I’ve been told, more than once, that I’m pessimistic. I call it being a realist. The world can be beautiful in so many ways. In fact, as I write this, my niece is about to be born into this world. I don’t want her to believe her aunt is negative or sad. I just recognize that our society can be cruel, especially to those who are deemed “different.”
I expect the worst to happen in nearly every situation. Not because I want it to, but because I want to protect myself. That way, when the best happens, I’m surprised and excited. Maybe it’s not the best coping mechanism, but it’s mine, and I had to learn it from a young age.
My entire life, at 15-years-old, changed in a matter of a day—May 11th, 2007. This was the day I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL). As one would expect, the cancer sucked the life out of me. By this age, I was already having issues with depression and self-harm. The cancer, however, amplified these feelings within me, and brought out an anxiety component.
I underwent chemotherapy treatment for two and a half years. I lost all of my hair, graduated with a different class, and was unable to do things other teenagers my age could. I felt alone and sad, but mostly, I was angry. I was angry mostly at God for putting me through hell.
Fortunately, the cancer is gone and I am officially in remission. However, the affects of the cancer are still with me. Since I stopped treatment, I’ve made a lot of irrational decisions including two suicide attempts. After being in and out of Acadia Hospital during a recent 6-month time period, I was finally diagnosed with Bipolar Type II and put on lithium. It’s been a lifesaver.
I was so fortunate to have friends and family by my side during this dark time. However, I received a lot of criticism because of the decisions I was making, especially from some unexpected people. I was called selfish and self-absorbed. I had difficulty working because of anxiety. I couldn’t function like a normal human being, and I couldn’t control it. As much as I tried to explain that I wasn’t myself, not everyone accepted mental illness as a reasonable explanation for my behavior.
I’ve faced death three times, and for whatever reason I am still here. Like any normal person, I wonder why? What’s my purpose in life? I mean, clearly someone wants me here, whether it be God or not. Regardless, I’d like to believe that there is a plan for me, a greater good. Maybe nursing isn’t my calling, or maybe it is. Maybe my calling is to educate people about the stigma against mental health. I don’t know. But for now, here I am to share my story and experiences with everyone.