THE BLOG
09/29/2015 03:20 pm ET Updated Sep 29, 2016

What It Means to Be 24 Years Old and Sick

I'm 24 years old, and for the past six years, I've been in and out of the hospital, in countless doctor's offices and in two different mental health treatment centers. I've missed out on a lot. I never quite got the college experience I wanted -- I've had to drop out of school three times on three different medical leaves. I feel like I'm behind. I look around me, and my peers are out of their hometowns, on their own, working salary jobs and enjoying the bar scene on the weekends. My life is quite the opposite. I haven't graduated college, I spend my days following a strict medicinal regimen for all of my diagnoses, and I can't seem to hold a job because of my fibromyalgia pain, or my stomach pain or because I'm just too depressed. I can't eat the same way most people can, I can't drink and I can't be independent of my parents yet because I'm not stable enough to hold a job or well enough to live on my own.

Although there has been wisdom that has come with the suffering, it doesn't make it any less harder. I want to pursue acting, but it is a physically and emotionally demanding career that I can't stomach right now (no pun intended) because sometimes, I can't even get out of bed. I never know when my stomach is going to send me on the kitchen floor, wailing out in pain. I never know when I'll have a sleepless night. I never know when I'll feel like life isn't worth living.

Lately, I've been on essentially the paleo diet, and my mood started to get better. Eliminating carbs, sugar and dairy gave me moments of clarity. However, the past three days have been excruciating. I've been in so much pain it's hard to move. So how do I stay optimistic when six years of life experience is working against me, telling me things won't change?

I'm 24 years old and feel like I'm still 18. I feel like my life outside of my parents hasn't started yet. For years they've had to hold my hand through the hardships, take care of me and stay by my side when other friends haven't. I feel different. I feel unique, and not in a good way. I just want to be on my own, pursuing what I love and feeling good in my mind and body. But it's a lengthy process, and quite frankly, I'm exhausted. I just hope my one woman show is what can keep me going. It isn't for four months, but I need it to keep me uplifted. Theatre is my passion, it's my art, it's my love. If I can tell my story and help someone who feels like they can't put to words their own suffering, I will be the happiest person alive. It is with this show that I hope to inspire both myself and others around me. Let's just hope I stay healthy enough to go through with it.

I'm finally starting to dream big about it. Starting to think about submitting it to festivals and competitions after its debut in Maryland in January. I've never dreamed big in my life. I've felt cramped by my illnesses, but now it's time to let myself be someone other than my disorders. I am not my disorder, I am not my disease. My life might not have started before this moment, but it's starting now.