I wanna be me again
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1: Where it all began
Chapter 1: Where it all began
DISCLAIMER: This is long and unedited, it's just late and I don't want to read through all of this, so sorry if some sentences don't make sense. Aso this isn't like a diary entry it's more like a background for future diary entries. I'm pretty new to this website so I don't even know if that's allowed.
I’m an 18 years old girl, and ill be heading off to college in 8 or so weeks. Which is part of the reason I need to get my life together? I’ll be majoring in computer science because I love the creative aspect of programming and I do not mean drawing using the turtle API in java. I love to play ice hockey and go on runs or do any exercise that involves positive social interactions. I also enjoy doing creative stuff like arts and crafts. Oh, and I have a disease that I kinda messed up my senior year of high school and probably would have killed me.
I’m a self-improvement kind of girl that is constantly over criticizing herself to hopefully one day be the “dream self”. Which honestly will probably never happen and I'm okay with that. I get lost in my thoughts, especially right before I go to bed. It allows me to think through why I do the things I do, and what makes me happy versus unhappy. Thinking also allows me to set goals for myself or develop a story. However, sometimes it's not enough and I need to write it out for me to actually understand how I feel.
I mentioned that I have a disease in the beginning, I have an overactive thyroid caused by graves disease. Before I explain anything can we just talk about the fact that it’s called “graves disease”? I know it was someone’s last name but seriously that name is unnerving. My mom and my sister both have an underactive thyroid linked to Hashimoto's which sounds way cooler than “graves disease” like ugh. But I guess the name is an accurate cause without modern medicine I would be in a grave.
Tangent over! An overactive thyroid produces too many hormones which then mess with your mind and body. My story began with me choosing to go to a high school simply because a) all my friends were going to school b) it was the more challenging option. Now challenging it was because let me tell you this wasn’t any ordinary high school, it was hell incarnated. Now I’m probably exaggerating cause on the outside you’d probably just see a bunch of sleep-deprived kids cramming or playing cards in their free time.
BUT if you took a closer look you would see the vicious cycle of sleep, school, then homework every single freaking day. Also, add in sports games and practices. What about the weekend? We got extra homework and it would 7 am to 10 pm just doing homework. I actually didn’t mind the homework cause I just went into auto-pilot. Now I was different I actually got more than 5 hours of sleep, amazing I know! The school was about 45 minutes from where I lived so I would have to get up at 5:45 got onto the bus by 6:20 be at school by 7:10 (cause we still had to go to several stops). Class started at 7:45 which meant we got to school 35 MINUTES EARLY. WHY?? Because our school was in the middle of nowhere and they had to pick up the middle schoolers There was a school like 10 minutes from my house, my “local” school, the school I was SUPPOSED to go to. But I CHOSE to go to this other school because it was a magnet school, which basically just meant you had to take a test to get into one of its special programs. Me being overachieving and try hard I chose the “hardest” program the STEM math, science, and computer science. In retrospect, I should have chosen the environment one since I think I would have enjoyed it more.
I realize I’m complaining a lot and ill get to the part where I am super grateful about everything in a bit. One of the requirements for the stem program was an 8th class, which meant you had to be at school for another 45 minutes...except if you lived far away. They only had buses going after the 7th class, and since we were in the middle of nowhere they couldn’t spare those buses to come to the same school 45 minutes after the first group. So they compromised and they would pick us up after the elementary school kids. Which meant that we would be at the school an extra two hours longer than the local kids or the kids in the other programs. This in-between time was called study hall and was actually a ton of fun unless you had after school sports then you didn’t get to enjoy it as much. If anything study hall was one of the best things about this program. The kids in the program were really tight-knit due to all the time we spent in study hall together.
I go on a lot of tangents if you haven’t noticed. The program gave you me so much knowledge. The skills I now possess include: time management, studying, emailing professionals for internships, interning, teamwork, and making great presentations. But this came at a cost. I never got to be a normal teen. Or even a kid. In middle school, I was in a similar program but it wasn’t nearly as hard. The hard part was I had been doing gymnastics 24 hours a week since I was 4. I quit when I went to high school. That said I never got super into makeup, or gossip or “dating” (I dated but uhhh they didn’t end well). But I was fine with not being a normal teenager I didn’t do drugs, smoke or drink, I never felt the need too. Cause I had amazing friends that liked to play board games and draw and that was enough for me.
Things took a turn for the worse junior year. It’s the dreaded “hardest year of high school” and my program required us to have a research internship between the summer of our junior and senior year. Which meant during the junior year we had to email and call professors and scientist and ask if they would mentor us. Which ended up being super stressful and I eventually created a template and spam emailed 57 professors at a university in my area and got like 21 responses, which is a decent ratio even if they are rejections.
Side note Junior year as a whole was life-changing. I had always been several years less mature than my friends and junior year I felt like I finally caught up. I learned so much about social interaction and being myself. I also had like 8 crushes that year. Also, a drug dealer asked me out and I agreed because I didn’t know he was a drug dealer and we never went on a date, and I’m perfectly content with that. I learned my passions and how to put my heart and soul into everything I do. This was the first year I took a step back from my youtube channel to focus on school, which was heartbreaking because I had around 3k subs at the time, all I have ever wanted at the time. I also learned my friends could be cruel, and they thought less of me because I didn’t know certain news or maybe because I was different.
Maybe it was because I was the only white girl in a group of Asians(Chinese, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean). Maybe I wasn’t smart enough. I had the feeling I was unwanted. Apparently, some of my close best friends also felt like they were unwanted too, which was really sad. Yet we pretended everything was fine till the moment we graduated. I could rant about this topic for years but I am trying to get to the part where I get sick in a decently timed manner.
In April of my junior year, my internship started. 2 months earlier then most of my classmates' internships. Why in April? Because it was programming and programming can be done anywhere. Let the stress begin. Basically, since I was still in the hell that was my school I had to start programming very irrelevant math several hours a day. FUN I know. I wanted to die. (not really but sorta kinda in a joking way, actual suicide thoughts come later). The internship itself was fiiiiiiinnnnnee I guess? Like my mentor didn’t expect anything from me, which was part of the problem. Most high school internships just end with the professors giving a vague project with zero direction.
Just because my mentor didn’t have any expectations, that didn’t mean I didn't. I had ridiculously high standards for myself. I’m the type of person who feels any moment not working is a moment wasted. And since I was working from home, I felt a lot of guilt. Which caused a lot of stress. Now to counteract the stress I did have one good thing and it was my running group. We were running in the summer to train for cross country in the fall. I really enjoyed running that summer. We would meet at 7 at a middle school 10 minutes from my house and we would go on these fun runs and do core, and most of all I could forget about my problems.
But a year of stress doesn’t magically go away. No, it takes a toll on your body. In my case, it messed up my thyroid. My disease first revealed itself that summer when a thyroid blood test recommended by the doctor came back with elevated levels of certain thyroid parameters. It wasn’t urgent especially since I didn’t have any symptoms. So our family doctor told us to wait it out, and see how it goes. I had not to clue what was coming.
The school starts up again and I’m a senior, best year of high school?? Right? RIGHT?? Haha, you naive silly child. (“you” referring to past me, I swear I’m not trying to offend anyone) The best part about the start of senior year was my first cross country race where I got sub 30 minutes and ironically the only time I got sub 30 in a race that season. I find it funny that I spent an entire summer training and peaked right before the actual season started, but I guess I can blame the stress of school.
The first 3 weeks were horrible. I was playing hockey 3 to 4 times a week for two separate teams and running 6 days a week for cross country. I was getting straight A’s and like 9 hours of sleep. AND was slowly going mentally insane. I did the next rational thing I talked to my guidance counselor who was the most apathetic person I have ever met. He offered advice for college which I guess helped. In my too stressed to care state I applied to three school cause my parents told me that I was gonna go to the school I interned at due to cost and location, so I didn’t see the point in applying to more schools. They were all supposed to be safety schools. BOI I WAS WRONG. I ended up getting into all of them. But the school I was planning to go to didn’t accept me into my major which was devastating, cause the transfer process would have been super difficult. I ended up choosing a really expensive school in New York cause it was the next best option. The third and last school was horrific.
Anyway back to my senior year. College application sucked and that's when my anxiety and nervousness started. These symptoms are kinda like depression but not... It's like you're a different person since you usually would respond differently. This anxiety got so bad I would cry myself to sleep at night about college applications. I was also in a relationship around this time which meant I worried about EVERYTHING. Like “why hasn't he texted me back”, “what if he wants to break up?” “did I say something wrong?”. Yea I was a mess.
Next symptoms were fatigue, I may have had hyperthyroidism but that doesn’t mean I'm constantly hyper. Honestly, I rarely felt energetic. I was always tired and was constantly sleeping. This was the symptoms that after the first semester got me to ask my mom to get me another blood test. I was so tired of constantly feeling tired. I was forcing myself to do work and just couldn’t focus on anything. I got really into League of legends that year because it would distract my mind and would use minimal effort physically. Also, the adrenaline would wake me up.
Hockey was really hard to go to. I just wanted to sleep and not move. But I didn’t want to disappoint my dad so I kept going to practice even though I felt like I was about to pass out each time.
The last symptom during the first semester I had is loss of appetite. Which was unusual for me. I have a bad relationship with food. So I eat all the time to deal with boredom and stress. Still dealing with it so that's why I'm right in the present tense. This lack of appetite made it so much easier to deal with food. I would only eat when I was hungry and I wasn’t hungry most of the time, so I ate a normal amount of food. However, during the second semester, I slowly started eating less and less because certain foods would make me sick. Like at first meat would disgust me than vegetables and then dairy. Just the thought of it would make me sick.
I got a blood test which showed even more elevated levels. The difference now was that I had symptoms. So we went to some Russian lady, and let me preface this by saying my opinion of people starts really high so you have to do a lot to make me dislike you. She said I was going through “a hormonal phase” or more scientifically I had subacute thyroiditis caused by the flu I had at the beginning of January.
I was happy to hear I didn’t need medication so I went on with my life. The placebo effect made me feel better and I thought I was genuinely recovering. I started writing and drawing more. Although at this point I could barely exercise. It made me feel exhausted and I going on a 10-minute walk would make me winded. I told myself I was just out of shape. The lack of appetite progressed, and so did my fatigue. I was taking a weight lifting class my second semester and it was hard because there was no one to talk to, and it made me feel like crap doing any form of exercise. The TEACHER had the nerve to give me a 0/5 one day for not working out because I was too tired. WELL, I WAS SICK SO I HAD AN EXCUSE. It’s okay my grade survived I finished with an A. But I still didn’t know I was sick.
My birthday was in early May and we had AP’s the second and third week of May then prom, senior events and finally graduation. So let’s start with my birthday, the main thing I remember from that week was how hard it was to focus in class. I couldn’t sleep because my heart would be beating too fast, another symptom, and I couldn’t pay attention because I was too tired. So I played paper.io. It distracted my mind enough so i was doing something cause not doing anything was the most excruciating feeling imaginable. That Thursday the teacher called me out, but in a more lighthearted way. FUN FACT: he actually has hypothyroidism, what a small world.
The second time not being able to focus was the next day the Friday before my weekend birthday party trip, it was my 8th period class Material science. We basically made different molds and tested different material properties. I finished my work and was playing paper.io because again I couldn’t sleep despite my efforts. Now to demonstrate how painful it was to not be doing something, ill share some information. Im a standard goody two shoes, I always follow directions and hate upsetting those in authority. BUT despite that, I knew the teacher was going behind me on the computer I didn’t switch tabs for a couple of minutes till the teacher would go back to the front because those moments were more painful than the emotional whiplash of being called out by a teacher. He threatened to take away my computer access, even though there were only two weeks of school left. The funny part is I didn’t actually use computers after that day because I got so sick. SO JOKES ON HIM.... or is it ON ME.
The birthday party was a three-hour drive two-night weekend getaway sorta thing. The most noticeable thing was that I was really easily annoyed, but other then that and some car sickness I liked the trip. Now Monday was my birthday and it went like most birthdays on school days, hugs and some presents, and apologies about presents being delayed. Overall I was happy, my parents remembered my birthday. Looking back I realize that might of been because of the birthday party but still props to them. AND I EVEN GOT A PRESENT, well technically money but it's still a gift. My parents stopped giving me birthday gifts when I was 12 sooo yeaaa it was an achievement. They probably did that because I was turning 18.
In psychology, there is a theory of disease and mindset, such that people are more likely to die after their birthday or important event because they are no longer have anything to look forward too in the distant future. In my case, I was trying to survive long enough to get my 18th birthday party but not long enough for AP’s unfortunately.
On the day after my birthday Tuesday my condition deteriorated, and quickly. I had a horrible headache at school and could barely eat food. I would wake up multiple times a night and was constantly hot and thirsty. I left school after my third class and thankfully didn’t have to attend weight lifting which was my fourth class. I was too sick to do anything even though I wanted to study for math, I had to study for math I thought. Remember I still thought I was cured of hyperthyroidism. I miss my math test and plan to make it up monday and I vividly remember contemplating going to school on Friday and choosing not to. I went to the doctor and she said I had an elevated heart rate of 108 and lost some weight. Both of which were symptoms.
I am 5’4” and weighed 120 Ibs end of junior year and then senior year winter weighed 115 Ibs and then at that appointment weight 111 Ibs. I assumed I was losing muscle cause I wasn’t exercising but I was also losing fat and muscle due to lack of nutrition, cause I wasn't eating. The doctor said to go see the endocrinologist again, the Russian lady that said it was just a phase, cause my thyroid was swollen. Now if it was just a phase then shouldn’t it have gone away by now? Disclaimer I have nothing against russian people, I am russian and that's actually how we found her. I'm just referring to her as a russian lady in this story.
We go to pay her a visit and she weighs me takes my pulse. It’s two days later and I now weigh 108 pounds and have a heart rate of 127 bpm which is like exercising. She says it's just a phase, AGAIN, and prescribed me propranolol for my heart. My mom didn’t like her the first time but at this point, she hates her and is convinced I am being misdiagnosed. She also scheduled an ultrasound of my neck and an iodine test. I didn’t know this at the time BUT IODINE IS BAD FOR YOUR THYROID. And she wanted to use that as a test to see if my thyroid was actually the one making me have all these symptoms. WE KNEW IT WAS MY THYROID FROM THE FREAKING BLOOD TESTS. At the time my mind was unstable and I was like “ShE’s THe doC gOTtA lIsTeN tO HeR riGhT??” I know I am a naive person but why would she want to put me at risk?
My mom being the mentally sane one of us booked another doctor and we went to him all while I was missing my last two weeks of school. I would take my heart medicine two times a day but it felt like it was barely doing anything so I started taking it 3 times a day and then it kinda helped but was still a low dose :(.
The new doctor took my weight and bpm and not it was 104 pounds and 145 bpm. I was clearly getting worse and fast too like this was a couple of days apart each. At this point I was underweight and in a very messed up way, I guess I achieved my ideal body type. I was for the first time in a long time happy with my body. Although at the time I didn’t think the suffering and sacrifice of my entire life was worth the price of that body and I would have gladly take my old body back just so I could be healthy again. But future me would learn that getting healthy was a really long journey.
The doctor said he thought I had graves disease but to double check, I had to take a more detailed blood test to test my T3 which funny enough was supposed to be on my original blood test but was accidentally forgotten. I took a blood test, and the next appointment was in a week and it was between two other patients since he was booked for the next two months he had to make an exception for my condition. But the doc deemed my condition life-threatening because he ended up changing it to two days after the first one. My T3 was at an alert level and he gave me really strong thyroid medication. And I slowly would taper it down. Prom was the next day and I still would feel dizzy walking or standing so most of the time I was sitting. I threw up at the restaurant from overexertion and after that, I actually felt great. Prom itself was kinda boring so we started playing cards.
All my senior events were kinda me slowly recovering and being able to walk for longer. I wasn’t allowed to exercise due to the heart medicine nor was I really capable of it. A good example of this was when I was at the senior picnic my friends started jogging towards the picnic tables from the field where we were, and I instinctively tried to follow. Except after two steps I toppled over and hit my head on the ground. One of my guy friends walked up and asked: “why is Sofia KO’ed on the ground?”. It wasn’t really that embarrassing it was just shocking that I lost so much muscle that I couldn’t even jog. It was also partly due to fatigue so later when the medicine was more effective I started being able to run and jog.
When the summer came so did a lot of unexpected hardships and mental barriers. Such as summer jobs. Math placement exam. And slowing metabolism making me gain weight and affect my self-image. All of these I either dealt with or am dealing with. This was an introduction to my story which is why it was so long. I left out a lot and maybe will talk about it at a later date but for now, I think this entry is long enough as is.