Dealing with Illness in Teenage Years

When I started high school I had my dreams and goals mapped out. I knew exactly what would happen, I had prepared for everything—'everything' being that my world would come together with not a single thing wrong and high school would be a breeze. I don't think I've ever been more wrong about something. 

I didn't even make it through two years of high school without almost getting kicked out. And it wasn't even because I was a troublesome child. No, the school wanted me gone because I had an incurable illness. An invisible illness that made me seem as if I was lazy and wanted to flake out on school, grades, and life.

They were adamant that chronic migraines couldn't be bad enough to be hospitalized. There couldn't be an illness that we know nothing about and can barely be treated and has no visible effects. I was told that I needed to go to therapy and just learn to be "okay" surviving in high shcool. I was told to stop being an attention whore and to show up and do my work.

I think that it was then that my world started to fall apart. No matter what I said, my voice wasn't heard. I was just the troublesome teenager craving attention and making drama. The few people that did want to help became quickly frustrated when I kept saying, "I can't because of my migraines." They told me to chillax and take an Excedrin like everyone else. They were on my side trying to help me, but I first had to help myself.

I didn't know how to help myself. I had gone from an A student to someone who couldn't make above a 60. I was known as the "skipper" and everyone thought I just missed school for fun. No one believed that a migraine could be so bad that I lost my eyesight, forgot where I was and who I was, that I started to hallucinate. They didn't understand that sound or light could cause me to curl into the fetal position and want to cry. I was a barely functioning person. Sleep was the only time that I was okay and I was then yelled at to stop sleeping my life away.

Three years later and I can still barely function some days. I still get called an attention whore and people don't believe that I care about school because I "can't be bothered to show up." After changing schools five times in three years, I am going to graduate in a few months and I could care less about my diploma.

All I really want is my three years back. All I want is to be at the same high-school where I knew everyone from kindergarten. To be doing gymnastics, a sport I had to quit after 13 years. To be back in band, learning new music. Just having that vibe of the band family. To have submitted college applications (on time). To have a plan like I thought my life was going to be like.

Not one where I was perceived as fragile and stupid. Where everything I did had to be monitored or I might not make it to school the next day. Where the only concern anyone had was for me to graduate. Not get into my dream college. But to graduate and go to community college. The local one that's free because you're in the same state and county as them. Having to live at home during college to be closely monitored. The constant questions or condescending voices of those concerned I could break at any given moment.

I wasn't dying. I was managing an illness that was unpredictable and invisible to everyone else. But I just wish that my life was normal. that I had a person in my corner. One friend still left. One sport to care for. One college acceptance letter I could look forward to getting, but instead all I will have is a diploma that I could barely even get.

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