When I started school at McGill University in 2016, I expected to graduate and make a name for myself on campus. I did not expect to get sick, become suicidal, and question my self-worth.
In my second month at university, I ended up in the ER for a week. It was bizarre and unexpected. I had symptoms that lined up with someone who had a severe allergy attack. But I did and still do not have severe allergies. The doctors did not know what to do, so they left me to my devices for over a year before I left Montreal.
It feels like part of me died when I first was hospitalized.
I have not felt physically the same since then. This, unfortunately, makes sense. It turns out that I developed an inflammatory autoimmune disorder called vasculitis. This inflammation causes me to have painful hives, numbness, and anaphylaxis like episodes that I never experienced before I turned 18 and a half.
My experience with Montreal hospitals wrecked who I am emotionally. I’m not strong enough to be okay when doctor after doctor called me a hypochondriac after they could not find which medical condition made me sick.
I never pictured that I would have left university. My high school self would have judged me now, as I could not see a good reason why anyone would leave university. I would have called myself lazy and not strong enough, not getting how hard it is to be sick. In a way, I am glad that part of me is gone.
Although I got diagnosed soon after I left university, which I needed to do, my self-worth was on the floor. I was not happy with the grades that I achieved while I was there. I had to rest for months to recover from a year of receiving no medical help, which felt like such an out of body experience.
Even when I had concussions in high school, I was achieving straight A’s and was involved in more extracurricular activities than I had time for.
I changed while at university, although I am afraid not for the better. I want to return to the person who I was before I got sick. The person who smiled all the time and was an overachiever.
But I’m afraid she got buried during my year in Montreal.
To be blunt, I’m not happy anymore.
I don’t know how to become happy again.
When people take photos of me now, I often get the critique that I look sad or lost. Well, I am both sad and lost, so that was a good analysis. I do not remember the last day in the past two years where I haven’t had some form of suicidal ideation. It’s scary to admit, but part of me wishes that I died or will die during a flare because I am not strong enough to live with a chronic illness.
I am searching for my new self, the new self who manages her illness well and is happy. But I’m lost right now and am struggling to find my way.
While I will never be the same person that I was before I got sick, I am trying to not give up hope that I will become a new, successful person.