In just over 6 months I turn 35. I’ll have been alive been alive 30 years longer than doctors expected. And I’m proud of that. A lot prouder than I am of most things in my life, because it marks me as a survivor against all odds. The scar that runs from my left under arm up my shoulder blade from open heart surgery as a 6 week old baby in 1982 reminds me of it daily.
I’ve overcome a lot in those extra years. I’ve been through endless medical visits. I’ve dealt with abuse and bullying. I’ve had physical, emotional, and mental issues to face, and I’ve always come out stronger. I face pain on a daily basis, but I do it with a smile and grace (most of the time), because each day is an extra gift that I didn’t expect. That doesn’t mean to say I’ve always seen it that way, but it’s how I see it now.
I’ve attempted suicide five times in those extra 30 years. But I’ve never succeeded. I’ve been stopped by loved ones in the nick of time, by a stranger once, and by my guardian angel twice. I’ve self harmed, I’ve suffered from anorexia and bulimia, I have PTSD Asperger’s, endometriosis, asthma, Irlen Syndrome, and severe anxiety, and there are days I want to hide under the covers with a razor blade but I choose not to.
I get frustrated at things, I get angry, I scream, I rant, I shout, just like the next person. I also go into meltdown and shutdown periods. I am far from perfect. But I am learning and I am evolving. I am changing and I am understanding what is right for me as I get older. And that means that I am closing chapters in my life, as well opening new ones. It’s a scary process but it’s an amazing experience.
I am choosing to look after me as I come to terms with my diagnoses of fibromyalgia and auto immune arthritis. To learn what they mean in regards to my abilities and my life. I’m learning to understand how they work in conjunction with my other disabilities and conditions, and how I can push myself whilst pacing myself, and how they change my advocacy mission.
Will I be here for another 30 years? I can’t answer that. But I do know that I can honestly say that I hope so. And I hope to be as grateful for each of the days that comes. I hope to be able to smile at my chosen family and greet them with the hugs and love that I do now, even if I don’t have the energy I once did. I want them to know how grateful I am that they are in my life. And on my 35th birthday this year, I want to open my eyes and smile, knowing that I made it despite what my mum was told. And that whilst she’s not here to see it, I’m still going strong, with her in my heart.