13th Year

I am 18 years old and i was diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis 13 years ago. When I was five years old my mom realized that the roof of my mouth was yellow. When I was taken to the doctor it took them forever to figure out what was wrong. I dont really remember the beginning stages at all though just thing I was told. The only thing I do remember is my mom having to put my meds in icecream because I refused to take them because I didnt understand. I didnt understand why I had to take them but my sisters didnt. As I grew older I realized what was going on as I felt like my life was being taking away from. First my body gaining alot of weight. Then basketball was taken from me, I lived to play basketball. Then skin rashes that I cant help your face and stuff is really important to you as a teenager. Having it did keep me from getting wasted at parties and stuff thats a good thing. Its weird how no matter how sick i got the only thing that mattered to me was those things. I think thats what has kept me sane through it all. Never really realizing the really bad things until now.

Noni92 Noni92
18-21, T
2 Responses Aug 12, 2010

Welcome abcdchic7! That's rough! It is really hard not being able to drink when you are this age, and well College is a whole different ball-park! There's drunk, then there's college drunk! <br />
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I don't want to say that I know how you feel because I don't, but I do want to share my college story with you in the hope that you don't feel as isolated as I did when I went through my college years as a young adult with autoimmune hepatitis. <br />
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I took a year off to save up some money before going to University. During this time I met a guy who distracted me from all the family drama that was going on at the time (including my father being diagnosed with colon cancer - but I won't go into that here as that is not what this is about). <br />
But even though all of that was going on I was determined to go to uni to study zoology - I wanted to make something with my life - I was sick of feeling like I wasn't in control of my life! So I moved states and became a resident at the university college dormitories. I ba<x>sed my decision to move into college because I didn't know anyone and thought that it would be a fantastic way to meet new people and make lots of friends. But I really had no idea what I was in for!<br />
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O'week is nuts! It's all about getting drunk and picking up. Now that isn't a problem if you are the average 19 year old (which I was at the time) but I wasn't. I had just started a long distance relationship with the man I left back home as well as leaving my family and sick father (who insisted that I go even though he was sick) while attempting to manage my own chronic illness. So how was college for me?<br />
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To be honest, it all seems like one big blurry mess! That's the best way to describe it - MESSY!<br />
I got drunk pretty much every day as I didn't know how else to cope. So I got sicker and sicker. Every time I drank I knew I shouldn't be doing it, but I did it anyway because I didn't know how else to cope. That is all that anyone ever did, and I believed at the time that if I was to make friends I needed to be a part of it! But then I got sicker. When I finally got around to seeing a specialist in my new state it was 3 months in (the medical system here is really really bad!) and i get told that I am on 3 times the dosage of medication than I am suppose to be on... WHAT!? This obviously created mixed feelings of anger at the people who had stuffed it up in the first place and self- guilt for not double checking that it was right. It also made me second-guess any one who had the word 'Doctor' in front of their names -when really they were the people I needed to be placing my trust in. <br />
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So for 3 months I was drinking, attempting to make a very unhealthy long distance relationship work and trying to distract myself from the guilt I felt for not being around Dad when he needs me most... and not knowing whether I would see him again. So as the days and weeks progressed... I became more and more depressed... then once i found out about the medication I sunk into an even deeper depression. I kept drinking as a way to numb myself and also as a way to punish myself... which obviously wasn't helping the AIH or my mental well-being. Then I hit breaking point and had to be hospitalised for both AIH and depression. But I didn't tell anyone about it.... I never told anyone that I was struggling with AIH and how it made me feel but instead tried to protend that nothing was wrong. <br />
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But why did I do all of this? I did all of this because it is what I thought I had to do to fit in and make friends! <br />
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But what I know now, which I didn't know then is... that those friends that I did make... would have accepted me for who I was if only I told them the truth. If I told them what I was really going on I would have felt less isolated and wouldn't have had to cope with it all on my own.<br />
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So my advise to you is this: Drinking is fun - yes, but the truth is 'we' (as sufferers of AIH) can't drink and there is no denying that. However, not being able to drink does not deny you of the fun that you can have as a 21 year old (or even a 25 year old- as I am now). Fun depends on the people you share it with. So surround yourself with understanding people who understand why you can't drink and don't give a hoot and are still happy for you to be there with them all while they do, and are also happy to spend time with you doing things other than drinking.<br />
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Recently I had a conversation with one of my college friends about all of this and she seemed so shocked! (She had no idea that any of it was ever going on). Then she said "you know I would have never cared that you couldn't drink, all I cared about was that I didn't get to see you as much anymore and that i didn't understand why you were so sad!" <br />
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So, just be open... and if they sook about it then they are not worth your time! There are people out there who won't care- because they care more about who you are than whether or not you can get drunk.<br />
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Hope this helps.

You seem really positive about the whole thing. I especially like the part about the ice-cream :) How do you cope with not being able to drink at parties or when you go out? I still struggle with that and I am 24. I stopped going out a while ago because I didn't like being around people that were tiddled when I wasn't

Yeah, I just got diagnosed a few weeks ago....3 days before my 21'st birthday. It's hard to deal with when you go to college and everyone wants to know why you can't drink.