School is over… Celebrations for them, not for me
For millions of students across the country these words couldn’t come soon enough, and finally, after 13 long years, they can finally say goodbye to that chapter of their lives: High School graduation is here! School is over! It’s time to let loose. It’s celebrations for them.
But it is celebrations for them, not for me.
For the chronically ill, it’s a much deeper issue.
The majority of us have gone through the process of trying to keep up with school, despite being so unwell, and have ended up having more days off a year than we attended. That process then leads to having to drop out of school, trying distance education, home-schooling or putting school entirely on hold.
This decision to leave mainstream school is one of the hardest for any chronically ill teenager to make. Though in reality, it’s not a decision you made, your health made it for you. You have no choice.
That in itself is so hard and emotional.
You have to leave all your friends and your whole sense of normality; what you’ve always known is gone, and you start to feel extremely isolated. You start feeling the lack of community or being part of a peer group. You suffer a lot of heartache and many deep emotions that you have to work through like, “why me?”, “Why couldn’t my life have been different”, “If I didn’t have this illness I would still be hanging with my friends at school.” Though it’s such a tough process, you finally come to accept the fact that your path in life is different from the “normal”, and you become content with that.
I’ll warn you though – watching what would have been your peer group finally graduate from High School, unfortunately, brings all those emotions right back to the surface. Of course, they want to celebrate and post countless photos on Facebook, Snap “farewell to school” pictures on Snapchat, and Instagram shots. And you are happy for them. You’re just sad for you.
Looking through your social media feed, and seeing your peers standing with their graduation certificates, jumping up in the air, with huge smiles on their faces isn’t easy to see. You once again go through “That could have been me, if I didn’t have this horrible illness”, “I would have completed schooling by now!”, “They’re all going to go live on Campus at uni together, and I will have to stay at home because I can’t live alone.” Despite all of this you really are genuinely happy for all of them, because that’s a fantastic achievement! You just wish you were smiling in the picture beside them.
Then comes the formal shopping, and the formal (prom) photos. The after parties, and schoolies vacations! You feel extremely left out and alone. In an ideal world, it all should have been yours, too.
You have to remember, though, these events aren’t the most important things in life.
In suffering from these horrible illnesses, we’ve had life experiences that our peers have not. We have learned a lot about ourselves along the way. We have developed the best coping skills and mechanisms to deal with any situations thrown at us. We are so resilient, and our ‘spoonie community’ stand united and powerful.
Regardless of whether you finished High School with your peers, or at all, you should be happy with what you have achieved because you’re amazingly strong!
I’m Mya, and I’m from the Gold Coast, Australia.
I’m living with Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and rely fully on the use of a wheelchair. I’ve been struggling with my Ehlers-Danlos for my whole life but was only diagnosed in 2014 after several years of misdiagnoses. I am TPN & Gastric Jejunum fed due to multiple different conditions, with the root cause being my EDS. I had to leave school due to my health, so I’m currently studying Community Services online and hope to one day become a psychologist. I’m an avid Harry Potter fan, with J.K Rowlings being my queen! I look forward to sharing my thoughts and views on being a teenager living with this crazy roller-coaster of an illness!