"I wish I could stand here and tell you that I – a 20 year old – have never had and don’t have a lot of struggles but life isn’t so easy after all.
About 3 years ago, in 2018, I was diagnosed with abdominal tuberculosis and it was very sudden – I was completely healthy besides the fact that I had a very sedentary lifestyle like those of most teenagers today. Although it’s a very common condition, it can simply go undetected given that it has the ability of curing itself. In my case – we caught it early and it got bad. It all started with a minor discomfort on the last day of my grade twelve. Since it was just a feeling of discomfort, I brushed it off but it got worse when that feeling prolonged, turned into frustration and then into pain. Laying down to ‘rest’ was the absolute worst and even with the slightest turn in bed I could feel something moving inside my stomach.
Multiple doctors and tests later, they found cysts around my intestines but the fluid in the chest cavity was a trouble point. I was in the hospital for about 3 weeks, drowsy with bottles of medication. Recovery took another month leaving loneliness as my only companion. I had to take precaution like eating home cooked food and staying away from animals; difficult for me because I am an equestrian, I had to stop riding too.
Eventually I got back to school only to know that things weren’t the same anymore. I had gained a lot of weight because of the treatment and my friends pushed me out completely – most of them stopped talking to me. Some of my classmates even bullied me, they’d call me ‘ghoda’ and throw cuss words at me.
I was at my worst because grade twelve is a very crucial year and although I was academically smart, I just couldn’t cope up with my studies. This feeling of constant agony led me to fall into depression and develop anxiety that broke me down further. I was too sick to do anything – both mentally and physically. I wasn’t living but simply existing. Riding horses was my passion and not being able to do something that I absolutely loved made it too hard for me to survive. Being busy with school, there was no time for me to reflect on my feelings and I fell into a routine like a robot that was barely functioning. Being the only child, I didn’t have the heart to tell my overprotective parents about what I was going through.
I changed my perspective towards the situation and kept saying to myself, ‘I will get through this.’ Once school ended, I thought everything will get better – I was leaving everything behind but somehow it didn’t. 9 months into my battle, the doctor intimated that if my infection was gone, I’d be able to ride again but that wasn’t the case. I was back to square one – medicines continued and frustration remained. To get my mind someplace else, I started doing mixed martial arts, even though I started losing weight - my mood swings shot up, I started getting angry easily and began fighting with my parents, the same people who were my only support system the whole time.
On 1st July 2019, the doctor told me I was 100% cured and was now free to live my life on my own terms. I can’t stress on this fact enough but when the doctor tells you news this big – it gives you the confidence that things are finally falling back into place. Over the upcoming months, not only did I rank top among the top 10 in my class but also my parents let me ride again. It helped me cope mentally and I started socialising more, made new friends in college. Things were turning around – mixed martial arts helped me get fit again, while riding gave me the satisfaction I always craved for. I was finally happy. The period of me being self-reserved finally came to an end. People treating me badly back then has now given me the ability to see through the new people I meet – trust issues developed.
When you go through early trauma, it prepares you for a lot that’s about to come. Once I got better, I became more independent and over time it all seemed so much better. I just had to wait. The same people who bullied me in school were reaching out to praise my skills and strengths. I don’t even feel like sticking it back to them now, I only thanked them for their kind words. When you learn to be happy on your own – that is a win. When you don’t have anything against someone who did wrong to you – that is a win. The best thing is to make yourself happy – if you work towards showing it to someone else, it is not worth it. That person might not care or even notice, so just walk away. Something I learnt on this journey was don’t be too hard on yourself, you’re only human at the end of the day and you’re about to make mistakes – embrace your journey.”