[Trigger warning: this post contains discussions of personal experiences with suicidal thoughts and misconceptions. If you’re in an emergency, please call the National Suicide Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or dial 911.]
No one needs to know, I told myself as I sat frozen, staring at my phone. I don’t need to call him, I tried to convince myself. I remembered how I promised I would if the thoughts came back, yet as soon as I pulled up my doctor’s number, I set my phone back down and started talking myself out of the call once more. Continue reading “Why These Myths About Suicide Are So Harmful”
Today is World Encephalitis Day, and I want to take a moment to shed some light on a certain controversy within the PANS and encephalitis communities:
Is PANS a form of autoimmune encephalitis, or is it something else?
Back in 2014, in a matter of weeks, I went from being a typical college student earning straight-A’s to a psychiatric cripple who was afraid to eat and didn’t want to exist anymore. I also lost the ability to walk, was overcome with constant involuntary movements, and couldn’t stay awake for more than a few minutes at a time.
How could a person develop sudden-onset Tourette’s, narcolepsy, bipolar symptoms, and severe coordination problems simultaneously in isolation from each other?
Continue reading “Why Autoimmune Encephalitis Doctors Need to Stop Ignoring PANS”
As I opened my eyes to the morning sunlight peeking through my blinds, for a feel blissful seconds, I forgot the many reasons I shouldn’t feel as calm as I did in that moment. But not a minute later, it all came rushing back, and my stomach did a somersault.
I rolled over and saw a missed call from my infusion pharmacy, and all at once I remembered the horrible quandary I’m in. I remembered the unfortunate events that led to it. And worst of all, I remembered that losing access to monthly IVIG treatments could mean I was on the verge of a relapse that would make me lose my mind. Continue reading “The Questions No One Should Have to Ask: Life on the Verge of Relapse”
I have a disability.
I never thought those four words would describe me, especially at twenty-three, but in my first few days as a graduate student, they’ve become a heavy truth I have no choice but to accept—and at the same time, they’ve turned into a statement of empowerment.
Continue reading “8 Essentials for University Success with a Disability: How to Build a Bulletproof Support System”
In the last couple of months, I’ve had a breakthrough in my recovery. After being mostly couch-bound since January, I’m now able to run. And my cognitive abilities have improved so much that I just finished a small project. So many things I’ve hoped for have become reality!
I thought I’d feel nothing but elation if I ever got back to this point, but instead, now that I’m here…
I’ve found a dark side that no one wants to talk about.
Continue reading “When Getting Better Hurts More Than Staying Sick: The Paradox of Recovery”
For the last eleven years of being sick, time has been my enemy.
The first sign I was ill was that I started moving in slow-motion—I lost awareness of time passing. Doctors thought it was late-onset Attention-Deficit Disorder. Instead, as I’d find out eight years later, my immune system was attacking my brain.
Continue reading “The Part of PANS/Encephalitis Recovery We Don’t Talk About”
These days, when friends ask how I am, I tell them I’m fantastic—and for a moment, I almost believe it.
I tell them about my new projects. I tell them about grad school in the fall. I tell them about a professional development program this summer. When I talk about everything I’m doing, I fool everyone—even myself—into thinking I’m healthy. Continue reading “Why I’m Doing Better Than I Think”
Well, after dreading it and hoping and praying it wouldn’t happen again, I’ve just had another bad flare.
On my way to class last week, I overheard someone say she had Strep throat.
No. I can’t flare again, I thought to myself. It’s not going to happen. I’m still on antibiotics. I’ve had two IVIGs. I should have plenty of good antibodies if I’m exposed. I’ll be fine…
But then, when I got to class and saw one of my lab mates who hadn’t been around in a few days, I asked where he’d been—and immediately wished I hadn’t:
“Oh, I had strep throat. It was a really bad one!” Continue reading “I Don’t Know Anymore”