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When My Illness Prevented Me From Attending College

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It’s 2014, I’ve graduated high school. Now, in the summer before everyone was getting ready to leave to start their exciting journey, I realized I was stuck. Stuck with the reality that my illness has overtaken my life and stopped me from moving away. I say good-bye to my best friends and wish them luck as they start their new adventure. I am heartbroken. I scroll through social media feeds and constantly see friends going on new and exciting adventures. It all seems unfair. There are many different reasons why I was feeling this way and I’ve tried to summarize a few:

1. My friends thought that I was “lucky” to not have to attend college. Little did they know, I constantly wondered when or how I will be able to attend university. I wondered if my body would ever allow me to live my dreams. I need my doctors close by, along with my pharmacy and pharmacist who knows all 19 pills I take daily and often answers complicated questions about my prescriptions. Moving away is just a dream – seemingly only available for those who are healthy.

2. I felt inadequate compared to the people around me. Even though I personally know the reality of my chronic illness, I still understand that other people don’t know the battle I am against. I felt judged when I said that I would not be attending college. Friends and family asked me what I would be doing instead of attending college, and unfortunately, I didn’t quite have an answer. I try to explain to them that I am not healthy enough to move away. They give their well wishes and say that they hope I have a “speedy recovery” or hope the doctors are able to miraculously “find a cure,” but they don’t understand that I will never truly be rid of my illness. Unfortunately, I know the reality that a cure is far from being here.

3. Complete devastation is the easiest way to explain how I felt when I came to terms with the fact that my illness was the only thing limiting me from my next step in life. I wondered what would happen to me and where I fit in the world. I asked myself so many questions. Will I ever be well enough to attend college? Do I even have a chance at pursuing my dream job? Will I ever be able to live on my own without assistance? For healthy adults, these are questions that they never have to think about, but unfortunately for those of us who are chronically ill we must ask ourselves these questions and so many more.

Throughout the years, I’ve realized that time really does heal. The feelings of frustration and anger will be relieved when you find something that works for you. I currently attend university online. I’m able to pace myself and work on my classwork when I feel well. I’m not expected to be in class everyday, for hours at a time and that’s the key part of my success in college.

Although we may always be chronically ill, that does not control our fate. We are warriors, strong and courageous, and if we can fight our illnesses everyday we can certainly make a difference in the world around us. Our story may not be like all the others around us, but that’s what makes us so uniquely and incredibly special.

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Originally published: July 18, 2017
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