get better. A lot of days I just want to be off meds and be “normal.” I also wanted to be able to do what I wanted, whenever I wanted. So many questions have gone through my mind in the last two years:
“When will I get better?”
“Why did God choose me to get sick?”
“Why can’t the doctors make me better?”
“Why do we keep changing medicine if I’m doing good?”
“Why don’t people believe me?”
“Why do I get dirty looks when I’m in a wheelchair?”
“Why can’t they understand that it’s an invisible disease?”
“How long am I going to deal with this symptom?”
“Why do people makes jokes?”
“Is that ringing noise in my head this time?”
“Are those lights actually flickering?”
“Am I about to have a seizure?”
“What is happening?”
“Should I say something if I feel bad? I don’t want to make a big scene.”
I have honestly tried to block out most of the memories because they are too painful. There were so many days that I could barely function and I thought I was going to die. Many of you probably remember that I was homeschooled for a little while because things got so bad. I went from modeling to mottling.
I could feel sorry for myself and allow myself to get worse, or I could see the positive in my situation and move forward, which is what I choose to do. It sounds like a motivational speech, but there really are a lot of really positive things that have happened in the last two years because of being sick.
First, I learned who my true friends were. Yeah, it was hard to lose people in my life. But, I learned that the ones worth having are there for me when I’m too sick for school, will always call to check on me, will lay in bed with me while I get an IV even though they are terrified of needles, or will face time me to watch home videos with me just because I’m sad or in pain. I have gained the best friends in my life from getting sick, especially my very best friend in the world, which I could have never survived my worst times without.
To my best friend: I am thankful for you every single day. I truly wouldn’t have made it this far without you. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for your unconditional friendship. You are irreplaceable to me.
For the people who faded: I’m not mad. I understand that you just couldn’t deal with it, and I don’t have any hard feelings toward you.
Second, I learned how many kids there are out there who are hurting from diseases. I have met so many wonderful people and new friends with illnesses that I would have never met unless I became sick. Some days I can cheer them up, and other days, I need them to cheer me on. I have become an advocate of invisible illnesses and supporter for anyone who needs me by becoming a writer for “Card for Warriors,” which I wouldn’t know about if I didn’t get sick.
I have raised awareness to hundreds if not thousands of people. Not just about my illness, but all invisible illnesses. Everyone is fighting some sort of battle. Be there for someone who needs you, even if it’s just to check in and ask if they are OK. You might change their entire world with a single text.
Another thing I’ve learned is that I am stronger than I ever knew I could be, because I didn’t have any other choice. On days I struggled to get out of bed, I went to practice. On days I didn’t think I could walk, I went to school. You will never know how strong you can be until your body and mind force you to be stronger than you know how.
I’ve learned to laugh about everything because there is always something worth smiling about. Making jokes about the things I do and go through just makes things easier. I mean, who wants to be sad all the time when you can just laugh at yourself and move on? So what if I put my shoes in the laundry basket and my laundry in the fridge because I have brain fog? It’s still funny right? Also, can you say that you dance with an IV pole?
Most importantly, if I didn’t get sick and learn what really mattered in life, I wouldn’t have the most amazing guy that I get to call mine. It took being in a terrible place to understand that the guys worth having are there for you 100 percent of the time, not just when you can be “fun” and “cute.” I know without a doubt every single day that I wake up that he will love me and be with me if I am happy, hyper, and model worthy, or if I can’t get out of bed, and look like hell. I never doubt that he will be by my side. He is willing to take care of me when I need him to and sit through hours of doctors appointments. He knows my medication schedules by heart and is there every single time I need him, just because he loves me.
So, for all of the things that have happened to me in the last two years, I am thankful because I’m a better and more compassionate person. It sounds odd, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything. The best things in my life have come from getting sick and learning what really matters in life.
Today, please celebrate with me, for the better person I have become, and let my story help each of you to be the very best you that you can be. Be a fighter, be a giver, and be someone who loves with everything they can – because disease or not, none of us are promised tomorrow.
If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.
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