Making the Really Hard Choices

My life has been consumed with classes, doctor appointments and Netflix. Basically, I feel more like a mess of symptoms than a human being in possession of a working personality. Thankfully I’m very close with my roommate and neighbors so even when I can’t pretend that I am a functioning human, I am not isolated. Sucks for them though, because they have to listen to me complain about the clusterfuck that my college experience has become.

Last Monday, I received a new diagnosis from a new therapist. Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, which is a fancy way of saying I’m afraid of food. I think after all these symptoms for two years, the fact that I only developed this a few months ago is pretty damn good. But in the words of my new therapist, I fit the criteria to a t. Hooray for me.

But we still have NO IDEA what is making me so sick, and I am still losing weight. I had the weird experience of walking past a window, and wondering about the girl walking past who looked skeletal, even with a sweatshirt and jeans on. Then I realized that I was looking at myself.

I’ve been referred to an Infectious Disease specialist and a Rheumatologist at Northwestern, because the Primary Care for my refeeding labs here in Chicago went above and beyond the call of duty, but I cannot keep up that number of doctor appointments and still go to school. Add a serious explosion of my ADD and a nasty case of allergies, I’ve basically been in one constant anxiety attack since last week.

I am concerned that, until we figure out why I am so sick, we cannot treat the ARFID. In my brain, the fear of eating can’t be treated until you take away the punishment for eating. You’re going to fear the thing that causes you pain until the pain is taken away. Phenergan really only works to take the edge off, Zofran wears off in about 2 hours now and exceeding two pills a day will cause an overdose, I’m running out of options. Now I have to make one of the most difficult choices I will probably make this year.

Do I stay at school or do I take a leave of absence?

My mom and I have had several conversations about this, all of which have ended with me in tears and not really any closer to me making up my mind. I blame anxiety. I know what I want, and I know what I need, but then I second guess because maybe I’m actually just homesick or maybe I just hate change or if I miss a semester then I’m behind and I’ll miss all my friends and I could get a job because I’ve always wanted to work as a CNA but I have to transfer my license but I want to stay but what if I get sicker because I’m already having to sleep for much longer than I normally have too and my pain levels are already increasing and so is my nausea and there’s no point to staying if I’m miserable BUT WHAT ABOUT SCHOOL.

You get the point. Like countless other students, I am literally so driven by academics that I’ll run myself into the ground. I’m relatively certain that I’ll spend this weekend packing up my stuff and driving home with my dad, but I have a week to decide. Maybe this Thursday’s psychiatry appointment will hit on a wonder drug and we’ll stumble upon a diagnosis. But most likely that will not happen, and I’m trying to be okay with that. It’s time to accept that we will not find the solution overnight and the best choice for me is to take a step back. My job right now isn’t to be a perfect student and perfect daughter and never ever stumble or give myself a break. My job right now is to be sick, and to be patient. We will probably go through several medications and several different doctors and more incorrect diagnoses before we find something that works. I’m trying to make my own choice before my health makes it for me. I probably should have made this choice over the summer, but I’m an experiential learner. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

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