Last year, to the day, I crossed the threshold into my childhood home in California, with all my possessions from Colorado waiting patiently to be unpacked in the rented yellow Penske truck in our driveway. My dog was howling happily as she reacquainted herself with our other two dogs and my parents were bringing in some of my bags for the night. Dog nails were pittering on the wooden floor and tails were whacking the walls as the now, pack of dogs (three’s a pack, right?) excitedly followed me into the living room to be petted.
I was home.
I made it.
The ruminations leading up to the decision to come home were gut-wrenchingly sad and depressing, although there was a glimmer of hope and peace that showed its face after the multitude of tears. I couldn’t deny I was relieved once I crossed that doorway, but I also was very sad. I felt like somehow I didn’t make it; like I had failed.
I couldn’t really articulate what I was feeling at the time. And I don’t know if I will ever quite be able to tell it all, or share all the emotions I felt for leaving a place I loved with people still there that I love. Nevertheless, coming home was actually the best decision I made for my health. My senior year of college in Colorado was one of dichotomies. It was one of the best and worst years of my life. I laughed the hardest and cried the hardest in that small red-slated duplex in the alley.
Even though I loved where I lived and who I lived with, I was struggling a lot; more than I even admitted to myself at the time. So being able to come back home to live with my parents, where they could help me with everyday life, improved my quality of life immensely. But the thing is, I didn’t see this at first. When I first got home, I was just sad and depressed. And quite honestly, I don’t remember much about that summer.
Last summer, along with the better half of last year, I was still grieving. And this was unbeknownst to me. I thought the grieving was over. I had surely cried enough to think so. But I’m glad my therapist caught on and helped me through it. I didn’t realize how much it felt like I was walking around with an invisible open wound and until I finally let myself feel all those sad, angry, and utterly soul-crushing feelings. Then I was able to make room for love and light again. Truly grieving was an eye-opening experience.
I still remember that therapy session when we were outlining my plan of attack for fully grieving everything that I lost. My therapist told me that I needed to walk through the dark tunnel to get to the light. And I was understandably avoiding the tunnel because it was going to hurt. But she told me I would feel a lot better afterwards. And she was right. But I didn’t know that at the time. I had to trust her, because it was hard to see and feel that light. But it was there and now I feel bathed in it.
I feel a clear distinction between my life before I fully accepted my situation and my life afterwards. I feel free, no longer shackled to that stone-hearted feeling in my soul telling me I am destined for a life of unending suffering. By freeing up space in my heart for other things besides the sadness and grief I was holding on to, I felt lighter. I could also shift my focus to more things that fed my soul.
In the meantime, I was getting physically better. Through Instagram connections, I found a MCAS specialist in my adjacent county that has helped me with new medications. I was able to work about 15 hours per week as a K-8 biology educator, with some leftover energy on days to go outside to play with my dogs or hang out with friends. I’m now going to switch gears with jobs because I want to live more life outside of work. Nevertheless, it’s honestly so amazing that I was able to work as many hours as I did teaching for 9 months, and I am thankful for getting that experience.
More changes are coming as I continue to figure out how best I want to live my life with my illnesses. But I cannot express enough how thankful I am to even have the opportunity to chose and have options. As I write this, I’m actually crying out of happiness for all the improvements in my health. I get to live more life because of my medications and treatments. I feel so lucky for these things.
There’s still more room for slight improvements in my physical health in the future. I am continuing to work with my MCAS specialist, cardiologist, sleep doctor, and PCP to figure out the best treatment scenario. I am also working on my emotional health with the help with my therapist. I’ve made big strides in this arena and am looking forward to keeping up the good work as well as work on new issues moving forward.
I’m still figuring out how to live a life I’m happy with and proud of. Some days are easier than others. And some are still flat out hard. But it is what it is.
Along with my doctors and Instagram friends, I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support of my parents, sister, close friends, and extended family. I am so very appreciate to have people in my life who believe me and who’ve helped me through hard times as well as enjoy the good times.
The biggest shout out will always go to my mom. She’s been there and believed me since the very first day my symptoms started, never doubting my illness as anything other than real. She’s offered me so much emotional support through everything just by listening and empathizing with my hardships. I honestly can’t imagine where I would be without her.
I’m 23 today. Sometimes I feel like I’m 30 and most of the time I look like I’m 20, but nevertheless I am 23. I don’t know where I imagined myself when I’d be 23, but probably not where I am. I used to be sad about that, but now it doesn’t seem like a big deal. I am happy and I am healthier than I was last year. And I no longer feel truly trapped. So I will celebrate another year of life.
I feel like this post only scratched the surface of what this year has been. And that’s okay. Some things don’t need to be retold and some things I’ll just have to see where they go.//
“Here’s the good.
Here’s the bad.
Here’s the bad in the good.
Here’s the good in the bad.
And this is life”