My story is a long one, it spans over eight years of my still young life. It deals with loss, disappointment, and ultimately triumph. So bear with me as I sift through the mess that has been my life for nearly a decade.
It started out when I was 15 with headaches, but not your everyday typical headaches. I went to my local doctor and was put through every scan, procedure, and medication in the book. Nothing worked. I was poked and prodded until the doctor finally shrugged and said “I don’t know what else to do”. I walked out of that office and never went back.
I started my 16th year with a new doctor, and new symptoms. The headaches that once plagued me had transformed into searing debilitating pain coursing through me. On my first visit with my new doctor I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. It is a chronic condition that causes widespread pain throughout the body, amongst other symptoms. I almost always was in pain and unable to gather my strength to make it to school most days. The people in my life didn’t understand, and neither did I. As the stressors in my life gradually got worse so did my symptoms.
As my symptoms worsened into the next year, it affected my attendance so bad that my High School forced me to drop out. I had to attend online school. I rarely got out of bed, everyday activities were almost impossible. I had hit rock bottom.
One day while watching TV I heard about a new vegan cookbook coming out. I bought it immediately and started a strict vegan diet. I lost 60 pounds in a short amount of time. My pain was alleviated and I felt amazing. I finally had something to be proud of. I returned to high school for my senior year and over the course lost an additional 30 pounds. Everything seemed perfect. I went to prom, graduated, and was heading off to college.
All of my dreams were coming true.
Unfortunately things didn’t stay that way for long. Shortly after graduating High School I decided to stop my vegan diet. My symptoms slowly became apparent again. I started college, but after one semester I had to take a break. I began to feel unmotivated and my pain came back. In 2013 when I was 20, everything got worse when I lost two family members, who I loved dearly, within a few months of each other. I started gaining weight rapidly.
In 2015 I was tired of feeling sick all of the time, so I decided to get help. I finally found a doctor who I was comfortable with and she recommended that I should see a psychiatrist. I was later diagnosed with Bipolar Depression. The most painful part of the process was learning I never had Fibromyalgia. For eight years I mistook the physical pains and symptoms I experienced as Fibromyalgia, I was convinced that I would live with that diagnosis for the rest of my life. But I know now that depression can cause physical side effects. Now I had to learn how to treat this new diagnosis that I had no experience with.
In 2016, after a year of trial and error, I finally found the right treatment that worked for me. I am able to be my true self. I am back to being vegan again. Before, I was stuck in bed, but now, I hike every morning and I’m as active as I’ve ever been. I just started and I’m down 26 pounds. I couldn’t be happier.
This is not a road I have walked alone, though many days and weeks and months have felt that way. I have been isolated from emotions and the physical comfort of youth, stripped of these things by depression on a long road full of twists and turns. But, always remember this: It has been so worth it to get to where I am now.
Some days it feels like I have lost so much… people in my life, opportunities I was too incapacitated to take advantage of, a typical high school and college experience… It’s made me a minority in my age group, but I am not willing to play victim. Now it’s my time to play catch up. I’ve spent the last 8 years healing myself, now it is time to move forward and get on a new path. A road with less rocky twists and turns, but more adventure, experience and enjoyment. I am thrilled to be starting my journey to me and I hope you’ll take it with me!