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A person in a motorized wheelchair moves towards a rainbow.

My Life Is Finally Falling Into Place

Last year, it felt like my life was falling apart, and nothing would feel the same ever again. When I found out about my diagnosis, I wanted the ground to open and swallow me. In my eyes, there was no way out. I was going to have a life filled with isolation and pain.

Life after my NMO diagnosis

I spent 6 months of my life after diagnosis on steroids. The rapid weight gain had the biggest impact on my self-esteem. On top of that, I was isolated from the world because of Covid and having a suppressed immune system. I could not afford to catch Covid and become unwell.

It took hold of my relationships

My relationships with people fell apart because I saw who was truly there for me during my attack and who wasn’t. Cutting people off was easy; the hard part was learning to live without them. I spent many nights upset and angry at how this disease ruined everything in my life, including my relationships.

College became even more challenging

College was stressful. I couldn’t attend classes in person and had so much to catch up on. I would think about dropping out at some points, but I had a valid reason. I was recovering from an attack that left me crippled. I had to learn to walk again without falling, and I had to learn how to adjust to my new body. It couldn’t take the things it did before my attack. At 19, that was a hard pill to swallow. At 19, you want to start working to become independent, travel, and make new friends. All of that was taken away from me in a matter of a few seconds.

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The valuable lessons I learned

After all that, I thought life was always going to be this gloomy. But no, this was just another test to help me grow as a person. I hate having an incurable disease, but I am so grateful I went through this experience to find a new and better version of myself.

Recognizing and appreciating my wins

I thought dropping out of college was the best idea at that point in my life, but I chose to stay and stick to it anyway. I ended up getting all A’s and a place in one of the best universities in my city, studying to become a solicitor. I sat my theory test and passed with good marks. Along with getting good grades, I finally got back to learning how to drive.

Finding my strength and independence

I may not look the same or be the size I was before my attack, but I appreciate myself much more than I ever have. I picked up the pieces of my life that fell apart and glued them back together, even though it seemed impossible at the time. I am the strongest and bravest person I know. I did that all by myself, so why would I feel the need to keep people in my life who do not support me or try to understand the new me who has to live with this disease for life? I can’t be the same Haleemah I was before going through these things. Experiences change you, and that’s okay. You need to go through things to grow and realize your worth.

It's important to ask for help

I’m happier than I have ever been before. With the right help, I was able to get out of the depressing cycle I was in while recovering from my attack. It is crucial to reach out for help when you feel like, no matter what, things will not get better. Sometimes we just need a push to get things going and support. There is no need to be ashamed about needing help.

Reflecting on my year, appreciating the big and small

I had my MRI, which showed my high signal brain lesion has calmed down and is now barely visible. That was the icing on the cake. After finding out I got the grades I needed for a place in university and starting driving lessons again, after the MRI scan results, I felt like my life was falling into place once again. I have the best of friends around me, my relationship with my parents has been the strongest it’s ever been, and I appreciate the little things in life that I wasn’t able to do for a long time. Like going on long walks alone, breathing fresh air, and doing things independently.

We all deserve happy, whole lives

Life won’t be the same once you’re diagnosed with a disease like NMOSD. That doesn’t mean you won’t live a good life. It can seem like things will never get better. We are so brave and strong. We go through the daily struggles to function like a normal person, going through all the treatments and taking medication we need just to stay alive. We deserve to be happy and enjoy life just like everyone else. And it is always okay to be upset and angry about your old life; that doesn’t make you weaker than anyone else. We are human, and we are made to feel emotions, both good and bad. Things take time to settle, and I learned to take everything negative thrown at me as a lesson in life. Some things are not in our control, and we must learn to let go. Even if it seems hard. Life is finally feeling like how it’s supposed to, and I hope it only gets better.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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