It was the best decision I ever made in my life, I’ll tell you that much.
I can’t even believe I’m writing about this, but I talked about it as I taught class last week. I was covering a unit on Academic Success and one of the points I needed to address was Learning Disabilities. I found a statistic that said 1 in every 5 individuals have some sort of disability. So, as I looked at my 20 students- I knew 4 of them had one.
And guess what? I do too. Last school year, I was diagnosed with ADHD.
It was embarrassing, all I could think was- WHY ME?
But I couldn’t help but notice all my life that I was different than the other kids at school. Here I was- multilingual, talented, great public speaker, etc. Yet, I could never ace a test. I studied twice as much as my friends and stayed up until 4am doing my homework sometimes. But who made the Dean’s list every quarter? Not me.
So it felt good to get diagnosed at first. I mean, I had been living with a learning disability all my life and I didn’t even know it! Finally, I was going to be able to focus and not blank every single time I saw a test. Finally, I was going to be able to remember the 1,000 things I had on my agenda.
But the thing was, the opposite happened.
2 weeks into my prescription, I stopped eating. I used to love eating- but then suddenly, I lost my appetite. I would try to eat for the sake of trying to keep myself healthy, but I couldn’t hold anything down. So I started living on one meal a day…I didn’t even notice! The prescription always made me feel full!
3 weeks into my prescription, I started getting aches. Muscle aches, stomach aches, headaches- you name it! I would be having a simple conversation with my mom and the next minute…I would be on the floor crouching in pain.
4 weeks into my prescription, I stopped sleeping. All-nighters became my best friend. It’s not that I didn’t want to sleep, but the fact that I couldn’t sleep. It sucked because unlike before, I actually had all my homework and studying done before 10:00. I could have had a nice solid rest! But again, the prescription practically prevented my eyes from shutting.
5 weeks into my prescription, I sat down to take my midterm. The minute I sat down to take it, I felt suffocated in that lecture room of 200 students and the sounds of them scribbling on their tests were amplified! I completely freaked out and blanked… Needless to say, there was barely any improvement from the midterm I took before. In fact, I did worse!
6 weeks into my prescription, I was crying every single day and felt hopeless, worthless, and useless.
7 weeks into my prescription, I was 11 pounds lighter and was on probation for my scholarship. I went home to see my dad sitting sadly on our family room chair.
“What is the matter with you?” he asked with tears in his eyes.
“Look daddy. If this is about being on probation, 3/4 of my courses were science related this quarter. Please try to understand” I pleaded exhaustively.
“I’m not talking about that. Have you looked at yourself in the mirror lately? You are sick honey. Not only do you have a learning disability now…you have an eating disorder! For goodness sake we can work on your probation, but your health is something only you can control!” he cried.
“What am I supposed to do Daddy? Stop the meds and keep living like I did before?” I cried even harder.
“Yes! Before you were at least HAPPY! Now you are suicidal, depressed, and not the same sweet girl your mama and I raised! Please understand. I didn’t fly 1,000 miles and skip my meeting to fight, I did it because I am concerned Shaz. I love you and beg you to take care of yourself” he said.
I nodded my head. He was right, but I couldn’t imagine what would happen if I stopped taking those meds.
A week later, we went to my brother’s graduation. We had spent weeks picking out our dresses and planning parties. He was after all, the first and only college graduate in our family. My parents warned me not to let my “depression” get in the way of this huge honor for our family. I just rolled my eyes and got in the car.
As we drove 5 hours to get to his college, I realized I left my meds at home. I was so pissed! I decided not to say anything, it was only two days anyway.
But the thing was, in the car ride and beyond…I was suddenly HAPPY! And what do you know? The next day, when my brother walked across that stage and got his diploma- I was the loudest, happiest, craziest, and proudest sister cheering in the audience! Both my parents just looked at me with tears in their eyes… “She’s back” my mom whispered with a smile to my dad. Too choked up to respond, my dad could only smile.
I was moved by what she said. I can’t believe I allowed myself to go “missing” for that long.
Hell yea I was back. The second I got back home, I tossed those stupid pills away.
I am happy to say that today I am so much better without it. That last quarter of school- I got the highest GPA I have ever received in college, got off probation, and now teach the class that is required for my scholarship 🙂
The day after I tossed those pills, I changed my life around.
I changed the way I took notes in class, I started exercising every other day, I took moments out of my day to come back to my dorm and just breathe, I started writing again, I allowed myself to have fun and go out with my friends, and most importantly- I stopped obsessing over who loved me and who didn’t. So what if I have a learning disability? It is a part of me, and that’s fine by me!