I grew up with EDS and struggled with the condition

Living With Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome Has Made Me A Stronger Person

Growing up was harsh, but I grew stronger.

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My skin is made of paper. It rips as easily as tissue and shatters as quickly as glass.

I was born with a skin and joint condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome where my skin is highly sensitive and bruises, tears, and scars easily. In addition, my joints constantly pop in and out. When people ask about my condition I say, "If you and I are running on a track and we both trip and fall, you would end up with a bruise and I would end up in the hospital receiving another set of stitches." I have been to the hospital so many times that the staff knows me on a first-name basis. I inherited this rare condition from my father. I struggled growing up as a child because I always had to be cautious. I couldn't play on the slip n' slide or get close in contact with others in fear of getting hurt. As a girl, this condition caused me to have several insecurities with my looks and how others perceived me.

Growing up, I was a very active child and loved to jump, play, and run everywhere without knowing the repercussions of my choices. In preschool, my father urged me to wear shin guards and kneepads to play on the playground. Yet, I detested it and felt like I didn't fit in. The other children alienated me; I just wanted to be normal in the eyes of others. Since I was vigorous and energetic, my doctors had advised me not to participate in sports because I'm at high risk of major injuries. Yet, I loved soccer and cheerleading, and I wouldn't give it up because it was something I valued, and wouldn't let my condition hinder me.

By the time I hit puberty, I had already collected numerous scars along my body where it's visible for anyone to see, mainly on my shins and knees. Wearing shorts, dresses, and skirts was a no-go because everywhere I went people would point, talk, and question me on my legs. In middle school, my fears and insecurities really arose because I swore I was in love with this one boy in my class. So, I had asked my friend to help me out and when she queried him about me he said, "Ew, I don't like her. Did you see her legs?" This absolutely broke me, and ever since, I wore jeans to school to hide.

It wasn't until the beginning of my junior year of high school that I accepted myself for who I am. I finally wore shorts, dresses, and skirts to school; I opened myself up to people's pestering eyes. I answered people's questions on the street so I could educate them on Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and its rarity. I grew to accept that my condition is a part of me, and it's what makes me different. I love myself, I'm happy, and I overcame my struggle.

Going to a school as diverse as UCF, makes me feel a part of something more, and bigger than just me. A school with a large population with so many opportunities gives me a reason to hope for a great learning experience and developing more as a substantial human being.

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Everything You Will Miss If You Commit Suicide

The world needs you.
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You won't see the sunrise or have your favorite breakfast in the morning.

Instead, your family will mourn the sunrise because it means another day without you.

You will never stay up late talking to your friends or have a bonfire on a summer night.

You won't laugh until you cry again, or dance around and be silly.

You won't go on another adventure. You won't drive around under the moonlight and stars.

They'll miss you. They'll cry.

You won't fight with your siblings only to make up minutes later and laugh about it.

You won't get to interrogate your sister's fiancé when the time comes.

You won't be there to wipe away your mother's tears when she finds out that you're gone.

You won't be able to hug the ones that love you while they're waiting to wake up from the nightmare that had become their reality.

You won't be at your grandparents funeral, speaking about the good things they did in their life.

Instead, they will be at yours.

You won't find your purpose in life, the love of your life, get married or raise a family.

You won't celebrate another Christmas, Easter or birthday.

You won't turn another year older.

You will never see the places you've always dreamed of seeing.

You will not allow yourself the opportunity to get help.

This will be the last sunset you see.

You'll never see the sky change from a bright blue to purples, pinks, oranges, and yellows meshing together over the landscape again.

If the light has left your eyes and all you see is the darkness, know that it can get better. Let yourself get better.

This is what you will miss if you leave the world today.

This is who will care about you when you are gone.

You can change lives. But I hope it's not at the expense of yours.

We care. People care.

Don't let today be the end.

You don't have to live forever sad. You can be happy. It's not wrong to ask for help.

Thank you for staying. Thank you for fighting.

Suicide is a real problem that no one wants to talk about. I'm sure you're no different. But we need to talk about it. There is no difference between being suicidal and committing suicide. If someone tells you they want to kill themselves, do not think they won't do it. Do not just tell them, “Oh you'll be fine." Because when they aren't, you will wonder what you could have done to help. Sit with them however long you need to and tell them it will get better. Talk to them about their problems and tell them there is help. Be the help. Get them assistance. Remind them of all the things they will miss in life.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255

Cover Image Credit: Brittani Norman

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How To Avoid Getting Sick Your  Freshman Year

It's going to take a little more than an apple a day.

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College is the prime time and place to catch a cold... or worse. Although, somehow I managed to crack the code to health and not get sick my whole first year of college. This is surprising considering I was living in the close (and very unsanitary) quarters of a dorm room.

1. Keep your diet somewhat healthy

https://picjumbo.com/healthy-fruits-and-vegetables/

I know how hard it is to eat healthy in college, especially on a low budget. But with the dining hall foods, you can at least include some vegetables and fruits into your everyday consumption. The vitamins in these foods will help keep your immune system up and it will be worth the effort.

2. Try to exercise a few times per week

https://picjumbo.com/fitness-girl-jogging-morning-run/

Even if you're just getting out of the dorm for a thirty minute walk, it will benefit your body. If you decide to up your routine from that, even better! The more endorphins, the more you will feel better inside and out.

3. Cut back on the drinking if you feel a cold coming on

https://pixabay.com/photos/glasses-toasting-cheers-alcohol-919071/

Surprisingly, many college students don't seem to know that alcohol lowers your immune system. Of course, for some people theres no way of avoiding drinking. But if you can at least give your body rest days, it will be extremely beneficial.

4. Invest in a dehumidifier for your dorm room

https://icdn2.digitaltrends.com/image/dehumidifier_hero_1-2-720x720.jpg

I believe this was a very big player in helping me not get sick. The dehumidifier helps reduce dust and other particles in the air. This will help not agitate your allergies and you will feel more clear headed.

5. Try not to share personal products

https://picjumbo.com/makeup-brushes/

Sharing things like towels, makeup, unwashed cups, etc. can all be causes of a sickness being passed around you and your friends. Of course sharing is caring, just make sure it's sanitary.

6. Be conscientious of who you kiss!

https://www.pexels.com/photo/love-people-kissing-romance-18397/

Make sure that your girlfriend, boyfriend, or "its complicated" person is not sick before you're getting cozy with them.

7. Drink lots of green tea!

https://libreshot.com/green-tea/

Personally, I credit green tea and its anti-oxidants for keeping the flu away and even getting rid of bugs that might be forming in your system. So if you feel like you might be developing a cold, chug that tea!

I know how annoying these tips may be. But I promise, if you implement at least a few it could reduce your chances of feeling horrible during midterms in the winter, and sneezing all over your finals in the fall.

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