Once upon a time, I loved running around and being stupid and silly. I used to love working out with my friends at 8 a.m. and going running after school before my parents got home. I used to love going over to my friends' house and riding bikes around the parking lot of his apartment duplex until it was dark outside and everyone was dripping in sweat because it was entirely too hot outside and no one cared enough to leave.
My mom used to run every chance she got because it gave her peace of mind. I used to clean the house and stop at her shoebox full of medals of races she's participated in and enjoyed so much. I look at the T-shirts and it was usual to wake up to an empty house and know she had gone out for a run. The room we had transformed into a workout room served its purpose and now, it's for physical therapy.
About a year ago, I joined AFROTC at my University. I loved it at first, even knowing that I was being looked at differently because I was one of the few females who had joined that year. At first, it didn't bother me. Until only about a month later I was hauling myself around on crutches because my hip gave out in the middle of the concourse one day. It was a hip strain caused by some exercises that overworked the muscles the morning before. My body has been shutting down on itself ever since.
People say that what I experience, feel and go through it in my head, that I fake it for attention or to get out of things I don't want to do. This is for the boss who didn't believe me, the people who doubt me, and the people who think I'm worth nothing.
You don't know what a person feels until you've lived it. My lower body gives out on me at least once a day and that leaves me either leaning on the nearest surface whether that be a wall, table or human and sometimes it leaves me on the ground. My migraines get so bad that I curl into balls in the middle of dinner and refuse to move until I get a little relief. My eyes hurt, my head hurts, I get nauseous, and moving physically hurts. Sometimes I can't stand on my own because the muscles in my hips, lower back and legs can't support the weight shift. I'm tired. I'm always so exhausted and no amount of proper sleep fixes it. I can't stand for extended periods of time because I will fall or faint, yet sitting makes my muscles lock and hurt worse. At certain times I can't eat because my body will reject foods that I used to love and I'll be sick, lying in bed for hours or days because I can't move.
My mom struggles more. Life is exhausting. She has to take breaks after doing things that normal people would consider every-day, no big deal things, like showering. From day to day her pain goes back and forth from being decently okay to not being able to walk or hold things in her hands. The exhaustion is overwhelming most days.
Some people say it's because we don't take care of ourselves. Lose weight and we'll feel better. I am 19 years old and weigh 160 lbs. My mother started showing symptoms when she was 145 lbs. Tell me again how if we lose weight we'll be fine.
My dad didn't understand for a while but eventually learned that it's not something that can be helped or avoided or changed. Recently, my mom told me that he asks day to day how she feels so that he can make sure things are just a little bit easier on her. Her body is breaking down, it's one of the most difficult things to watch and be aware of.
Moral of this story is when you don't know what a person goes through in a day, don't pretend as you do. I don't want to hear that it's all in our heads or that we just need to work through it. We are working as hard as we can and we do it with tired and painful smiles on our faces so shut up, sit down, and mind your own business.