This I Believe

Alisa - Tampa, Florida
Entered on November 14, 2006

I believe in accepting those things you can’t change, and fighting like hell for those which you can. This might sound simple, but the true difference is often lost in our drive for a desired outcome. It’s just recently that I’m starting to understand the necessity of distinguishing between the two.

When I was eighteen months old, I was diagnosed with a condition wherein my immune system is overactive and attacks me. This description is one I rely on to silence questions. It conveniently excludes my least favorite part of the disease. The chosen part of ‘me’ that is attacked is my colon: I have ulcerative colitis.

My parents, over protective by nature, were handed an excuse to hide behind when attempting to be in complete control of my social life. In their attempt to coddle me they ended up isolating me from those I truly wished to blend with. The detrimental effects of ‘positive stress’ was a disguise for their regulation on how much fun I was able to have. Part of my resentment goes towards the disease itself, but the rest I do save for their stifling reaction to it.

I spent a year on steroids, with side effects that made me gain thirty pounds and a shattered self image. At the age of thirteen, I couldn’t think of anything worse to be going through and even though there is no medical cure for colitis, I decided I would not let my self be victimized by my disease any longer.

My brilliant way to cure myself was quite simple; I was given this disease, and I could therefore take it away. So I decided to ignore it. Stop taking medicine. Act like everyone else. On the outside it worked but, I had dumbly convinced myself it would fix my problems that were more than skin deep. A few months later, conceived ignorance proved the wrong prescription for controlling constant pain. Two weeks of absence from everyday life, and solid food, spent in a stiff hospital bed was the consequence. I realized I was wrong.

Somewhere between realizing that I had to accept my disease and my parents, who were so overwhelming before, saying they were giving up on me since they thought I had no desire to help myself, I knew my approach was going to have to change. The fact that I was going to have this wasn’t changing. What I cold control, however, was my reaction to it: how much I was going to let it affect my daily life. And in my attempt to dominate the disease, I let the only aspect I could have power over end up owning me. It’s important to recognize the difference to save heartache and preserve determination. Some things can be changed, it all depends on how it’s dealt with. This, I believe.