I write this blog from both the perspective as someone who deals with these things personally and as someone who has several loved ones who also deal with these issues. Right now the latter is tearing me up inside.
My daughter has several health issues - mental and physical. As anyone who deals with these issues knows, the mental makes the physical worse and vice versa. In other words, anxiety from an anxiety disorder can cause physical pain. If you already have a condition that causes pain, like fibromyalgia, add anxiety to the mix and it's a lot to deal with.
She is currently in college and was hoping to do something really special next semester - one of her big dreams. However, this semester has been truly horrible for her.
Right before the semester started, she hurt her back badly - so badly we thought for a while that she would need surgery. Instead she "just" needed physical therapy 2x-3x a week by a specialist in this type of injury... and the only one in our area was over 30 minutes each way from our home.
Due to fibromyalgia and dysautonomia that she deals with, mornings are very hard for her in the best of circumstances. Given her extreme back pain on top of it and having to take time for physical therapy and... let's just say that she started off already behind in her classes this year, missing many classes and being in so much pain she couldn't concentrate on schoolwork.
As soon as she started getting behind, the stress started mounting. The added pressure of getting ready for the study abroad experience she has hoped for years she would be able to do added stress, which increased the pain and symptoms of her health issues. Then the pain increased her stress. You can see where this is going...
She has stumbled along, fighting with everything in her, to even barely make it through this semester. Even with all of the work she has done, her grades right now are pitiful. She's an A/B student and it's entirely possible she'll fail, even though she's worked her tail off.
Due to miscommunication, not caring, or just not understanding, her professors this semester have added to the struggle by not following her accommodations that were already set in place. Her medications aren't the right ones, or aren't enough, but she's been struggling so much to deal with school that she hasn't been able to focus on getting those corrected.
I have been stressed and hurting along with her. It's been a real roller-coaster ride - where we thought she would get to go and then something would happen that would put a kink in the works. Then that would work out and we could get excited only to have another kink. I can't tell you how many times this has happened this semester concerning this experience.
So last Friday she finally committed to going no matter what. I got in high gear and finally started on all of the many details that we have been planning but were waiting for a final confirmation before we actually started doing.
Then everything changed.
I don't want to go into detail on how it happened but Friday afternoon she realized that even though she can go, it just might not be the best thing for her to go. Because I know how much she's wanted to go, I know I've pushed her, probably more than I should have. I thought that if she could just make it there, everything would somehow be okay.
With this realization, I felt like my heart was being torn out (because it's all about me, right?) Really, I just hurt so much for her, knowing that this dream could come to an end because of these stupid diseases that we just can't get a handle on. Co-dependent? Of course, I am. I'm a momma. When she hurts, I hurt. Maybe one day I'll get healthy and get boundaries and be able to handle it better when she hurts. But for now - I'm a basket-case.
I have been all weekend. I was already in a low cycle with my bipolar disorder and can't seem to get rid of this stupid cough, which exhausts me on top of my regular always-tired feeling. So I especially haven't been in a place where I could separate myself from her pain this weekend. But feeling her pain isn't helpful because I couldn't take it away... she was hurting too. And I know there's nothing I can do about it.
Sometimes I get so bitter about the fact that my little girl can't just be a regular college kid. She has to put so much energy into just getting through life, she has nothing left for fun. But even with all that, she gets lumped into a group with the college kids who just party and don't care about class... I know that's at least a partial factor on why her professors don't cut her more slack.
Anyway, today we gave up. She hasn't made the final decision, but it looks like she is going to ask for incompletes this semester because trying to get everything done before finals is stressing her out so much that we are seriously worried about her possibly having a complete breakdown. Then most likely she is going to take the next semester off from college completely, to get her health straightened out.
With this plan, the hope is that she will go back to her current college next fall and will be able to attempt again to do the study abroad experience the next spring. This will put her a year behind on graduating from college, but she will still get to fulfill her dream.
I wish so much that I could just fix it - make it all go away. In the meantime, even though I fail more than I succeed, I'm going to keep trying to be supportive of both her health needs and her dreams... and try my best not to let the supporting her dreams get in the way of her health.