I spent the first night of spring break on the bathroom floor. No, no, I wasn’t in some exotic location partying with friends. No, I hadn’t hit up the local bars. Heck, I wasn’t even just getting trashed at home. Nope, I was just sick. So what else is new?
Anyway, while I was up all night not doing anything except throwing up intermittently, I had a lot of time to think, and a lot of time to decide on my next blogging subject. But before I begin…
My blog is still in it’s fledgling stages. I initially set a goal for myself to take awareness action outside of this blog every 5 posts, but around post 5 I almost died and things just didn’t go as planned. So I reset that goal to every 10 posts. Since this is the 10th post (woo hoo!) I am planning on beginning a poster campaign at UNT to raise awareness and get more people checking out this blog so we can start doing real events, interviews, etc. This is all very exciting, but it made me hesitant to write this post. See, I’m about to make a move to try and draw a lot more attention to this site, but the next subject that’s on my mind is one that may make me a bit unpopular, especially among my own age bracket. So I’m just going to be quick, like ripping off a band-aid:
This post contains opinions that are anti-drinking.
*looks around* is anybody still reading? Okay. Well, I wanted to tell the story of why I came to write this blog:
I am a junior at UNT, and I have the best job ever. I get to film and edit for a living – my dream come true. I had ditched the RTVF program at my school, and somehow found work in the real world of film. This is unheard of. I had been working at this studio for about a year. I had gotten to be good friends with my boss and coworkers.
Well, one day, I missed a dose of some of my medicine. Like most prescriptions, it advised that I take it as soon as I remembered. Being sick wasn’t new to me, and I knew what would happen: I’d take that dose along with the next dose, and wind up throwing up all night. Since I was friends with my boss, I thought I could tell him about my chronic illness and forewarn him of the impending sick day I’d need to take.
It went something like this:
Me: “This might sound silly, but I might be sick tomorrow–”
Boss: “You might be sick?”
Me: “Yes, um–”
Boss: *leaning out office door, calling a couple of the guys over* “Hey, do you hear this? She might be sick tomorrow!”
Coworker 1: “What does that even mean??”
Coworker 2: “Ha, yeah, like I might get really drunk tonight?”
Coworker 1: “I might get hungover!”
At this point, I stalked off, got my bags and went home. It would be upsetting enough to have a jerk boss publicly humiliate you like that, but it was worse coming from a person I consider to be a friend. Oh the stories I could tell of trying to explain an invisible illness to bosses or teachers. I was livid. Not only was I once again expected to be well if I didn’t look sick, but to insinuate getting drunk?! That made it really personal. I hate drinking. I’ve lost friends over it. But that’s college life, right? I realized it was an issue of awareness. Everyone is aware of the binge drinking and partying that goes on in college, but there’s little to NO awareness of my disease that effects 5.5 MILLION women in North America alone! Drinking is a stupid decision, but being sick was NEVER up to me.
I have a theory that it is not uncommon in people with invisible illness or any illness to not drink. I’ve done no research, but my own thought process is that I feel completely crappy all the time anyway. Hangovers are the last thing I need – I spend enough time on the bathroom floor as it is. And I’ve never seen the draw of drinking so much that you can’t remember anything. I’m sick, and I even almost died once – I want to remember everything I can. I only have one life, after all.
Then there are people who “drink socially,” which is also beyond me. If you need to drink to have fun, then I don’t think you have very good friends. If you saw my friends and I hanging out, you’d probably think we were drunk all the time. Having fun is a lot like being drunk, except you don’t need alcohol. The last reason I hear drinking is great is because it helps you not worry about life – okay, zip it right there. Part of being a grown up is being present in your own life. Drinking as a form of escapism is, in my opinion, the lowest and most immature….but now I’m ranting. This post isn’t about ranting.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve hated the idea of drinking. I wasn’t raised that way – both my parents drink, and in a Lutheran church we have no qualms about having real wine up there on the alter. But for some reason, I have always been against it. Maybe it was God’s way of preparing me for being diagnosed with an incurable disease. Most medicine I take has labels that forbid alcohol, and yes, there’s the physical stuff I mentioned earlier. But there’s more than that. Hating the idea of drinking is alienating. No one else on planet earth feels that way. Getting drunk is accepted and encouraged EVERYWHERE. It was only this year that I found one human being who shared my views. That’s 21 years of it being just me. 21 years of learning to be okay with feeling isolated.
So I was ready for the new feelings of isolation that came with being chronically ill.
My coworkers made me mad that day, but I couldn’t stay mad. It was an issue of awareness. I’m not on an anti-alcohol crusade here, I just think I deserve as much awareness as binge drinkers.
1 in 4 college students engage in binge drinking (which, I want to remind you, is a choice).
1 in 2 people in the U.S. suffer from invisible illnesses.
Most were born with their condition.
If you’re healthy enough to be getting wasted and partying this spring break, then I envy you. But I wonder, too, why you don’t take better care of your body.
That’s all I have to say about that.