Truth is, I floated off into sleep around midnight like a little Ambien baby and awoke 30 minutes ago feeling wide awake. Funny how that never happens on the days when I NEED to wake up early. Yes, it's Whataburger breakfast time, but I already made a drive-thru trip in my pajamas Taco Bell 5 hours ago. One late night drive thru binge is fine, two would border on pathetic. So I decided to sit and enjoy the peace and quiet that is so rarely present in West Campus, and in life in general.
This week had some unexpected challenges. On Monday, I attended my first day of class since October. I was understandably nervous, but I thought it was normal butterflies. The last few times I was in class, I was knowingly suffering from pneumonia, unknowingly living with a blood clot, and starting to deal with the sad truth that my lungs may be rejecting.
After over a week in the hospital and a 5 day medical induced coma, painfully slow rehabilitation, and finally accepting that my lungs were dying, I felt that I was a very different girl on the West Campus bus Monday. I was ready to be productive again though. I missed having my mind occupied by things non-health related. And I knew that the first time I got a good grade on a test, it would be incredibly satisfying. However, once I got to my building, I stood outside and totally froze. I slid along the side and sat, terrified. I could not go inside. Part of me felt sick and like I was going to die. Part of me wanted to get back on the bus and go home, part of me wanted to slap myself back into sanity. But all of me was completely unable to move in any direction. I was having a panic attack.
I don't know what I was scared of. I've been to class in the same building, same classroom since I was a freshman. It wasn't an astrophysics class. Why couldn't I do this? I sat for over ten minutes outside the building just breathing and trying to picture how good it would feel going back home after class was dismissed. And I dreaded the idea of writing my professor, who was so gracious to let me into an already full class, and tell him I missed the first day cause I had a freak out. So I moved inside the building to the stairs. And I sat. For about another 5 minutes, I talked myself off this mental cliff I was dangling from. A few minutes later, I coaxed myself onto the elevator. Once in the front of the classroom door, I sat a few more minutes until the feeling of flush left my face and I no longer felt like vomiting. Then, only 2 minutes late, I crept inside. Immediately, we began talking and working with groups on case studies. We were discussing everything from osteoporosis to fad diets to H1N1. I knew this stuff. I immediately felt good again. I walked out of class and once I got home to my apartment, I was emotionally exhausted, but so proud to have overcome a mental breakdown.
Throughout all I have dealt with in life, I can truly say this is the first time that I am battling every day to keep my mental health intact. My mind and body are telling me to stay melancholy, stay in bed, don't answer your phone, find excuses not to go out. It feels like there is a different person inside of me. Every day has become a conscious effort to not let the disease that is rampant in my physical body migrate into my mental state as well. On the days that I don't fight, I stay blah. Not good, not bad. I sit, watch hours of Food Network, read a few pages of a book, cuddle with Abel, and let my nighttime meds just take me away. But on the days that I do force myself to get out, shower, run errands, go out with friends, I always feel better as I'm drifting to sleep. I need to keep reminding myself of that. Keep fighting in every capacity.
Ever since New Years, I've been thinking about when I die. I know, it's morose. But it is possible that these next several months or years could be my last. Being ignorant about my odds when I was 12 was one thing. Now I'm 22 and I need to look at my situation truthfully. When it rang midnight and we all cheered and kissed, I felt a sigh of relief. Now, if I lose this battle, my tombstone will read 1988-2011 as opposed to 1988-2010. If I make it to my birthday (which I fully plan to. I have to host a bachelorette party and be a maid of honor that month!),they can say "She was 23" in my eulogy. While on the outside it all sounds so depressing, there is a bigger thing I want to get across. If I did start giving in to all my sadness and anxiety and fear of the unknown, am I really still living? If I curled up in bed from now on, spent my days and nights watching HBO and never leaving my little apartment, if I let this disease just take its course and never asked for a smidgen of my normal life back, then I don't want my tombstone to say 2011. I would want it so say April 27, 1988 - July 5, 2010, the day I began feeling short of breath and my life slipped away.
However, if I keep myself going and continue to be the good daughter, good sister, articulate thinker, and loyal friend that I was before my rejection began last summer, then I can proudly say I LIVED till the day I died. As corny as it sounds, that is my new goal. The last thing I want is to feel like I was living until 22 and dying for the rest of the time after that. This disease may take me, but if it does, I want to go out saying that I participated in this world until my last day.
God willing, I become better. And I can look back on these days a long time from now. I won't have regrets that I wasted what should be some of the best years of my life overcome hopelessness. And if a year from now I get hit by a bus and killed, I want my tombstone to say April 27 1988 - January 29 2012... and she lived every freaking minute of it.