How I Got High On Life

How I Got High On Life

How I got high on life and how you can too.
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Walking down the streets of Manhattan, I began to cry, not even thinking twice about what others would think. Grinning ear to ear, tears of gratitude and bliss filled my eyes, as I noticed the beauty of the world around me and the freedom I felt inside. I thought "This is it! I'm free! This is how we're meant to live!"

All of my life I had been living as a prisoner inside my own body and mind, and I finally found the key to open the gate which was within me the whole time. Unfortunately, four months later, I found myself imprisoned once again. I'm not saying I'm miserable now, in fact, quite the contrary. That being said, no words can describe the ecstasy and total bliss those four months gave me.

Four months of no worries, no stress, just a constant flow of the ultimate love, trust, and freedom. The craziest part was nothing in the world around me had changed, only what was inside. I even called my dad and said "Dad, don't freak out, but I feel like I'm high on life." That statement was followed by my father replying "Be careful.. What comes up, must come down...." Which was an expected response coming from him, though I would have much preferred "You're on the right track!" or "That's great!" Though I don't believe what my father said always applies, I may have to admit, he might have been a tiny bit right in that instance.

A few months after that phone call, I woke up in my bed, and felt my heart drop to the pit of my stomach. I sat up quickly and put my hand on my chest. My heart was pounding as I thought to myself "Oh no, oh no, oh no! I feel NORMAL!" It was such a contrast from what I had been previously experiencing, that the following month was followed by a deep state of depression because I was trying so hard to get back to that sense of pure bliss. I'm so grateful to have experienced a type of joy most people never do, but ever since then, I had been trying to get back to that undescribable place.

Last week, I was talking to my friend about that place I was trying to get back to. His response blew my mind though it was something I fundamentally knew I had to do. "You have to stop trying." He said matter of factly. It felt like a literal lightbulb had turned on in my head. I knew that's what I had to do because when there is no resistance, opposing forces, or trying, miracles happen. Planets move in perfect proximity to other planets, and plants bloom effortlessly when nature runs its course. It may not seem logical that when you stop trying, you get what you want, but it doesn't seem logical that water nourishes the planet from fluffy floating objects in the sky either.

How did I get so high on life? When reflecting back on how I got to that state, I realize I never really GOT there because it was always within me. I simply allowed myself to realize what was already there by chilling out, not caring about what others thought about me, or worrying about this or that. I didn't try, I just let myself be loved by the universe by being grateful for what was and excited for what will be, trusting fully in the support that life would bring to me.

Energy, universe, life force, God, whatever you want to call it, is the same energy that nature calls to it to blossom and evolve seamlessly. When you let go of the struggle and resistance, and allow yourself to align with that energy, you receive abundance, love, and happiness. I may not be where I once was, but I've made a tremendous amount of progress in my life, and at least I know what has to be done to allow myself to realize the love and abundance being offered to me, and am working on it every day. The best has yet to come.

Cover Image Credit: Brooke Lyn Landon

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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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I'll Always Be An Organ Donor

I mean, outside of the cute little heart I get to have on my state ID.

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Check yes, nod at the clerk, give them a big thumbs up... It's really not hard to sign up as an organ donor. For me, it looks less than five seconds when buying a state ID to tell my clerk that yes, I did want to donate my organs to anyone in need after I died.

Organ donors like myself are always in high demand, especially because only 3 in 1,000 people die in ways that allow for an organ transplant. That wouldn't be too bad if the vast majority of people were organ donors, but only 54% of Americans are signed up to be donors.

Unsplash- Thoracic cavity

But why aren't people donors?

One word: religion.

While most all major religions are not in opposition of organ donation, studies have found that people will cite their religious beliefs are why they're opposed to donating their organs. Many people believe that they may not have access to the afterlife if their bodies aren't fully intact, but I have a problem with this logic.

"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them." Hebrews 6:10.

"None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself." Saheeh Al-Bukarhi.

Most large religions have this reoccurring theme of altruism, and that's what organ donation is all about: sharing something you have with someone less fortunate. Giving them a body part that I'll no longer be using won't harm me, it will help them, and it will hopefully look good if there's a Big Guy Upstairs.

Unsplash- heart made from neon lights

So go watch an episode of "The Bachelor." In those 60 minutes, 6 people have been added to the organ transplant list.

Go spend a relaxing weekend at the beach. In those two days, 40 people died waiting for an organ transplant.

Go to the DMV. Check that box. Save a life. Save eight lives, even. Be that person's shot at a second life.

It's not like anything is stopping you.

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