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The Sentence My Doctor Said That Changed My Whole Outlook

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Growing up I was always the kid who planned their entire life. I knew I wanted to go to university, I even ordered some prospectuses when I was 10 so I could plan which ones I would apply to when I turned 18. I would even look up cars on dealership websites so I could plan what type of car I wanted when I was old enough to drive!

And yet, now I’m 20-years-old, still live with my parents, haven’t been to university yet, never learned to drive, can’t go out for the day without spending the next day stuck in bed with no energy…I could go on and on.

This is the problem a lot of people with long-term health problems are faced with. Having an illness can feel as if you’re frozen and time is still marching along ignoring you. It sounds silly, but sometimes I feel like I’m still a teenager because my health took away all these independent things I had planned to do once I was an adult.

I’m 20 and I still need my parents to remind me to take my medicine, to eat and even to remind me when I have to go somewhere. It can feel embarrassing, especially when I see friends getting engaged, moving into their first houses or having children. While I sit here I am still having basic “adult” responsibilities done for me (but that’s not to say I’m not happy that my parents are willing to help me…I’m incredibly grateful they assist me everyday, no matter how bad I am that day).

It can be really difficult to get your head around the fact that you may never be as independent as your peers. And although you do eventually come to terms with it, there’s always that “what if” in the back of your mind.

Something my consultant said to me has really stuck with me, and I think a lot of people my age with chronic illnesses would be happy to hear it. I was upset at my appointment because the doctor had just told me I needed to take another year out before considering going to university due to my health:

“You don’t have to do everything before you turn 25,” she said.

That was the first time someone really made me stop and think about my frame of mind. To me, it was as if I was wasting my life because of my illness. But in reality nothing is stopping me from going to university in three, four, or maybe even 10 years. By waiting until my plethora of conditions are more under control, I know now I will enjoy my time at university even more when I eventually go.

In the meantime, I’m trying to focus on the here and now. I no longer try to plan my life because nobody knows what will happen in the next decade. For now, I’m just focusing on making my bedroom more comfortable for myself. I’m no longer going to deny myself the help I need in daily life out of some unrealistic timer I made for myself as a child.

I’ve got all the time in the world. I’ll worry about all that stuff later.




Photo submitted by contributor.

Originally published: June 2, 2019
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