When I was in high school, I was surrounded by friends. We all sat at the same table during lunch, skipping classes to go to Chick-Fil-A, and giving our teachers so much grief that they all but gave up on us. Those were my golden days. I was never alone, and my friends and I were always together, sneaking out our parents liquor bottles after they went to sleep and then going on long walks, talking nonsense and laughing at the moon.
Things are different now.
Life happened, and I feel like it might have hit me the hardest.
Both of my best friends and my sister have babies now and fiances, living in our hometown and soaking up every moment of joy that their families bring.
We always talked about having the same plans: Marrying in our twenties, having babies at the same time that would grow up together, and living next to each other with scheduled play-dates, after receiving our college degrees, of course.
But you know what they say–When you make plans, God laughs.
Well, at least at me. My best friends are living out our high school plans without me.
I’m not trying to create a sob-story here. I’m only being transparent in spilling my soul.
So far, my life after high school has not gone how I had planned at all. I’ve always dealt with depression, anxiety, and paranoia, but two years ago, the voices in my head grew so loud that I couldn’t here anything else but their lies.
I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t stop twitching, and it kept me up at night. I was enrolled in a community college nearby, and suddenly, I kept forgetting things, and school work became so difficult that I often didn’t do it.
After a lot of research and thought, I decided to get tested for Huntingtons Disease, which is a hereditary degenerative brain disorder that causes your body and mind to decay over time.
My grandfather passed away from Huntingtons Disease, as well as two of my great aunts.
I felt I had some cognitive problems, so after much consideration, I decided to get tested. I started seeing subtle signs in my mother, and since she refused to acknowledge the disease, I wanted to find out for myself.
I tested positive.
I told myself that I would be strong, and I smiled when the doctor gave me news while my father sobbed. There was nothing they could do.
As soon as we stepped out of the door, I collapsed into a heap, drowning in a river of tears flowing so relentlessly that my father had to carry me out of the hospital
I thought back to my grandfather. I never knew him outside of his sickness, which consisted of non-stop jerking, falling over, talking nonsense, and spending his days moving uncontrollably in front of the television. The only knowledge that I contained of his true self were pictures, stories, and certificates of his many achievements as a music producer and a body builder. The image of him hanging on the wall with a medal around his neck and muscles stronger than anyone in our family had turned into a man who fell a slave to his sickness, laying skin-to-bone on a couch worn down from his twitching.
I look at my mother, who I love more than anything on this earth, and I can’t imagine her mind fading away along with her body. I wanted to see her grow old, with wrinkles around her eyes from laughing so much, watching her grandchildren play while she plants her tomatoes.
I can see her subtle signs now that are becoming more prominent every day. Her face twitches, she forgets my name, and chokes almost every time she eats. My lovely mother just laughs it off, claiming that she will still have her sense of humour as she progresses in the disease.
Huntingtons disease comes in different forms, with some taking over the mind for the most part, while the other claims control of the body. Sometimes it’s one or the other in the early stages, and right now, my mom’s mind is sick. Though she won’t admit it, she’s depressed, scared, and anxious about where her mind is going, and she often self-medicates with painkillers.
One day, my sister came home to find my mother lying on the living room floor unconscious, foaming at the mouth. She immediately called an ambulance, and later found out that if they had come a minute later, she probably wouldn’t have made it.
She had overdosed on morphine.
My mother no longer works, and although her physical stability is still in tact for the most part, her mind is fading faster than I can keep up with.
So, I decided to get tested.
After my results, I took a semester off from school, sleeping my life away with the shades closed. I was at my lowest point, but at least all of the voices in my head started to make sense.
After my mourning period ended, I set my sights on becoming a writer, and planted myself in Denton, Texas, where I attended the Mayborn School of Journalism.
All of my friends were now far away, living out the American Dream that I had always passionately desired. Now, I am nowhere close to my planned destination, and I can’t seem to shake the depression and anxiety that HD inflicts, no matter how many different medications that the doctors have shoved down my throat.
So, I got a job at a little cafe that never brought in enough customers to pay the bills. Because I didn’t really know anybody, I spent most of my extra time helping out in the kitchen and chatting with our very charismatic chef.
He asked me what I did outside of work.
“I’m a self-proclaimed writer,” I replied.
“Oh, so you’re a loner, huh? Most writers don’t have very many friends.”
After thinking for a second, I decided he was right. I imagined myself ten years from now, sitting in the cliche setting of a dark room with a tiny lamp on, surrounded by crumpled pieces of paper, chain smoking cigarettes with a bottle of gin on my desk.
I kind of liked the idea. Don’t ask me why.
After working at the cafe for two months, the anxiety brought on from running around in a room full of people shouting, crunching loudly, and snapping their fingers to get my attention ended up getting the best of me, so I quit and lived off of government loans for a while.
Despite all of my classes and three roommates, I found that I enjoyed solitude with my journal better than the company of other people.
My family always tells me to get out, not to waste my pretty face by hiding behind a computer screen in the dark, but I don’t care about any of that. I would much rather live through writing that portrays passion, transparency, and hope than hold shallow conversations with people who have no idea what mental illnesses I struggle with every day.
Maybe it sounds a bit selfish, but this is what I’m passionate about, so it’s what I’m going to do, even if it brings on a bit of loneliness from time-to-time.
And I do have friends. Beautiful friends that make up a part of my soul. I just don’t get to see them very much because our lives split into opposite halves.
At first, I was jealous of their ability to conceive beautiful children without having to go through In Vitro to make sure their children didn’t get sick like their mother. I was jealous that they all get to grow old together, with husbands that won’t have to feed them from a tube. I could see them on a tiny porch, sitting in rocking chairs, holding hands and whispering, “We made it,” while watching the sunset.
But now, I am happy for them. My heart grows ten sizes when I see them playing with their children or kissing their lovers.
And I’ve given my solitude a new name: Purpose. I might not live a long life, but I heard that if you’re a writer, you can never die. My pieces will live on, hopefully providing a sense of comfort and empathy for those who are wading through similar waters.
Even if you aren’t a writer and you find yourself alone, do something that you will be remembered for. Sing a song. Paint a picture. Decorate your room. Start a picture diary. Make a pyramid out of cans of corn and then donate them to charity. Look in the mirror, gaze at your fingerprints, and learn to love yourself. You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
And being alone is okay.
Society will tell you differently. You’ll turn on the T.V. and see people partying, hanging out, throwing glasses of wine at each other (thank you The Real Housewives of L.A.). You’ll see covers of magazines that will try and convince you to look good for the world. Your roommates will come home, asking you why you never want to go clubbing with them.
No matter what, stay true to yourself. It’s alright to have a few best friends that you mostly talk to through text and see once a month because they make you feel loved.
I may be alone, but I’m not lonely. I have my HD family by my side, even though they all live in different states. I have my best friends with babies. But most importantly, I have my purpose, no matter how sick I get.
I may be alone, but I’m not lonely.
Purpose is my best friend.