Life is hard. University is hard. Like super hard. Whether it’s your first or third year of an undergraduate degree, your masters degree or your PhD. This even applies to college too. This especially counts for being in a workplace too because work is hard. EVERYTHING IN LIFE is hard *sometimes.
Edit… put an illness or disease in there and BAM it gets a whole lot more impossible.Oh hey hi here we go again, Olive is gonna talk about being broken again but HEY it’s a big deal and I want to express it and since this is my blog, its a pretty good platform.
SO I have coeliac disease. I also have an underactive thyroid and am on tablets for the rest of my life to try and control it. I am also anaemic. I have low blood pressure too but hey that’s no biggy anymore. It may sound like giving them names and being aware of them means I have it all under control and it’s all easy. Its not. Its soooooo not. So with coeliac disease I obviously have to avoid gluten like the plague as it has almost worse effects than just those boils and you know death and stuff. It sounds easy enough to just not eat gluten….it is when I cook for myself but I hate cooking and am lazy (I’m actually not but I’ll go into that in a moment) but whenever I step foot outside or into someone else’s kitchen, all hell breaks loose. FOR EXAMPLE the other week I had some fancy wine at a fancy Cambridge event and I almost passed out and had to sit on a bench outside my college for 45 minutes because I was too weak to walk home alone and wasn’t coherent enough to ask for help and to be walked home for half that time. When I got home, I curled into a ball and tried to ease my gut wrenching tummy pain (still feeling weak obvs because why not). WHY DID THIS HAPPEN!? BECAUSE THE WINE WAS AGED IN A BARREL THAT WAS SEALED WITH WHEAT FLOUR. How did I finally work out what happened? The blessed god google helped me out because some poor buggers had had it happen to them too. Wine is supposed to be gluten free but what they actually mean is cheap wine is. Fine by me, less money, less sickness.
My point is that just because you know what’s wrong, it doesn’t mean it’s fixed. I am on constant red alert for things that could legit poison me, from crumbs on a coffee table in a café to someone drinking from my glass who’s just had a beer. I even make my poor long-suffering boyfriend carry a mini mouthwash around with him now so I can kiss him after we’ve gone for dinner. So many little things that no one really thinks you have to worry about and then they don’t understand how you’re always sick. It’s hard to hide from the things that make you ill, they’re freaking everywhere.
Next up: hypothyroidism. So having an underactive thyroid means I take thyroxine every day. Because I take this, my thyroid has effectively gone on a long-term trip to Aslan’s land beyond the waves aka it is dead. SO I have to make sure I take my tablets every day. Sounds easy. It is easy. Until you have to get constant blood tests to check you’re actually taking the right dosage as it’s a super sensitive level needed. If I’m getting slightly too much I can’t sleep, despite being constantly exhausted, my heart aches and flutters, I get really faint all the time, especially if I get warm and I get old-overweight-man-puffed-out from walking two steps. Apparently you can also lose weight when your thyroid is overactive but typically I miss out on the only ‘good’ side effect. So then I lower my dose. Sweet. All is fine for a moment. Then I get another blood test because my nails are crumbling and I’m all dry skinned and reptilian and then BAM its underactive again and suddenly I’m sleeping 24/7, gaining weight (yeah I get THAT weight one), seriously bad depressive moods, shiver like I have frostbite when I step outside and my muscles hurt. AND THUS THE CYCLE BEGINS AGAIN! It’s never ending, for the rest of my life. You just hope the periods of you actually being on the right drug level last a long time, which they can do and it’s great!
Anaemia… pretty common so not really a biggy because most people have something like that. It links with the low blood pressure. It just means I feel faint all the time and have those Phoebe-from-friends headrush moments but they’re way not as pleasurable when they’re every time you move quickly. It also means, again, I’m always exhausted and puffed out. Now when I say some of the symptoms are ‘tiredness’ it just sounds like meh a bit groggy and dozy but nothing major. No. It legit means I need a nap every day, not just wanting one because I like being snuggly (I do too). Being puffed out doesn’t mean I’m unfit….it means something else in my body isn’t happy and I’m not really unhealthy and need to exercise more. In this situation, exercising would make me pass out almost instantly so is not desirable.
I’m not using this post to moan about my illnesses etc. That’s life, everyone has shit they have to deal with and bad things they have to get over. Mine is my health. I can deal with that. I have lovely friends and family and that’s the area my life is good. It’s a matter of balance, I couldn’t get it all. My point isn’t that it’s all about me either. I’m using my ailments as an example because I know about them best. My point IS that there are all these issues (some) people have that you can’t see. If someone with a chronic illness bails on your plans a lot, it isn’t out of laziness or poor planning. It’s 99% of the time an unexpected health issue that they gotta deal with. I slept through my lectures all week? Not laziness, my body stopped working a bit. I nearly passed out before we all went out to the pub so I couldn’t go? Not on purpose. Just because you think we’ve worked out our health issues and should be fine, doesn’t mean that’s how it works. The best thing about being healthy is when you get sick, you get better and back on top form. When you’ve got a disease or illness, you get better but constantly dip up and down into average health and sub-par health. It’s not all sunshine and roses because we had a hospital appointment two months ago and now we’re cured.
I am obviously not putting myself in a disease/chronic category alongside people who suffer with illnesses such as cancer or leukemia or awful ones that keep people housebound or hospital bound. My heart goes out to anyone suffering anything that terrible and I hope you find a path to better health soon. No, instead I’m talking about the people you see every day, the people you know have a bit of a health problem but look and act healthy, the people who say “nah I’m all fine now don’t worry!” when actually they’re sick to the bone of talking about their health in vague details because it makes them sound weak or pathetic when you’re not able to fully explain it all to someone. And you’re so tired of hearing yourself talk about being ill theres just no point trying.
So it’s extra hard trying to University at the same time as all this. I’m talking about Uni because that’s what I’m doing but anyone in full-time employment or school etc knows the same pain. When you’ve tried really hard to get your work in on time, despite numerous hospital visits and days where you’ve wanted to curl into a ball and hide forever. Then you don’t get the mark you want or someone says your idea in class was rubbish or something like that and suddenly you wonder if it’s all worth it. If you really need to bust your ass just to try and be present and how you have to fight so hard to get stuff done even when you feel like shit or are faint and can barely see the book you have to read for your seminar tomorrow. And at the same time you’re in a class full of healthy fighting fit folk who have no idea how tough it is for you just to be in class because you spent yesterday throwing up because someone in a restaurant didn’t understand that ‘gluten free’ meant NO gluten anywhere near it and thought you were just on a fad diet so it didn’t matter. And then you have to stumble home from class and make it to your room before you pass out. And then you have to try and finish an essay? It’s tough man.
I just want people to spare a thought before they brag about how smashed they got last night and how rubbish they feel but hurrah for them that they made it to class with a hangover….maybe don’t say that to someone with a chronic illness. Maybe don’t brag about an amazing grade for an essay you did no work for but your pal had to write while in a hospital bed. Maybe don’t mock someone for walking slow or being lazy when their legs feel like they’re made of fire and every step hurts. Maybe don’t call someone boring for not wanting to come for drinks or out for dinner when you don’t realise all they want to do is go home and cry because they feel sick and are SO sick of feeling that way. They already know they’re missing out…don’t make it worse. Maybe just think before you do those things.
Massive shout out to everyone who suffers from an illness, mental health disorder or disease or whatever that keeps you from living your life the way you want to. GO YOU for being you and being strong, even when you feel weak. Massive shout out to the hoards of really really supportive friends and family who totally get how shite it can be and never judge you and only every care for you and want to help you. You guys genuinely made everything so much easier and so much more worth it. Thank you. This isn’t a dig at anyone in any way. It’s so easy to think things are perfect in other peoples’ lives. This is just a post to say, maybe things aren’t so maybe be sensitive. You can’t see stuff going on inside someone’s body. You can’t see a mental illness. You can’t know the emotional struggle someone is facing. If we were all a bit more openly supportive, life would be a little bit warmer, don’t you think.
Peace and love my beautiful people