Living in the Moment

Living in the moment is something I often have trouble with.

Life these past five years has not gone as I planned by any means. I feel like I’m always looking to the future when “I feel better” or “feel happier” thinking life will better then. Instead of trying to enjoy this chapter in my life, I’m always looking ahead.

I started college this summer at my local community college, and it’s been hard to enjoy it. I can’t help but think about how I “should have” graduated high school and “should have” gone to a four year university right away. Those things just aren’t going to happen for me, and I know I need to get over it. I’m guilty of judging people who’ve gone to community college in the past. Always assuming they screwed around in high school and so they couldn’t go anywhere else. Now looking back I realize how prejudiced and rude that was, but I still push those stereotypes on myself.

I’m grateful that my health is in a place that let’s me be able to start college full time in the fall. I should enjoy this time I have feeling well, since I never know when I’ll flare again. Honestly I’m afraid of my next flare. As the fall school year becomes closer and closer, I’m scared I’ll flare right when classes start. I really want to go to school full time this year, and I want to be successful. Instead of enjoying feeling well, I’m often worried and thinking about all of that what-ifs.

Sometimes I just need to take a deep breath and remind myself of all the wonderful things in my life. Sure, there’s gapping holes that I’ve desperately wanted to fill for years, but I have so many amazing things in my life going on too. Even in these times when I’m feeling better I can’t help but feel the exhaustion of my past. I’m only seventeen, but living seventeen more years sounds horrendous. My life is supposed to be “just beginning,” but it already feels so long.

I want to live in the moment.  I want to enjoy the now.

It’s just a lot harder than I expected it to be.

 

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

Chronic Illness and Career in Medicine

From the time I was eight I knew I wanted to go into medicine.

Then I got sick.

I’ve lost count of how many doctors I’ve seen, but a lot of my experiences have been bad, especially when I’m admitted to the hospital or in the ER. Going to countless doctors and not getting much help made me lose my passion for medicine. I never want to make other people feel the way some medical professionals have made me feel. And yes, I could be the one to do things differently, but I’m not so sure I want to.

Maybe part of this decision to not go into medicine,  is because I’ve gotten older, or because  my physical health could make a job where you’re on your feet all day extra exhausting. I also know that when I wanted to go into medicine I wanted to be a doctor, and that takes a long time and a lot of school to become. I have a huge respect for nurses, but their job just doesn’t sound appealing to me after watching so many of them through my own experiences.

When I was still going to school I took all the medical classes I could. I was in medical terminology, health science, anatomy and physiology, and psychology. I even took career portal into health science in middle school – I was dedicated. This fall should be my senior year of high school, but since I had to leave I’m getting my GED this semester, and taking classes at my local community college in the fall. Ironically I’m going from being behind my peers to being ahead of them, but this is the only way I can stay on track.

I’ve also seen lots of middle aged health care professionals who seem to hate their job. There are a lot of people who start out excited and wanting to make a difference, but they get worn down after time and no longer enjoy it. I don’t want to be the angry, bitter nurse who snaps at patients, or the doctor who doesn’t listen and just writes a prescription for pain killers. You never know if you’re seeing someone on a bad day, but I don’t want to make anyone else’s day worse, like some of them have done to me.

I’ve found a new passion and I know exactly what I want to do now, but part of me is sad that my life-long dream has just fizzled away. It’s hard to get excited about something when it hasn’t helped you. People change and grow over time, so maybe this is just me changing and growing. I’m honestly not sure. This is just one of many examples of how Chronic Illness really does affect every aspect of our lives.

Lots of Love,

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

High School Dropout

Yup, you read that right, I am a high school drop out. Saying or rather typing those words still stings deeply. This is not something I ever imagined being a part of my narrative, but here I am, 17 and no longer going to school.

I dropped out in November of this year after struggling for the past five years with crippling chronic illness. I have been formally diagnosed with abdominal migraines, and chronic migraines, but I am still trying to get answers about other health problems I might have which include PCOS and hyper mobility syndrome.

I worked incredibly hard these past five years to make decent grades and complete all my work. I attended school less than 50% of the time most years, and was put into a “homebound” status by my school in 7th, 9th, 10th, and 11th grade. When I was on homebound I had a teacher come to my house to give me my work, and teach what they could. Unfortunately they weren’t very much help, and it is incredibly hard to do AP high school classes with little to no instruction.

As far as my plans for future education, I plan on getting my GED in the winter/spring of 2017, and then in the fall of 2017 starting some college courses at my local community college. There’s so many holes in my education, this isn’t going to be easy, but I don’t really have any other options. In the short time I’ve been out of school I’ve had everyone I know offer their opinion , that I didn’t ask for. “You should really try online high school”, “There’s so many other options!” None of these things are helpful to me, and online high school isn’t going to work for my situation. I am going to take some online classes to try and “get educated” before I go to college, but I’m not pursuing a high school diploma.

There are very few people who will be able to understand what I’ve been going through, but I know that I’m no the only one to ever drop out of high school. My parents tell me this will be the “miraculous part of my story,” but I’m not so sure. What I do know is I have to pick myself up off the pavement and continue on.

– Alyssa