I’m a soon-to-be graduate from Bellevue University while working two jobs to pay the bills (Disney and Lyft). I deal with two chronic illnesses where if one isn’t acting up, the other one is!
I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 2015, but I had symptoms of the condition a year before the diagnosis. The urgency to use the restroom, high amounts of pain, being afraid to eat anything, and not absorbing enough nutrients. I thought it was just another GI issue that “ran in my family” and didn’t think twice about it until I had a procedure done from my colorectal surgeon that gave me a phone number and address to a GI specialist and said to see him the next day if I could! If it wasn’t for him (and finding the right doctors at the right time, I would be missing 1/3 of my large intestines!
I was diagnosed with clinical depression since I was in high school. However, I knew that something wasn’t right with the diagnosis and couldn’t find anyone with previous health insurance policies. When Disney offered additional mental health coverages and getting a wake up call, I found a therapist that gave me the diagnosis (and putting the puzzle pieces together of what was going on in my mind) and helped me find a psychiatrist to find a good medication plan with my therapy.
My big support came from Aaron (my fiancé). If it wasn’t for him encouraging me to better myself (physical, mental, personal, etc.), I wouldn’t have grown as much as I have in the past few years. He also has been my advocate when I wasn’t able to for myself for medical appointments, treatments, medications, etc.
In my free time I like to read, write in my journals, and of course writing letters to my pen pals. I also (when my health comes back) like to be a gym rat and workout and research health material. Some future goals is to find that “career, professional” job, get my strength back to return to running and swimming (be back on the masters swim team and complete a marathon) and be able to travel all over the world!
With all the challenges, I’ve learned to become resilient and keep focusing on the main goal (such as finishing my undergraduate degree and focus on staying healthy). My advice to someone is to not only take care of yourself (the saying is true: If you can’t do it yourself, who else can?) and focus on what you want to accomplish. Even if it takes you extra time than others, the main thing that it’s not a sprint to the finish but a marathon to accomplish. Be gentle with yourself and know it is ok to fail as long as you learn from your mistakes. And above all: Don’t be afraid to speak up!