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This morning, I woke up feeling terrible. This isn’t uncommon. I wasn’t hungover. I don’t have the flu, at least, not yet.

Throughout my life I have suffered from a weak immune system. Every vaccination I remember triggered a bad reaction from me* and sent me reeling back to the doctor with sky high fevers. My mom tells me that when I was a toddler, I used to get horrible ear infections. They eventually discovered my back teeth had come in with no enamel. Once they put silver crowns on my back teeth, the ear problem stopped. It was weird and rare, but not the end.

I’ve always had trouble sleeping. Initially, I thought I just liked staying up late, but I soon realized it was a curse. Every parent/teacher conference resulted in my mom feeling awful, because my teachers blamed her for me coming to class with dark circles under my eyes and spending all day yawning. They thought she had some kind of parental Munchhausen problem.

At 10, I took a hearing test to find out if I had issues. I passed with flying colors.

When I was 12, my mom took me to a specialist to find out if I had a learning disorder since I didn’t seem to qualify for ADD (one of my teachers thought I might have it). He tested me, trying to make it light and fun so I wouldn’t become nervous or think something was wrong with me. He told my mom I had some kind of learning problem, but he was unsure what it was.

At the age of 13, while other kids my age were complaining to their parents about curfews and lobbying for later bedtimes, I was begging my mom to get me sleeping pills from the doctor so I could sleep through the night. We had tried warm milk, classical music, everything. I could exercise until I was exhausted, but I still couldn’t sleep at night. In fact, exercising in general became difficult for me. It seemed that every time I exerted myself, I got sick. I had bad allergies that just seemed to get worse over time in spite of allergy testing and injections.

One day towards the end of my high school years, a doctor finally diagnosed me with a chronic pain disorder. My mom and I cried, because it had taken almost two decades for us to get any kind of recognition that we were not insane. Even with this, people didn’t understand, and many doctors and the general public believed it was made up. It was a step in the right direction, but not the finality of war with my body.

The primary reason I finished college was in order to stay on my dad’s health insurance as long as possible. It was the only thing that kept me from dropping out, because I knew I went to the doctor so frequently that my cost would be astronomical. Eighteen was a momentous occasion for me, not because I could vote, but because my mom wouldn’t allow me to get sleeping medication before I became a legal adult. While most college kids were pulling all nighters, I was finally sleeping for the first time in my life. I still experienced pain, exhaustion, and illness, but I was beginning to feel more normal.

Last Friday night, I came home from a long shift. My back was killing me. My sinuses burned. I felt like an 80 year old, even though I’m under 35. I sobbed with my entire being, loudly at 2am because of how badly my back hurt while I’m waiting for my insurance to become effective. I confessed to my husband that days like this, I welcome death because the idea of continuing to live in pain and frustration for the rest of my life like this overflows the cup of what I think I can take. Depression is far too familiar to me.

This morning after another fitful night, I felt like everything was too much. Then my husband sent me this:

Even struggling with a health condition my entire life, I still manage to have moments where I can win. Some people say it’s a matter of believing you can. I would like to let them know that although my hope is constantly reset, my body beats my mind every time. I still get sick more than ever. Insanity is described as “doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.” This accurately sums up my optimism.

Upon watching this video, I bawled my eyes out in our living room. Thank you, Derrick Coleman, for reminding me that even those of us who are broken or breaking are not alone in our fight. Even though every day is a battle and our lives are an endless war, there are moments of peace in which we support and find comradery in one another.

We are not alone.

I am not the maker of this commercial, nor do I hold any rights over distribution or copyright for the video. The blog post category only refers to the written opinion/history of its blogger.

*Note: I am a firm believer in vaccinations, I just wanted to acknowledge that I had a reaction.