I May Not Seem Like Myself, But That's Because It's Hard To Keep Smiling Through The Pain

I May Not Seem Like Myself, But That's Because It's Hard To Keep Smiling Through The Pain

No one is as perfect as they seem. You lose yourself in situations and find yourself in others.
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Things have happened to me that made me question why this is my life. I have been through things that have changed my outlook on everything. A person is not always as strong as they make themselves look. And while I know situations can lead me to not acting like myself, I know that it will all be okay.

I have been in situations that have mentally and physically drained me to where I do not want to fight anymore. I have encountered people who changed me for the worst and some for the better. I have also realized that some situations are better to be left alone.

Not everyone is who you think they are or even who you want them to be at the end of the day. But one thing I have noticed is that even though I cannot change a person, I can change myself.

That may be doing things differently than what I have done in the past. Going on crazy adventures that are planned in a days notice. Getting tattoos because it helps me relieve my stress. Dancing and singing in my room because no one can see me. Going out with friends when I would rather stay in. And overall, stepping outside of my comfort zone.

But another thing I have realized is that I can only put on a strong front for so long until I break. No one is perfect even when they try so hard to make it seem like they are. Everyone has their breaking points.

One smile can hide so many demons. A laugh can cover up the fact that you are dying inside. Posting pictures on social media can hide that you are sitting in your room because you do not have the energy to deal with the world today. Making plans but then having anxiety about if they will actually go through. Being with people sounds good because it helps you feel like you are not alone when you think you are.

There are days where I have to force myself to get out of bed because I know if I had the choice, I would lay there all day. I get ready in the morning because it helps me feel that I am put together. I keep myself busy so I can avoid overthinking situations. Being scared to ask for help because I do not know how a person will respond.

I bottle up my emotions because I would rather deal with them myself, than put that burden on someone else. I like to deal with things one day at a time because the future scares me. I try to take on situations on my own until there is no way possible that I can anymore. I do not trust people easily because so many people have hurt me in the past.

I deal with whatever is thrown my way at my own pace and the best way I know how to... and while I know this can lead to me not being myself, one day everything will be okay.

Cover Image Credit: EveryPixel

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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9:51 PM

A poem about struggling with anxiety, especially during a creative process like writing

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Roses are red,
But violets aren't blue
And in about twelve hours this poem is due.

So I ponder and think,
And hope and pray
That the words I need will come to stay.

But my mind says no,
Your writing sucks, start again
Or better yet, don't even bother to begin.

It tells me to give up,
That my words aren't "right"
Stop now, your verse is weak-they'll hate it on sight.

Instead of stopping, my pen keeps going
And the ink flows on
For it knows I have something worth showing,
So girl, write on.

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