3LOL is what third-year law students fondly refer to the final year of law school. There’s a saying that the first year they scare you to death; the second year they work you to death; the third year they bore you to death. Thus far, I’d say this is pretty accurate.
It’s the eve of my last “first day of the school year.” Yes, there’s a “first day” for the spring term, but unless I decide to add another degree (which, after five, I think I need a break for a while, at least from standardized degree programs), then for all intents and purposes, this is my last go-around. I have a backpack on my bed with a pen, a computer charger, and I’ll probably throw in a notebook for good measure.
This time last year I wrote this post about my apprehension starting back at law school after being gone the previous year. Tonight marks *roughly* two years since I made the difficult decision to take a leave of absence from law school. Many said I’d never come back, because if we’re being honest, anyone who goes to law school is a glutton for punishment. The readings are more often than not drop-dead boring, the classes seem like they’ll never end, and more than anything, the competitive atmosphere is something my anxiety and stress-induced symptoms could really do without.
And yet, I’m here.
I have a small pile of books and a thoroughly upset stomach, but I’m still here.
I want to see this thing through. I don’t think it’s fair to say law school made me sick. Sure, it exacerbated symptoms I’d been putting off for quite some time, many of which were caused and/or heavily triggered by traumas I went through during and immediately after college. While the night terrors and cold sweats are fewer and far between, every time I throw up or fear I can’t leave the bathroom because my symptoms will get worse, I’m reminded of those times.
I’m also reminded of how far I’ve come.
Tomorrow marks a renewed commitment to myself that I can do this and to others following along on my journey that no hurdle is too great to overcome. I honestly thought for the better part of the year I was away that I’d never return. The symptoms were too severe, the stigma of being “that girl that left” would be too embarrassing, and just, how do you cope when you’re the only one going through something like that?
I have to say I think a huge reason I’ve been able to *more or less* deal with everything is in thanks to an incredible support system. While I certainly gave more than my fair share of sass and worry to them, they supported me and my decision to get this done, come hell or high water.
Additionally, I’ve found an incredible community online filled with fellow bloggers, grammers, and new friends around the globe whom I’ve connected with for one reason or another. For you, I am eternally grateful because going through something like this is much less isolating when you know others are fighting their own battles alongside you as your navigate your own.
Chronic illnesses are often overlooked because no one can see the suffering. No one can hear my silent worries and my not so silent breakdowns when I feel like I can’t keep everything together.
As much as I feel like social media is this reflective surface we all try to project our best, most light-hearted selves, for me, it is (and always has been) a way to document my progress and share when shit’s not so pretty. Two years ago this summer, I was on my hands and knees in my one-bedroom apartment begging God to not let me die. Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong, every organ was malfunctioning in my body, and most tests came back with ambiguous answers.
I was so hopeless and frustrated with my body. My mind was going a million miles a minute (and oftentimes still does) about how I wish I could rewind to more carefree days when I’d go to the gym every morning before classes in college and dance the night away with my friends.
Sometimes I still have days when I miss that girl. I miss how she looked at the world with such hope and possibility. Don’t get me wrong, I still thing the world is full of opportunities, I’m just a bit more cautious before I leap into new things. As much as I yearn for that life back, I know I’m a thousand times stronger than I was then. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of frustration or despair for the knowledge I have now that even at my darkest, lowest moments, no fight is worth giving up.
So many people don’t have a choice when their fight is over. Since my diagnos-ish, I’ve met so many souls that have lost their fights. Cancer, accidents, homicide-you name it, I’ve come across it and it’s pained my heart because at many points in my journey I’ve really struggled with why I’ve had to endure what I’ve gone through and others aren’t suffering anymore. Depressing, most definitely. Grim, you betcha…but that’s the reality of living with a chronic illness. It’s fucking depressing and it gets you down when you least expect it.
Fuck, I’m crying now as I write this because I never fucking thought in my lifetime that I’d be so close to finishing something that seemed impossible when I fell on the bathroom floor my first semester in law school and was bleeding uncontrollably everywhere. My parents told me I’d pull through but I didn’t believe them. Hell, even the dog I had adopted (before the one I gush over now) had died tragically and it took almost a year before I could say her name without crying.
To some of my classmates tomorrow, it’ll just be another night to go out and celebrate the start of our last year with a beer. To me, this is hands-down one of the most pivotal days of my professional career because I’ve stared directly at my demons and said “to hell with it.”