Why This Year Isn’t Last Year

Time to Pull Out the Textbooks Again...
Time to pull out the textbooks again…

This week, I’ll be starting my third year of college. While this may not seem like a big deal, to me, it feels like a miracle, considering how sick I was just a couple months ago.

I’ve been doing very well ever since my tonsillectomy. However, it’s one thing to be well while resting at home and taking it easy; it’s another to stay well while keeping up with academics and everything else that goes along with college. My remaining symptoms could interfere tremendously with school work: difficulty concentrating, reading comprehension issues, task inflexibility, and some other executive function problems. How can anyone do college with these symptoms?

Sometimes, I still feel bad about myself for having such a hard time doing the simplest things—just getting ready for bed and planning the next day can be an ordeal because of my cognitive symptoms. Sometimes, I think they’ll never go away, because they’ve been with me for the past nine years with no break. Is this always how I’m going to have to live? How long can I keep pushing past these obstacles?

As I’ve been packing and unpacking my things this week and making the journey back to school, I’ve been remembering how terribly difficult the last school year was with all of the cognitive symptoms, frequent flares, depression, panic attacks, and bad OCD.

I’ve also been remembering how exhausting my first year of college was, when I tried to function and go to class but instead spent the majority of each day trying (and failing) to stay awake…  After as much as twenty hours of sleep.

This week, I’ve been remembering all of the lonely nights during these last two years of college when I’ve crumpled into a bawling heap on my dorm room floor, wishing I hadn’t decided to stay in school while so ill.

College, so far, has been anything but what I dreamed it would be. But now, I’m beginning to hope that this year will be different.

Today, I’m much better than I was even a few months ago, so I’m choosing to believe that this year is not last year—everything won’t be miserable this time. This year, instead of putting all of my limited effort into earning straight A’s, I can start learning to thrive in all areas of my life. This year, I can finally enjoy my college experience.  This year, I can pursue the dreams my illness tried to take away.

I don’t know how I’ve made it through two years of college with PANS and a 3.96 GPA, and I don’t know how much longer I’ll have to continue working around my cognitive issues, but I do know that this is a new year and a new chance. I just have to let go of the pain of the past and the anxiety of the future and hold onto the opportunities I have now as the (mostly) healthy person I am.

4 thoughts on “Why This Year Isn’t Last Year

  1. Oh, this is SO NOT LAST YEAR! Having a son who dealt with severe OCD throughout college, I have just an inkling of what you’ve had to deal with. I’m full of hope for you this year and wish you all the best!! You are a remarkably courageous and determined young woman!

    1. Thank you so much, Janet! Yes, this is going to be a much better year… I think dealing with any kind of OCD (caused by PANS or not) and going through college takes a tremendous amount of determination… I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of your book soon and hearing more of your story. 🙂

  2. You go girl!!! Thinking of you. I have a son that will be in college next year. I believe he has PANS. He is refusing to get the test (Cunninghams) won’t allow us in his life. I know he is functioning but like you explained, how hard it must be for him on a day to day basis. He is alone in this world and that makes me so sad.

    1. Thank you, Kim! I’m sorry your son is struggling so much and not allowing you into his life. That must be so hard for you. Have you talked with a PANS specialist yet? Sometimes they can help even if the patient is uncooperative, but it depends on the situation… I wish you all the best of healing and that your son might go through college in a healthier state.

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