What I Want You To Know About Being a Sick Teenager

What I Want You to Know is a series of reader submissions. It is an attempt to allow people to tell their personal stories, in the hopes of bringing greater compassion to the unique issues each of us face. If you would like to submit a story to this series, click here. Today’s guest post is by Scout.


I'm sixteen. I'm middle class, I never worry about food, I have friends. But I'm a lesbian, I'm chronically ill and mentally ill and I dropped out of school because I was failing every single class. My sleep schedule is so messed up that I can only sleep after sunrise and I wake up just as the sun sets. I don't leave the house except to visit doctors. I take pill after pill and medicated creams and I can't stay away from home in case a migraine hits. I can't go on long walks, which I loved to do, because I get so tired so quickly.

A lot of the time, people tell you that you need to follow the straight and narrow to live a fulfilling life. I never expected anything else. My brother graduated top of his year with straight A's and honors and is now studying Commerce. But I've fallen off the wagon, and rethinking my entire life is the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

It's really scary, realizing you're sick. You can't do things like you used to. It's so hard to accept that you just aren't capable anymore. You feel useless, and you want to do something but you're too tired all the time. When people ask what school I attend there's an awkward silence before I say I dropped out. I'm smart, I want to tell them. I used to get awards for my creative writing, I was in the top five percentile for every damn subject. But I either explain that my body is broken or let them think my mind is. Yeah, I take drugs, but they're legal.

Once you adjust to not being able to live the life you thought you would, you realize there's an expected way for things to go in the world of physical and mental illness too. You show symptoms, you get diagnosed, you get treatment, you recover. But I've gotten far worse since I was diagnosed. I've gone downhill, collected diagnoses like trophies and it's so shocking. Things are meant to get better when you put a name to the enemy. But most of the time they don't. That's what I want people to know, that just because you get worse doesn't mean treatment is hopeless. You will recover. And at least you'll get worse with the support you need.

I have a huge list of fancy words describing my shattered and beautiful body. I've been to the emergency room too many times to count. I spent my Christmas Day there and my brother came into the hospital dressed as Santa to give me my presents. Being sick in your formative years, on top of the usual rampant and awful hormones and changes, can be terrible. But it can bring unique life experiences that prepare you for adulthood.

So for any young teens trolling the web for help like I did once, please know that it will get better. That stupid, corny advice is true. Look forward to it.

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