I Graduated College with PANS, Lyme, and…. Highest Honors!

This weekend, I’ve defied all odds; I’ve done what never should’ve been possible…

I graduated from college, Summa Cum Laude… While in a long-standing battle with PANS and Lyme Disease!

When I was first diagnosed, it felt like my life was a tragedy, and PANS was the ending.  I was sure that it had completely ruined me, and pursuing my dreams seemed inconceivable…

If you’d told me as a twelve-year-old struggling through middle school that I’d someday go to a top college, I never would’ve believed you.

If you’d told me at nineteen, as PANS had taken away my whole personality and cognitive capacities and my ability to do any school, that I would recover and complete one of the most difficult programs in the college, I would’ve laughed and said that was impossible.

And if you’d told me two months ago, as I was completely crippled by depression, had lost my reasoning abilities, and was even beginning to have psychotic symptoms… If you’d told me that IV steroid treatment would make me well enough to turn the semester around, get straight-A’s, and then graduate with Highest Honors as a result, I would’ve fainted in complete shock.

It’s been a very long and difficult journey to get my degree, and I’ve suffered tremendously along the way at times, but you know what?  I’ve made it!

Somehow, despite my illnesses, I’ve taken advantage of every opportunity my school has had to offer over the last four years, and I’ve received national recognition for my work. I can honestly say that, thanks to treatment, PANS and Lyme ultimately haven’t stopped me from doing anything I’ve wanted to do in my life.

I’m not telling you these things because I need validation—I’m divulging my accomplishments because many of you need hope.

I’m sharing this moment to give encouragement to all the kids and teens with PANS who are out there wondering if they’ll ever be able to shoot for their dreams—or if they’ll even be able to dream of anything at all.

I’m sharing for all the parents afraid that their PANS children won’t be able to have good, productive lives.

I’m sharing because ignorant and skeptical doctors need to know that those of us with PANS, who have been mislabeled as hopeless psychiatric cases, can get better when given appropriate treatments.

Readers, followers, and friends, I’m showing and telling you today that life after PANS, Lyme, and autoimmune encephalitis is possible. It won’t be easy, and it may not be what you expect, but yes, with treatment, you can go on and live!

Nevertheless, my second chance at life and my graduation happened only because I was correctly diagnosed with PANS and was able to get the right treatments. This wasn’t just a matter of willpower—it was a gift that I was able to find treatments that helped me enough that I could dare to stay in school. I’ll be forever grateful, so I want to do all I can to raise awareness and allow others to experience this amazing gift of healing!

If you have PANS or Lyme, and you have a dream… Don’t give up.  Your dreams may change to some extent, and you may not reach them in the way or the time-frame you imagined, but you can still have a beautiful life.

PANS doesn’t have to be the end of the story.


I’m Writing a Book!

Now that I’ve graduated, I want to help along anyone else out there with PANS or Lyme or another chronic illness who wants to go to college…

So I’ve started a book detailing the methods and strategies I used that let me graduate with a 3.95 GPA while fighting PANS/Lyme.  It’s part how-to guide, with plenty of practical tips on everything from what to do in high school to make college easier, to managing flares while away from home, to taking care of your own dorm/apartment. It’s also part memoir, sharing anecdotes of how I applied the tips for myself while in school.

What would you like to see me discuss in my book? Do you have any particular suggestions? Do you have questions about my experience?  I want this book to be useful to you, so I’d love to have your input.  Please comment below, or feel free to send me a private message on my Contact page!


What About This Blog?

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to all of you who have read my blog and encouraged me over these last three years of blogging and fighting PANS.  Your words of support have meant the world to me and have sometimes been the difference between a terrible day and the best day of a week.

Now that I’m done with school, it’s a new season for The Dreaming Panda.  Don’t worry—I’m not going anywhere.  If anything, I hope I’ll post even more consistently, and maybe I’ll share pieces of my books along the way.

I also suspect that there will be plenty of new adventures as I rest and recover here at home, and as I pursue new treatments.  I plan to write about every step of the way, so I hope you’ll stick around!

For more about my time in college with PANS, check out these useful posts:

Do These 7 PANS Symptoms Make College Impossible?

PANS & College Part 1: Managing Academics

33 thoughts on “I Graduated College with PANS, Lyme, and…. Highest Honors!

  1. Wow, what an accomplishment! I was going into my third year of university when my illness struck (seems to be a PANDAS/PANS-like illness, potentially precipitated by tickborne illness) and unfortunately didn’t finish. You’re strong for having done so well even in the face of health setbacks; kudos!


  2. You are the light at the end of a very long, dark tunnel for so many of us on this journey. Thank you for your willingness to share so much of yourself and for being the very spacial person that you are. Can’t wait for the next “chapter” in your journey. I have a hunch that Summa Cum Laude is only the beginning! ❤️


  3. CONGRATULATIONS just doesn’t seem enough…..you have had quite the journey so far but have risen above and beyond every adversity that came your way, I am so proud of you and look forward to seeing where this next chapter takes you……starting with your book. Awesome!!


  4. I am in tears reading your blog. As I sit and watch my own child struggle your story brought tears of hope. Congratulations and thank you so much for sharing. NEVER STOP DREAMING!


  5. Incredible achievement! You have done more than survive, although you had to do plenty of that, too. Your book sounds fantastic! We need some hope around here.


  6. Seriously…WOW! What an amaaaaazing victory! Your story/your life–such gifts! I’m celebrating your graduation, AND how spot-on you are about what this means for your readers, followers, friends (& fans), and that still-so-needy medical community out there. YES for the hope, YES for the kids’ imaginations, and YES for the parents, like me. I can’t wait for the kid in my life to read your announcement! A gift just waiting to be opened! It’ll be especially meaningful given some flickering of old symptoms yesterday. HOPE + ASSURANCES! I’m also thrilled to read that we’ll soon be reading your new BOOK. (I actually got to edit a book a few years ago that I describe exactly the same–a “how to”/memoir! But the “how to” with you is worth so much MORE!!! As is your memoir, I’m sure.) God bless all of your new chapters ahead. (And really…Summa Cum Laude…& 3.95?!! More wows….WOW….repeating…)
    Your Friend, Follower, & Fan, & mother of one of those, too.


    1. Thank you so much, Forword Writer, for following along on this journey over the last few years, and for all your prayers and words of encouragement. It’s touching that this latest success means so much to you and your kid. 🙂 Thanks again, and wishing you both all the best!


Leave a Reply to wherearemypillows Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s