So many of us hide our health issues, I know I did for years. All through High School all of my teachers and peers just thought I was a slacker, skipping school for fun. A thug who got in fights and got suspended all the time. Nobody ever bothered to figure out why I did those things, why I was so angry all the time and sad; why I couldn’t look anyone in the eye (due to my anxiety).
However I suppose I can’t really blame them, I mean… How can I right? I was the one that never said anything to the counselors or teachers or even told a friend. It took me years until I finally came forward about my illness. I still remember the night I told my best friends, we were at a fraternity party at the University of Washington when I was 19, all of us were utterly toasted and I had just spent an hour in the bathroom puking my guts out. My friend Lisa wouldn’t stop asking what was wrong and finally I told her, her boyfriend and my other best friend. I still remember her giving me a hug while I was crying and telling me it was all going to be ok. Incidentally almost a year later she was my first visitor in the hospital (besides my parents of course). We don’t talk anymore but I’ll never forget the people that were there for me in the past.
Anyway the experience that I’d really like to mention is a much more practical one, last year I had just gotten back into school (starting Winter Quarter after about 2-3 years away dealing with my illness). I thought I was ready but I kept getting hospitalized, I was supposed to be the group leader for a big project in my English 235 class (which was a fairly hard class), I was also doing Full Time Real Estate working about 60-70 hours a week. It was worth it, I kept straight A’s and sold 2 houses in 3 months. However I could not have done so without a friend finding out about my illness.
I still remember I had been hospitalized for the 4th time that quarter and apparently my group was doing a group vote as to whether to drop me from the group for not pulling my weight (they had already outvoted me as leader due to the fact that I had missed so much school). Luckily my friend, a girl I’d known for years had me on Facebook unlike my fellow group members (remember this was WAAAAAAY before I was an activist); she told them before they voted me out to the professor that I was in the Emergency Room, showed em a picture and everything. The new group leader (when I came back to school) then apologized for not understanding what I was going through, and said he wished that I’d been comfortable enough to be honest with him about what I was suffering. He told me to just let him and the group know what was going on and that they’d “Cover my back” regardless of missing school because they knew I wasn’t just slacking, what I was dealing with was very serious and real. I swore from that moment on to be more honest about what was happening. I wasn’t going to suffer in silence anymore!
Interestingly enough, the group leader though he had taken my former position became one of my best friends. We had dinner just a few days ago since he’s back in town from University, turned out we had far more in common than I thought. It just goes to show you why you have to be honest about what’s happening, it may be hard but it’s so worth it!