10 Things Pneumonia Taught Me

10 Things Pneumonia Taught Me

While trading out college parties for spending the night in the ER was not on my agenda, I did learn a few valuable lessons.

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Two weeks before Thanksgiving break, I got pneumonia in my left lung. I could sit here and mull over the awful symptoms that I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, but instead I decided to reflect on my experience. I spent two nights in the ER, and two weeks withdrawn from school. I sincerely hope you can take something away from these 10 lessons that I had to learn the hard way:

1. Don't be afraid to insist that something's not right

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After the first night in the ER, they sent me home with "inconclusive test results" after making me do every test you could think of. They essentially loaded me on IV fluids and sent me on my merry way. The next day, I fainted in my lecture. Because of my persistence, they finally ordered a chest x-ray and finally came to the diagnosis.


2. When something feels wrong, do something about it.

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There were so many opportunities earlier that week that I could've gotten checked out before it got worse. I could have saved so much time, money, and embarrassment if I went earlier.


3. You need to take care of you rself.

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At the end of the day, no one cares if you don't go out one night. If you're feeling under the weather or just like you need a night in for yourself, you have every right to do so. Sure you'll have a severe case of FOMO, but deleting snapchat for a few days helps.


4. YOU come first.

Izzy Angeli

We all know flirting and sex is part of the college lifestyle. Sure, it's fun, but unfortunately, that's how germs spread. You need to put your health first and be completely comfortable in yourself before you let another person in. It can also be destructive to your mental health if you feel objectified after a one-night-stand.


5. Your professors will understand

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I know it's counterintuitive, but believe it or not, your professors actually want you to succeed in their classes. I remember in high school if you were out sick, teachers would give you a hard time by not believing you were sick or by not giving you appropriate time to make up assignments. I was shocked when the first thing my professors said was, "What do you think? What would an appropriate extension be for your circumstance?" They understand that you didn't choose to be sick.


6. Your problems are relatively small

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Being in the ER exposed me to a lot of people who had it worse than me. It made me count my lucky stars that I just had pneumonia and was fortunate enough to get the care I needed. No matter how sick you are, there will always be someone who has it worse than you.


7. Use GW's student support services

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This team of individuals truly saved me. Even while I was home recovering, they were easily accessible via email and served as a middle-man between me and my professors. They explained my circumstance in detail and transferred the hospital's documents, making the process worlds easier.


8. Take probiotics!

Izzy Angeli

Kombucha was my lifesaver as well as probiotic pearls. These contain "good bacteria" that promote a healthy digestive tract and a strong immune system. Kombucha has the same microorganisms through its fermentation process, which also makes it bubbly.


9. Continue the same health habits you had in high school

Izzy Angeli

In high school, I routinely took a daily multivitamin and allergy pill with dinner and exercised once or twice a week. Since I've gotten to college, I've gone to the gym a total of two times and almost completely stopped taking both supplements. And I had to pay for it.


10. The people who go with you and visit you in the ER are your real friends

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Yes, it's always nice to receive texts from people checking in to see if you're okay, but it's a whole other ballpark when people actually come to see you. When someone goes out of their way to sit with you while you get poked with a million machines, you know they really care.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

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


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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In Real Life, 'Plus Size' Means A Size 16 And Up, Not Just Women Who Are Size 8's With Big Breasts

The media needs to understand this, and give recognition to actual plus-size women.

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Recently, a British reality dating TV show called "Love Island" introduced that a plus-sized model would be in the season five lineup of contestants. This decision was made after the show was called out for not having enough diversity in its contestants. However, the internet was quick to point out that this "plus-size model" is not an accurate representation of the plus-size community.


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It is so frustrating that the media picks and chooses women that are the "ideal" version of plus sized. In the fashion world, plus-size starts at size 8. EIGHT. In real life, plus-size women are women who are size 16 and up. Plunkett Research, a marketing research company, estimated in 2018 that 68% of women in America wear a size 16 to 18. This is a vast difference to what we are being told by the media. Just because a woman is curvy and has big breasts, does NOT mean that they are plus size. Marketing teams for television shows, magazines, and other forms of media need to realize that the industry's idea of plus size is not proportionate to reality.

I am all for inclusion, but I also recognize that in order for inclusion to actually happen, it needs to be accurate.

"Love Island" is not the only culprit of being unrealistic in woman's sizes, and I don't fully blame them for this choice. I think this is a perfect example of the unrealistic expectations that our society puts on women. When the media tells the world that expectations are vastly different from reality, it causes women to internalize that message and compare themselves to these unrealistic standards.

By bringing the truth to the public, it allows women to know that they should not compare themselves and feel bad about themselves. Everyone is beautiful. Picking and choosing the "ideal" woman or the "ideal" plus-size woman is completely deceitful. We as a society need to do better.

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