There’s something about new starts. To me, they feel like magic. After the year I’ve had, moving into school last Sunday was exactly what I’ve been needing. I’m writing to you from my bedroom in my new apartment. It’s the first time I’ve ever lived in an apartment and have my own bedroom at college. My room is decorated perfectly, with my favorite quotes all over the walls and my desk filled with books. It’s the most calming space.
Being done with swimming means that I have some free time to fill up, which I have already done. I’ve taken up 2 jobs, a double major, and a position on the school paper, as well as some work to raise epilepsy awareness.
I came here with the expectation that everything would be easy. I’d finally be happy and live the life I wanted with no complications. This new start would change everything, and I’d become the person I always wanted to be with no obstacles in my way. I realize now that on all levels, that was unrealistic.
Having a kitchen means I’m suddenly responsible for cooking for myself, something I’ve never really had to do. Yesterday, I tried to make pasta sauce and managed to drop a whole can opener and salt shaker in it, making it so salty that it had to be thrown away. This happened right after filling our water purifier with hot water by mistake. Growing up has presented new challenges along with the need for me to adjust to my new circumstances. Luckily, these were easy fixes that even involved some laughs. Some challenges are fun and easy to navigate, some take practice to perfect, and some are going to be left over from the past, no matter how hard you try to avoid them.
Upon my release from the hospital, my doctors added a second medication to counteract the depression that came with the first one I was prescribed, which I thought would be the answer to my prayers. However, my new medication is introducing a whole new set of side effects that I wasn’t expecting. I’ve been feeling nauseous for the past few weeks and experiencing ridiculous mood swings. Yesterday, I started crying because I was having trouble accessing my homework online. Stupid, right? I should be used to feeling out of control of my emotions from taking anti-seizure medication for almost a year, but it’s hitting me just as hard this time around.
I know that this is something I can deal with. And, in reality, it’s nothing in comparison to what I’ve dealt with in the past. I’m just so desperate for a new start that it feels like I’ll never get to where I want to be. I just want to feel new again and reinvent who I am. With things the way they are now, it feels impossible to start doing that when I don’t feel like myself.
There’s also this sense of guilt that comes with lashing out and being miserable. It’s hard when the medication actually changes the way my brain works, because I can’t actually think of a valid reason to be upset, but I feel this deep dread or anger. It’s tough because I know how lucky I am and there is no reason for feeling the way I do. There are people who have it worse and deal with things that are way more frustrating and exhausting, and here I am crying because I forgot the password to access my homework.
Two years ago, I was taking ADHD medication that aggravated my anxiety and completely changed who I was. However, once I realized what was happening, I came off of it and started to feel better. This time isn’t like that. Anti-seizure medication isn’t something I can just decide to stop taking. I’m stuck taking it for the rest of my life.
I can only hope that once my body adjusts to this change, things will start to get better. For now, I will deal with what I have to deal with and get through the day knowing I am as well protected as I can be from having another seizure. Above all else, that really is the most important thing.
A new start won’t erase your past and it won’t change what happened before. Accept that changing your surroundings and your hobbies doesn’t make your past challenges go away. They will always be part of you and part of your story. And while that may sound daunting, if you look at it the right way, it looks like the success story of a huge mountain you had the strength to climb.