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The Choice I Made After Learning I'd Be Sick Every Day for the Rest of My Life

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I had known for a long time that something was wrong. As a senior in high school, I was struggling to keep up, and it was seemingly getting worse as time went on. The months encompassing my diagnosis were without a doubt the darkest I have ever experienced. The diagnosis wasn’t the worst-case scenario, but it wasn’t very positive either. At the age of 18, I sat in the office of a specialist as I was told I would be sick every day for the rest of my life.

And there was nothing they could do.

In the aftermath of my diagnosis, I struggled to fight the darkness. Despite feeling a little better physically, I found myself not wanting to get out of bed. I felt like my life was over before it had even begun. Any hopes I had of a normal life, career or even family suddenly seemed out of reach. I felt like there was no hope. It took me a few weeks to realize I couldn’t live this way. I couldn’t restrict myself and treat myself like I was sick and fragile. Two weeks after my diagnosis I made a crucial choice, one that will continue to have an impact on me for the rest of my life: I chose to fight back.

I began to drag myself out of bed in the morning. My entire body hurt, I constantly felt sick, but I made a promise to myself that I was going to fight with everything in me. I would not let this disease define me and decide my life for me. Every day I have to push myself to go on. It’s not easy, and some days are much easier than others. With chronic disease, every single day is a battle against your own body. You constantly have to fight back and propel yourself forward. It’s exhausting, and there are days when I just have to lay in bed because I don’t have the energy that day, and that’s OK.

In the famous words of John Green, “pain demands to be felt,” and this rings true of physical and emotional pain. Feeling pain is part of who we are as humans, and despite how it makes us feel in the moment, it makes us stronger in the long run. I didn’t know how tough I could be and how hard I could fight until I was faced with my diagnosis. Since then, I have become my own personal cheerleader, and my own biggest fan. I learned that above all, you have to fight for yourself because you and you alone are your own strongest warrior.

My disease taught me to appreciate the little things in life because when your daily life is limited, the little things become the big things. You learn to cherish every moment and celebrate your victories, no matter how small, even if it’s just getting out of bed in the morning. More than anything, you learn how to love yourself. You come to appreciate your body, even when it isn’t working how you want it to. You find out how to believe in yourself and push yourself to go on, even when it seems impossible. Most of all, you learn to see the beauty in life and the wonder in the world around you, whether you are viewing it during a walk through the park or from a day spent in bed.

This post originally appeared on The Odyssey.

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Thinkstock photo by Mercy_C_M_H

Originally published: December 10, 2016
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