I decided it would be good to open up a bit, and tell anyone interested more about myself. Warning: there are seriousnesses and feelings beyond this point… but now I can do this for the sake of others, and that’s a wonderful feeling.
I am currently at art school studying commercial illustration. Previously, I got an Associates Degree in General Studies from Franciscan University of Steubenville. I loved studying philosophy and literature/english the best there, both of which were pleasant surprises to me. My last semester of my two years there was spent in their study abroad program in Austria… I was able to do that because the year before, on the day of my birthday, I found a sponsor, when I wasn’t even looking, to send me there. I either passed through and/or visited 10 countries at least. To this day I’m still not sure that’s really happening, and it was 5 years ago.
However, Franciscan is expensive, and they didn’t have an art major of any kind that I was happy with- I’m sorry, but the “communications” they had just the same thing. At all. And art is in my blood apparently.
But before art school could happen, I had to regain my health.
Before I went to Franciscan U, I noticed changes in my body… I knew my sister had issues all her life with fibromyalgia, but still, I didn’t think it would happen to me. During my time there, I noticed things I hadn’t really before- some big, some small.. Still, I didn’t know to think whatever that was were actually symptoms. I started knowing something was very wrong right before I left for Austria… I remember trying to decide if I was really gonna get in that plane and both fly and leave the country by myself for the first time, when clearly, something was very wrong. I was really quite sick the day before I left. But I went anyway.
The whole trip was a mix of extreme highs and lows. I knew something was wrong, but I kept going. Constantly going from mind blowing experiences, to disappearing because I was sick and didn’t want anyone to see me; and all the while, being fueled by probably abnormal amounts of adrenaline, which I think consequently fried my system.
So when I tell you I had reverse culture shock when I got back to the USA about 3 months later, I hope you realize more my full meaning. My mind and body were truly shocked. What I know now to be Fibromyalgia, Dystautonomia, POTS, and Ehlers Danlos had kicked into full gear. I realized that I actually had symptoms all along growing up- I had just assumed I was lazy wimp compared to the other kids. I at least tasted a lil bit of “life was hell” for nearly 3 years. Yeah, art school was put on hold. Life in general was. I had plans I was dying to work for. I had no idea I’d be fighting with everything in me those 3 years just to go to the grocery store. I was torn down to my foundation and had to rebuild as a person. I learned who my real friends were, and how much real friends can make the difference. I learned how much my amazing family and my faith as a Catholic mattered. How little things had happened to prepare me for this.
Part of the reason I wanted to tell you more about me was to simply raise awareness about these currently incurable and very real diseases. And to reach out to those who may have them. For what it’s worth I know they are real and I believe you- sometimes realizing they are real is half the battle, for both those who have them and for those around them. The list of my symptoms at that time and now is quite extensive. You feel you are a burden to your loved ones, and you don’t know if you will ever be capable of giving back, and that is very humbling. Everyday is a fight. But the power of will, attitude, family, and making good decisions about every little aspect of your life can really make all the difference; it can give you the will to go on, even if you have to fight the rest of your life.
Yeah, I had planned to be further along by now. I wanted to be graduated from art school, have a steady job, and be traveling to Japan by now (I AM going someday). I feel kept behind: a little bit like a failure as an “adult” because the timing of things for me seem to be different than most people. I wanted to do cool hip stuff that young adults do. I want to be in shape, not just sometimes fight like hell to take a simple walk. But you know, even now, I wouldn’t change a thing in a way. Me and my body have been to battle together. I know many of those horrible and beautiful life lessons that sometimes people never learn. I know pain comes in many forms, in mind and body. But so many things have worked out in ways that amaze me. I love my school and my teachers and the things I’ve learned. I love living in Nashville right now and the people I’ve found there. Things have worked out, and I know they will continue to. And if they don’t, well, I know I’ve experience more than many people do in a life time in some ways, and I could die now and feel like life was worth it all. I am unspeakably grateful for that.
So, whatever life is throwin’ at ya, for whatever it’s worth, I feel you. Everyone has something- don’t you every doubt that your struggles aren’t real. Let them exist, let them be real, and fight and love. If you can’t fight for it it’s not worth loving. To love is to fight.
And most of all, at least once in your life, choose to love something enough to die for it. If you are lucky, you will have more than one of those things.
I guess this was actually quite a bit more about me…
Maybe sometime I’ll tell you more about amazing people, swing dancing, my reluctantly love of St. Therese the Little Flower, my late discovery of Harry Potter, adventures to NYC to see random Japanese rock bands (One Ok Rock!), and where on earth Edwin the mouse came from…
But I think this is enough for now.