Getting My GED

I finally bit the bullet and took all four of my GED tests!

I had studied off and on since January, but I knew I was stalling and needed to go ahead and get it done. Honestly I was just really afraid of failing.  When I was studying it wasn’t that hard, but I thought it would be really embarrassing to fail a test that’s supposed to be easy.

I took the social studies portion on May 2nd and passed with flying colors. Then I took the math test and the science test on May 9th, which were the ones I was most nervous about. Luckily I also did really well and overall it wasn’t very hard. Finally I took the English test yesterday. I’ve always done well in English and aced all of my state mandated English tests, so I wasn’t worried about this one at all. I could have done them all in one day, but with my chronic illnesses I didn’t think that would be a good idea. They allow you so much time to test, and I wasn’t sure how much I would actually take so splitting them up seemed like the best choice. I passed them all as college ready which was really exciting, and I was one point away from getting college credit on the science portion. 

I’m so so happy to be done with the high school portion of my life! I honestly can’t express enough how much this is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I’m done with high school… early. Yes a GED isn’t as good as an actual high school diploma, but back in the fall I wasn’t so sure I was going to be able to even get this done before the Summer began. Now all I need is my license and I can start taking college classes at my local community college in the fall! The situation may not be ideal, but I’m choosing to celebrate the win and look forward to getting my life back on track.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

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Being on Your Own Timeline

In the U.S. and especially in the suburbs there’s a pattern to life that your assumed to follow.

Graduate high school, go straight away to a University, graduate college in four years, get your first job, get married, have kids, etc.

I was raised to believe this is the only way to be successful in life, but after having my life interrupted by chronic illness and having to pave a different path for myself I’ve learned just how wrong that is. Everyone does things at their own pace; some people aren’t mature enough to go to college straight out of high school or can’t financially make ends meet so they have to work before going to school. For other people college just isn’t the right choice for them, or they choose to go back to school later in life.

While I am definitely pro-education and believe, given the opportunity, you should obtain as much education as possible, I can see that there are situations that can make that difficult or near impossible. You don’t have to have life figured out at 22, or even your own life figured out.

While there’s always going to be a lot of external pressure to follow a certain timeline, only you can know what’s best for yourself. Right now it’s best for me to be out of high school while I pursue my GED and get my health on track, to other people the decisions I’ve made may not be what they think is right, but I don’t believe you can speak to experiences you haven’t had.

Every time I meet someone new there’s always a million questions about school and extra curricular’s. I don’t feel the need to tell my sob story to everyone I meet so I often tell them the town I live in and let them make their own assumptions. Occasionally I’ll tell people the things I used to do when I was in school without mentioning I don’t go there anymore, but that’s normally when I’m uncomfortable with all the questions and feel like I’m being judged.

It’s crazy how narrow minded people can be. I try to put myself in other peoples shoes and examine situations from all aspects the best that I can. There isn’t one correct way to live life and I think this plan we’ve created as a society and seem to believe everyone should follow to a T can be really detrimental. You’re not a failure if your life doesn’t look like the majority of your peers, friends, or family members. You also don’t have to have the same dreams and goals as everyone around you.

Be yourself and do things on your own timeline!

Alyssa

Continuing Education

I’m setting a date to take my GED.

If you aren’t aware, I dis-enrolled from high school back in November and have been navigating what I’m going to do ever since then. After trying online high school, it not going well, and having a the biggest fight I’ve ever had with my parents, I’m finally going to take my GED test like we had planned all along. Since I’m only seventeen I had to get approved from the state, and I was approved yesterday morning so things are starting to get in place!

I’ve been studying a little bit here and there over the last few weeks and I don’t think passing it will be a problem. I’ve always done really well in school, and the GED test is supposed to be pretty easy. I’m still going to continue to study up until my test day because unexpectedly failing would be quite embarrassing.

I feel like this is a step in the right direction, even though it makes me really sad. I never wanted to leave high school, but this is the only way for me to move on and continue my education. I want to start some college courses over the summer, so I need to get my GED and then my license and I’ll be set. I guess hard decisions are part of “becoming an adult,” and I should get used to them. It’s definitely not the end of the world, it’s just a major disappointment. The burden and stigma of being a “high school drop-out” and a GED holder could set me back in my career which makes me nervous.

This is the right decision for me and I feel good about that. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about it, researching it, and talking about it with my family. Now I just want it to be over with so I can move on.

How was your high school experience?

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Reflections

This has been a wild year.

A really wild year.

Between my personal life, health issues, school, and the current state of  US politics, things are definitely  different from this time last year. Last New Year’s Day I was on vacation in Seattle and Vancouver, now I’m in my pajamas, ringing in the new year eating cereal.

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As I navigate this weird transitional period from being a child into being an adult, I have learned more about myself, and the world as a whole than I ever have before. I’ve realized my love of social justice and politics, I have become more passionate and outspoken about causes I care about, and  I am more open and comfortable with my sexuality. Things are definitely different.

This year has brought on more doctors visits, more testing, and even a trip to Cincinnati to visit the Children’s hospital there. Cincinnati was one of the worst experiences of my life, but I learned so much from it. I had thought my whole life I would go into medicine, but this experience really made me re-evaluate what I want. I also feel the need to self-advocate for my health more than ever before; I’m not a child anymore, I need to stop relying on my mom to speak for me.

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I’ve also learned that my biggest nightmares can come true, and I’ll still be okay. I was always afraid my health would force me to drop out of school, and it finally did. It was scary, and my future is unknown, but I know I’m going to be fine. It may not feel that way now, but things will change. My “biggest fears” don’t seem as scary now that I’m facing something I feared for so long.

With the election I learned some not so fun lessons. Sure, I knew racist, homophobic, and just generally bigoted people still existed (I live in Texas, hello!), but I never realized how much America was filled with so much hatred for one another. Being gay, this new government makes me scared for my future. Will I still be able to get married? Will I still be able to adopt kids? Will I be a victim of hate crime, like the people in the pulse shooting?  I hope 2017 is a rebuilding year for the states, and that Donald Trump doesn’t do any damage in these years to come. I sincerely hope he does a good job as president, but I’m expecting the worst. This year more than ever I’ve been vocal about my political opinions. I supported Hillary Clinton from the very beginning of her campaign. I got a Hillary shirt in November 2015, wore it on Election Day, and still continue to wear it, despite the ridicule I got at school from both students and teachers. She may not be perfect, but she taught me so much about being a strong woman and perseverance.

My January is filled with more doctors appointments and tests, but hopefully these will lead to the answers I’ve been looking for. I may be starting out my New Year in the same spot medically, but my oh my have I learned so much this year. I hope this time next year I’m healthier, happier, and have learned even more about life. What have you learned/ accomplished in 2016? What do you plan to accomplish in this new year?

Lots of Love and Happy New Year,

Alyssa

Dear High School,

2016 is coming to a close, so I thought I would write a letter to “high school” as some sort of closure to my high school experience . I wrote about why I dropped out of school here.

 

Dear High School,

I wanted so much more from you. I wanted to learn, and make friends, and have picture perfect memories. I thought junior year would be “my year.” I thought I would finally get the high school experience I always dreamed of, but now I know that will never happen.

I will never wear a prom dress, or a graduation cap. I will never walk across a stage to accept a diploma, and I will never have a year book to look back on. I’m not angry, just incredibly disappointed. I never thought I would drop out – I never thought I would have to.

It’s painful to watch the people I once knew getting everything I ever wanted. I try not to envy them, but who am I kidding, I want their lives more than I could ever voice. This life I’m living isn’t ideal, but it’s mine. I didn’t want these chapters in my story, and I wish I could omit them so bad.

They tell me “college is better than high school anyway,” but I’m not so sure my life will be different when I make it to college. I may very well have the same issues a year or two years from now that I have today. How can things change if I never get better?

I don’t cry. I pinch my leg to hold back tears and pretend everything is fine, but every time someone asks “what grade are you in?” or “how’s high school going?” it stings even deeper. I’m sad far more often than I ever let people know, but I’m tired of being a downer. I’m tired of saying I’m in pain, and I’m tired of complaining. Although most of the time all I can do is complain, because nothing else helps.

I feel cheated. Cheated from a quality education and cheated of a positive high school experience. Teachers and administrators could have tried harder; they could have helped more. I pushed myself through four and half years of hell, only to walk way in November. I feel like it was all for nothing, and a huge waste of my time. I did it all by myself, and wish I could have gotten help when I begged my school to give me more.

I have hope through God, and through that hope I believe there are better days ahead. The only thing I can do now is move on and move forward. Being bitter, or sad isn’t going to help my situation, but at times it’s all I can do. I want to let go, and be happy, but it’s complicated.

Hopes for a Bigger & Brighter Future,

Alyssa

Isolated

Chronic illness is isolating.

I have spent the majority of the past five years alone, in a dark room. I no longer attend high school, and I don’t talk to any of my old friends. I’m not saying these things for pity, or sympathy; they are just simple facts.

Chronic pain keeps me from doing or enjoying pretty much everything I used to. I got sick during the transitional time from elementary school to middle school, so making new friends became really hard. Now that I’ve started online school, I don’t see anyone from my old high school or talk to them. The only “new places” I’ve been going are doctors offices – so I don’t think I’m gonna find any new friends there, but hey ya never know.

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After a few months/years friends and family get tired of asking me how I am feeling. They assume I’m gonna better, and forget I’m sick. But I don’t forget; I don’t have that luxury. They get tired of hearing me say “I’m in pain” or feel fatigued. They no longer want to know about my doctors visits or hospital stays. I don’t blame them, the never ending cycle of chronic illness is tiring and generally negative. Friends were the first thing I lost. A few close ones stuck around a couple of years, but now they’re gone too. My immediate family is still here for me, but my extended family never asks how I am anymore. I don’t need/want them to make a big deal about it – but it would be nice if they’d ask about me every once in a while.

Being alone almost all the time makes going out in public hard. I’m sensitive to noise, and the world is one big ball of sound. I never had social anxiety before, but now it’s exhausting being around other people. I feel emotionally drained even being around family. I know I’m gonna have to get over this, because I can’t stay in my room at my parents house for the rest of my life. I want to go to college and get a good job. Both of those things are gonna have to involve being around other people on a daily basis. I can have a negative outlook on life, and when a lot of negative things are going on it makes it 10x more difficult to act cheery and positive. .

If you find chronic illness isolating – you’re not alone. I’m here and probably in my pajamas.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa

Normal

Sometimes I wonder if I still know how to be a normal person. After five years of being sick my life is anything but ordinary. I am seventeen and I don’t go to school, I don’t have a job, and I don’t have a normal social life. Instead I take four hour long nap, have endless doctor visits, and spend way too much time in the ER.

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When I think of my future, I imagine myself better. I see myself having fun in college, and then getting a job I love. Finding the girl of my dreams, and having an amazing family. It’s becoming more clear that my illness may have to be a part of all that. I’m having to accept that I may not get better. While I try to achieve my dreams, in five more years I may still be dealing with the same problems I have today.

I have hope that my reality won’t always include being chronically ill, but I’m learning that I shouldn’t expect that to be true. If I do end up getting better to where I can function as a regular human being, I’m not sure I will know what to do. Do I still remember how to go to school everyday, and stay up late studying? Will I know how to have a normal social life, and get out of my house every few days? Chronic illness is so isolating, sometimes I’m not sure if I even know how to talk to other people. Between the brain fog, and spending most of my time alone, I began to feel overwhelmed when I am surrounded by others.

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Many people struggle with chronic illnesses that will never go away, so I know that I can do it;  I just don’t want to have to. Seeing people who are sick but continue to live normal lives is really inspiring to me. I’m currently not in a place where I can physically do everything a normal person can do, but I’m trying my best to get there. I am looking into getting botox for my migraines, because it’s the one thing I haven’t tried yet. Many people swear by this, so I’m hoping it’s the answer I’ve been looking for.

In the new year I’m also starting counseling. I’ve been a few times for them to do intake, and to do some testing, but I haven’t had my fist session of actual therapy yet. I don’t believe that going to counseling makes you weak, but I never wanted to be in a situation where I found it necessary. After going for the initial visits, I think it’s going to be helpful. I’m an introvert who often keeps my deepest feelings to myself. I don’t like to talk about my problems, although writing them out feels freeing. Talking to a third party who isn’t a part of my everyday life will give me the opportunity to work through some thoughts and feelings I’ve had for a long time.

When you’re chronically ill, healthy people always assume that you could be doing more, or trying harder. I have a hard time with people who have never been sick, trying to tell me how I should live my life as someone who is chronically ill. No healthy person will ever be able to understand the struggles of being in chronic pain.

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I spend most my life in a state of being cautiously optimistic. I try to believe I will get better, while protecting myself for if I don’t. Society doesn’t talk enough about chronic illness, and many people have never even pondered the struggles of being in a constant state of pain. Although I don’t blame them, it isn’t exactly an uplifting experience to think about all the suffering in the world. I’d love to hear other experiences of being chronically ill, whether you’ve improved at all or not. I think the best thing we can do is band together and support one another.

Lots of Love,

Alyssa