When I envisioned New Years Eve 2013 a few weeks ago, I thought I would be upstate celebrating. Instead, I can’t wait for this holiday season to be over with because the overall cheeriness of this time of year makes it even more difficult for my family and me to mourn the recent loss of my grandfather.
Looking back on this past year I can’t help and just wonder how my head truly has not combusted yet. I went into this year with a newly diagnosed auto immune disease, pyoderma gangrenosum, which required me to get steroid injections into my stoma site every couple of weeks. The steroids came with their own side effects that made leakage a nonstop worry for months.
In the middle of January while all of this was going on, an important man in my life, Brian, passed away.
By the end of March, the pyoderma gangrenosum was in remission and the side effects from the steroid injections were dissipating. However my anxiety was through the roof and unbeknownst to my doctor, I was having an adverse reaction to a medication that went undetected. It was only until one day something in me basically was telling me that there was something else at play here; that the way I was thinking, feeling, and acting was being impacted by another variable. I finally figured it out and within three days of stopping the medication was a completely different person.
However, my anxiety was not under control by any means and I continued to have panic attacks. One day I was in the car with my parents and started having one so my dad pulled over and my mom got in the back seat with me, held me closely, kept reminding me where I was and told me to look into her eyes. After I calmed down, my parents and I just kind of looked at each other and knew that I needed help of some kind.
In April of this year, I couldn’t bare the anxiety anymore and I needed something to change. Going to any regular hospital would be useless since my physical symptoms (incredibly high blood pressure, rapid heart rate, etc) all stemmed from the emotional pain I was in. So, I checked myself into Silver Hill Hospital where I was put with patients who were mostly going through alcohol withdrawal. It was the perfect place for me because it was all people who were going through their own issues and it was the first time I said in public that I had an ileostomy. I knew I would most likely never see any of these people again so I used it as a time to see how saying it out loud felt. It was an incredibly comfortable place where I had my own room, bathroom, shower and privacy even though the stay was short.
A couple months later in June I crewed Get Your Guts in Gear which is a 2 day bike ride that raises money for IBD and ostomy awareness, education and research. It was that weekend that I feel not only turned the year around for me, but my life as well. I met some amazing people that weekend that turned into incredible friends in a short amount of time that now feel like family. It is also through many of these friends that I connected with others who have been such a constant presence of love and support in my life since I met them.
Fast forward a bit to the beginning of September where I FINALLY “came out” and shared my story with the world!!!!!!!!!!! http://keepingthingsinsideisbadformyhealth.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/a-little-bit-about-me/
Then a week later, after the outpouring of love and support I received from so so many, I started this blog and by naming it “Keeping Things Inside Is Bad For My Health” I took a private pledge to only be myself from here on out. I needed to stop putting on an act. I needed to stop pretending. I needed to stop wasting energy on people who didn’t deserve me in their life. I just…needed to only focus on being myself.
And this blog and all of your support, encouragement, and love has been literally life altering for me. I am so thankful I have found this outlet.
As October turned into November, I began taking small steps towards thinking about the future. It has been really difficult but I am learning. “This year has been a year of lessons“is something my friend Amanda has repeatedly said to me. And oh how true that is.
This past Thursday, my grandfather passed away.
This year was a roller coaster and one right now that I am not even sure how I feel about. I think the most recent event is clouding my ability to see the good parts of this year and I do know there was so much good.
Cheers to a Happy, HEALTHY 2013