7 Things You Should Know About Living With Cystic Fibrosis And Balancing A Life In College

7 Things You Should Know About Living With Cystic Fibrosis And Balancing A Life In College

There are lots of days, my best days, where I'm just tired all the time.
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Cystic Fibrosis is a genetic disease that causes a build-up of mucus in the lungs and can lead to severe respiratory problems. It is estimated that 30,000 Americans suffer from the disease, and Brianna Settlemyer is one such citizen kind of enough to grant me an interview about living with CF.

1. What is something you wish people understood about your disease?

I wish people understood that just because you can’t see my disease doesn’t make it any less real for me. There are lots of days, my best days, where I'm just tired all the time. Breathing is something no one thinks about doing and so it’s hard on your body when there’s something going on that makes it harder for you.

2. How can those around you best support you?

I think the best way my friends and family can support me is to just listen when I want to be negative or I’m feeling down. I wish that they could understand that this is hard for me, not only because I’m going through this, but because I know that everyone else in my life is going through this with me.

3. What's the hardest thing about living with CF?

When I was a teenager and healthy and really learning about my disease, I knew there was a good chance I was going to become sicker and my body would get weaker and that life was going to get harder for me. I always knew it was just a matter of time. Now that I’m here I feel like there was more I could’ve done to stay healthier longer. But honestly, the hardest thing about having any kind of chronic illness or lifelong disease is maintaining that balance of normalcy you want so badly.

4. When did you first realize your life would be different than those without CF?

The first time I realized my life was going to be different was in middle school.

When you really start going through puberty and making new friends and everyone’s getting into sports and clubs. I realized many things that were hard for me to accept: 1) Because I had such a hard time gaining weight and growing in all the right places keeping up with all the other girls around me I knew I was going to be hard on myself about the way I looked for a long time. 2) I knew I would never do any kind of sports because I just wouldn’t be able to keep up with everyone and I didn’t want any coaches giving my special treatment. 3) I'd have to get used to having sleepovers and hanging out with friends and having to bring along my breathing treatment machines, my medications, and all my pills with me. I’d have to start telling my friends what was wrong with me, too.

5. Have you lived a different life than you would have without CF? How have you lived differently, if yes?

Although I’ve had a good life so far and there are not too many things I regret doing. I still think I’ve lived too carefully and let my insecurities about my disease hold me back too many times. I think if I didn’t have CF I’d have done high school differently for sure, but I think we all would have knowing what we know now in the real world.

6. How do you maintain a positive attitude about your diagnosis?

I am positive about my disease because I have to be, being sad and angry all the time isn’t going to make me better. In fact, that’s just going to make it harder for me to see that on the other side of this..after the oxygen tanks, and the leave of absence from work, and being trapped at home for several weeks...after the hospital visits that felt incredibly lonely and all the pains and aches and pills and the weekly doctor appointments.

I may actually get a new pair of lungs and I will get to live freely once again and do all the things I’ve been waiting to be healthy for. My lungs won’t have the disease anymore and even though I never wanted to be in this place, I’m here and now I have an opportunity to live a better life. I stay positive because no one ever gets anything truly amazing done by being negative.

7. What is your main goal in life?

My main goal in life is to just be happy and know while I’m living this life that I am happy. I want to enjoy the simple things and the incredible ones. I want to live long enough to help people, however I can. I want to give back to my family. I want to expand my thinking and observe other cultures. I just don’t want to look back at the end of it and wonder if I could have fought harder to be happier.

*Cystic Fibrosis has very serious consequences and Bri is currently facing the possibility of a lung transplant. For more on Bri's story and to help, you can find her gofundme here.

Cover Image Credit: Brianna Settlemyer

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Bailey Posted A Racist Tweet, But That Does NOT Mean She Deserves To Be Fat Shamed

As a certified racist, does she deserve to be fat shamed?
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This morning, I was scrolling though my phone, rotating between Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Snapchat again, ignoring everyone's snaps but going through all the Snapchat subscription stories before stumbling on a Daily Mail article that piqued my interest. The article was one about a teen, Bailey, who was bullied for her figure, as seen on the snap below and the text exchange between Bailey and her mother, in which she begged for a change of clothes because people were making fun of her and taking pictures.

Like all viral things, quickly after her text pictures and harassing snaps surfaced, people internet stalked her social media. But, after some digging, it was found that Bailey had tweeted some racist remark.

Now, some are saying that because Bailey was clearly racist, she is undeserving of empathy and deserves to be fat-shamed. But does she? All humans, no matter how we try, are prejudiced in one way or another. If you can honestly tell me that you treat everyone with an equal amount of respect after a brief first impression, regardless of the state of their physical hygiene or the words that come out of their mouth, either you're a liar, or you're actually God. Yes, she tweeted some racist stuff. But does that mean that all hate she receives in all aspects of her life are justified?

On the other hand, Bailey was racist. And what comes around goes around. There was one user on Twitter who pointed out that as a racist, Bailey was a bully herself. And, quite honestly, everyone loves the downfall of the bully. The moment the bullies' victims stop cowering from fear and discover that they, too, have claws is the moment when the onlookers turn the tables and start jeering the bully instead. This is the moment the bully completely and utterly breaks, feeling the pain of their victims for the first time, and for the victims, the bully's demise is satisfying to watch.

While we'd all like to believe that the ideal is somewhere in between, in a happy medium where her racism is penalized but she also gets sympathy for being fat shamed, the reality is that the ideal is to be entirely empathetic. Help her through her tough time, with no backlash.

Bullies bully to dominate and to feel powerful. If we tell her that she's undeserving of any good in life because she tweeted some racist stuff, she will feel stifled and insignificant and awful. Maybe she'll also want to make someone else to feel as awful as she did for some random physical characteristic she has. Maybe, we might dehumanize her to the point where we feel that she's undeserving of anything, and she might forget the preciousness of life. Either one of the outcomes is unpleasant and disturbing and will not promote healthy tendencies within a person.

Instead, we should make her feel supported. We all have bad traits about ourselves, but they shouldn't define us. Maybe, through this experience, she'll realize how it feels to be prejudiced against based off physical characteristics. After all, it is our lowest points, our most desperate points in life, that provide us with another perspective to use while evaluating the world and everyone in it.

Cover Image Credit: Twitter / Bailey

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Dear Insomniacs, There Is A Trick To The Trade, Allow Me To Help

Catch some Z's the right way.

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I've never stayed up past 12 a.m. on a daily basis. Starting college, I didn't realize how much studying is required for me to keep up with the lectures that I would stay in the library until 2 a.m. without noticing how much time has gone by. Clearly not healthy, I knew I had to try to gradually sleep early. I say gradually because, on days where I force my self to sleep by 12, I lie awake until 2 or 3, the time that my body is used to sleeping by. So gradually getting back to 12, I'll be able to get the ideal eight hours of sleep I need.

I don't understand how people pull all-nighters, especially on a school day. The one time I did for a Latin Convention project, I felt like I was literally dying from exhaustion. For those night-owls, here are some tips I've acquired throughout the years.

1. Drink tea — decaf, of course

Green tea has the amino acid L-theanine which naturally reduces stress and improves the length and quality of sleep. I typically only drink organic green tea. It relaxes me when the hot liquid goes down my throat, especially in the winter. I fall asleep pretty quickly afterward. I would also try Yogi Bedtime tea.

2. Set timers

I lose track of time quite easily when I'm studying. Set reminders/alarms to eat, take a break and go to sleep. Fortunately, there's a bedtime app on iPhones installed to keep track of your sleep cycle and plenty of apps out there to do the same.

3. Get your exercise in

Try to go to the gym every day. I find that on days that I go to the gym, I sleep earlier and better, probably because I'm just tired. It's also a great way to release any stress that your mind and body may have. Stretch into yoga and let your heart pump your blood for better circulation.

4. #SelfCare #SkinCare

I absolutely love skin care. I have oily, acne-prone skin so I'm very picky about what I apply to my face. I love the feeling of cool masks and the soothing fragrance they have. Lay down on your bed with a sheet mask on and think happy thoughts.

5. Get a massage

I often feel stiff and experience back and shoulder pain which makes sleeping uncomfortable at times or simply takes much longer to fall asleep. It's definitely worth going to a masseuse, sitting down on a massage chair, or getting a friend to massage your back, especially since the most tension tends to be upon your shoulders and back when we carry our backpacks and sit through classes the majority of the day.

6. ASMR

According to the National Sleep Foundation, ASMR, autonomous sensory meridian response, describes "a feeling of euphoric tingling and relaxation that can come over someone when he or she watches certain videos or hears certain sounds." Many of these videos are quiet, focusing on everyday sounds that we often do not notice which end up being quite calming. I discovered ASMR over the summer and found them interesting and effective for me such as tapping sounds. However, I DO NOT like eating/mouth sounds. Ew.

7. Go to bed with a good dream in mind

Close your eyes and think of something or someone that you love. Picture yourself where you want to be, somewhere where you will be stress-free with the people you want to be and let yourself dream of that place. I fall asleep to dreams of my family vacationing together, a job that I love, spending time with laughing babies, starting a clinic in Bangladesh, and all the hopes I want to accomplish in my lifetime. It's peaceful to dream of good things. Let yourself float into your fantasies.

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