Today I took an organic chemistry exam without having a panic attack for the first time this year.
For some reason, my body didn't heat up, my heart didn't start pounding, and nausea didn't flow throughout. As a result, the section that lists my exam grades showed an A for the first time. I felt good because I performed well, but also disheartened because it was a reminder of how much my anxiety and other chronic conditions hold me back. This compelled me to reflect on the fact that despite becoming chronically ill and having more barriers in my life than before, my goals and desires have not changed at all. I believe this is the case for many young adults with chronic conditions. And that is exactly why I wish people fought harder for us; I wish people fought harder for better care, better treatments, better accommodations at higher education levels, and better advocacy so fewer young adults have to give up on what they love because of something out of their control.
I am terrified. I am terrified all the time of having to give up on my goals due to the unpredictable nature of my chronic conditions. It has been three years, but I still can't predict my flares, but I can predict that every single time they occur, I will worry they will last forever. I don't want to feel this way, I don't deserve to. Nobody deserves to. I listened to a talk the other day about how fibromyalgia research is so behind- mainly because it affects women and sexism still plagues every aspect of our society- and a lot of people are living through the consequences of that.
I'm writing this to mainly let you know that I am scared. I am scared of my body. I am scared of the opportunities I will have to forgo or be denied because of my body. I don't know what my fear means to you- maybe it will inspire you to research chronic conditions more, maybe it will compel you to recognize inequalities, maybe it will encourage you to volunteer, maybe it won't do anything at all, but I hope it helps you realize that there's a population of young adults with tremendous potential that feels unheard and scared. If better care and resources are provided to the disabled community and young invisible, more of us will join the workplace and work towards our dreams- and that's a better society for all.
It may sound cheesy, but our bodies may be disabled, but our souls are not. We have dreams, desires, goals, thoughts, ideas, solutions, emotions, etc- fight for us, and we'll change the world.