I Have Keratoconus, An Incurable Eye Disease, And Here's What I Want Everyone To Know About It

I Have Keratoconus, An Incurable Eye Disease, And Here's What I Want Everyone To Know About It

I go through the motions and try to seem normal and that's difficult...

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Life is such a tragic thing, isn't it? Tragic in the way of being so great that you seem high on life. But, tragic in the way that certain things will happen that are completely out of your control.

No, I do not have a disease that I will eventually die from and I am not trying to compare myself to those of have a terminal illness. I wouldn't dare compare my life to someone else who has to question whether they will see the next day. The disease that I have has no cure and at the moment there is no clear cut way to treat it either.

This is my time with it and how I live with it.

When I was in third grade I needed glasses which I thought was normal, my mom, great-grandparents, grandpa, and grandma all wore glasses. I figured I was just like them, they were awesome and being like them was obviously a thing I wanted. Going to the eye appointments was no big deal at that time, I loved looking at the colorful lens and frames trying to see which ones would make me look the coolest.

I can't remember how many times my mom had to tell me that if I break them she would be pissed, basically, my glasses were my life and my first big responsibility. I wasn't called four eyes or anything of that nature to all my other classmates it was also normal to them. I don't remember who, but there were a couple of others that needed to wear them as well, we just the cool kids.

Fast forwarding to when I was just entering my second or third year of college, I was about 21 years old. That's usually the time when you really start living and becoming a true adult, but man was my experience different. My vision was so blurry even with the glasses, I'll tell you the truth with my glasses I was barely able to see my hand.

It wasn't until I had to get my driver's license renewed that I got my eyes checked again. I went to see my usual eye doctor I wish I could remember her name, but I'm sure it will come to me by the end of this article. She noticed something and told me that I had keratoconus.

There's no cure, it's very rare there are fewer than 200,000 cases per year in the United States. In a nutshell, my corneas shape into a cone causing permanent damage to my eyes. Yeah, a great way to start off being 21 right? My vision was so bad that she couldn't make me a new pair of glasses.

So, I guess you're wondering how I live with something with no cure, very little research, and no one to relate to that has the same thing I do. I go through the motions and try to seem normal and that's difficult, but thank god for contact lenses, right?

I can still do all the things that I love to do and communicate the way normal people do, but there are times when if I don't make complete eye contact with you, I'm still listening just a tip if you ever meet me.

Honestly the loneliest I've ever felt. Sure, I've gone through breakups, I've had pets die, and have lost some friends. But, knowing that this disease will always be a part of my life is devastating.

Am I going to go blind? Will I ever be able to see my friends and family members faces again? What do I do? Those were just the thoughts that I had throughout the last couple of years. It is so tough and honestly had some very dark thoughts in my head, ones that aren't needed to be shared in this piece but you get the point.

This is no sob story and I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me, this is simply my narrative of what went down and what I have gone through. I felt so lonely and very sad, but where is that going to get me? I had to go deep within myself and tell myself that no matter how hard it gets, you can't give up.

Life will never be normal and I won't get to see the world the way my friends do with perfect vision. I know one thing is for sure, I will continue to live my life and never get down again. Hopefully, someone with this disease will stumble upon this article and find out that you aren't alone. I was in that place before, it's scary but you can't give up.

I have keratoconus, but that will never stop me from living.

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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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I Stopped Taking My ADHD Medication And It Made Me 10 Times Happier

Many people with ADHD choose to medicate to manage their symptoms, but that choice is not without any negative side effects.

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When I was 7 years old, I was diagnosed with attention deficit disorder.

I was in the third grade and falling behind in nearly every subject and my teachers were losing hope. I endured several weeks of testing before being diagnosed, but even more weeks of medication testing after I was diagnosed. Once it had been determined that I responded positively to medication, I began taking Concerta.

I took Concerta every day from fourth grade on to my freshman year of college.

About every three years, I would start taking a stronger dosage and every time my dosage increased, I experienced more and more negative side effects of the drug.

Common side effects people experience when they take ADHD medications are altered personalities. The meds make you feel more reserved and uncomfortable. You are constantly on alert and this makes one feel very self-conscious. Another side effect of ADHD meds is suppression of identifying personality traits and strong emotions. Many people, including myself, report feeling robot or zombie-like. All of these side effects disappeared when I stopped taking Concerta.

Around the beginning of my first year of college, I considered stopping medicating.

College is a fresh start and I was beginning to wonder what not medicating would feel like. I had become so used to the way Concerta made me feel, I did not know what it felt like to truly be myself. So, after being medicated from 2008-2017, I stopped taking my ADHD pills.

At first, I didn't feel much of a difference, but as time went on I began feeling happier. I found myself to be more outgoing and social. I have always been considered a warm, approachable person, but this was different. People began commenting on how often I was smiling, my friend group was expanding, I began feeling more confident in myself and speaking in public.

During the fall semester of my sophomore year, I began experiencing the symptoms of my ADHD on a whole new level. I was having extreme difficulty paying attention in class, trouble completing all my assignments in a timely fashion, forgetting simple things, and more.

I felt like my grades were suffering and I was worried not medicating was compromising the quality of my education because I no longer had pills to help me manage my symptoms, so I started medicating once again.

At the start of my sophomore winter semester, I began taking Concerta again in hopes my educational experience would improve. While school was easier to manage, I could not stand the way the meds were making me feel. I experienced intense migraines, loss of interest in any/all activities I once enjoyed, I stopped eating, and my friends often commented on how dull I seemed. Due to all the negative side-effects of starting my medication again, I got rid of them for good.

Over a year has gone by since I first made the choice to give up my medication.

School is a lot harder and paying attention takes significantly more energy, but I would not trade any of my ADHD struggles for the feeling of finally being free from the methylphenidate based drug used to treat my disorder. For the first time since third grade, I feel like myself and I am proud of who I am and who I am becoming.

Editor's note: The views expressed in this article are not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

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