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The Late Night Revelation I Had About Planning for My Future With Illness

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Last night I was sitting alone in my backyard on the tired, old bench of my childhood. It was dark and, me being me, I was in my PJs. The moon was out and there was a chilly wind. Not enough to make me cold but enough of a cool breeze to give me goosebumps on my arms. I just sat and listened to the world go by as the clouds headed north past the brightness of the moon. Suddenly it occurred to me that I didn’t expect any of the things that have happened in my life. All the things I thought my life would be are the polar opposites of my reality. But I’m OK with that…happy, even.

As a child, I thought I’d go to high school, be super popular, go to a sixth form college and then university and become a teacher like my mum. Of course, I’d lose my “puppy fat” and be the size of a stick by the time I left school as well. I’d find a teenage soul mate and be married by the time I turned 18. Being a mum and having a family was a big thing on my list for my future. In the first few years of high school, I imagined I would end up as head girl in my last year, or at the very least a senior prefect. I thought I’d get all As and A*s in my GCSEs and I’d go to a really prestigious sixth form in my area. I even thought I had a possibility of going to Oxbridge for university. I’d travel the world and then go on to become a teacher when I returned before settling down with a perfect husband and family in a lovely semi in suburbia.

In the last few years of high school, first of all, I didn’t think I would make it to my 16th birthday, let alone my 18th. But I did change my view on that during therapy and had aspirations to become a pediatric nurse and help children like me. I thought I would stay with my current boyfriend and fall in love. I thought my health would do a 360 before I reached 18 and suddenly I’d be cured.

When I was 16, nearly 17, struggling in college, I thought my health was going to spiral again and ruin college for me. Then I thought I’d leave college, get an apprenticeship and find my calling. I’d become an adult and everything would change for me. I’d get a life.

Well, now that I’m 18 and a half, how did all those ideas turn out? I did go to high school but I went to a high school where only one boy a few years above me knew me and I struggled to make friends in the first year. I was even bullied. I did go on to make several groups of friends but I became very stressed and my mental health went downhill quickly. I had panic attacks, self-harmed, attempted suicide and was treated for psychotic depression and anxiety. I stopped going to school.

Then I started having seizures. I was in and out of the hospital and hardly saw any of my friends. My diagnosis was psychogenic non-epileptic seizures and I was started on weekly psychotherapy sessions alongside existing medications. I was referred for home-schooling leading to schooling at a short-term medical referral education center. I stayed there for the last two years of my schooling and achieved an A*, two As and three Bs in my GCSEs along with a couple of other qualifications.

I chose to study Health and Social Care at my local college over A-levels at a sixth form college but struggled with my health and had to leave after only a few weeks. I started working for my dad’s business from home and have built up my confidence and self-esteem as well as my skills. I chose to end my psychotherapy sessions and have only grown as a consequence.

Health-wise? I’m mentally well and it’s now looking like my seizures are possibly organic and not psychogenic. I’m currently on a waiting list to see several specialists in the city. I was diagnosed with a uterine bleeding disorder which continues to be the bane of my life, but I’m trying various things to try and control it. As for the “puppy fat?” I’m plus size and happy. I’ve learned how to flaunt it and allowed myself to feel good about my body.

I don’t have any plans to go to university but I am considering progressing with my creative side. The only thing that has stayed consistent in my ideas of the future has been having a family. Things didn’t work out with the boy in high school and two years later, I’m finally out there in the dating game again. I still want to be a mum. It’s about the only thing that I still definitely want to see in my future. But right now isn’t the right time. I only have a year and a half left of my teens and I want to savor them without a young family. I’d much prefer to start a family in my 20s.

So, how do I see my future, now that I’m an 18-year-old with a complicated life? I’d never thought about it until last night, but I just want to be happy. My misfortunes and illnesses have changed my mindset. They’ve had much more of a positive impact on me than you’d think – in an indirect, twisted way, they’ve actually made me happy. As long as I’m happy, nothing else that is going on otherwise matters.

That was my revelation last night, sitting in my backyard, in my PJs, on a dark, breezy May evening.

I just want to be happy.

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Thinkstock photo via m-gucci.

Originally published: May 8, 2017
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