Dear Teen Me:
You're in the hospital right now, curled up in a ball and wheezing in pain. The doctors have you on bed rest because every time you try to stand up the world goes black. You weigh just less than 90 pounds, and you haven't eaten in months. It's not because you don't want to eat; it's because keeping food down is like nailing Jell-O to the wall, impossible. You dry heave over a metal bed pan the nurse gave you, but nothing but this disgusting yellow and brown stuff ever comes up. The nurses tell you that the yellow stuff is bile and the brown stuff is blood.
They used to do tests on you every day. They would come in with their needles and poke you until they found a vein that hadn't yet been siphoned from yet. You have track marks on your arms from all the blood tests. They would bring you down to labs with giant machines and take x-rays and MRI's. They shoved a tube with a camera on it down your throat and through your digestive system to see if there were any abnormalities, there never were. So they stopped testing you.
You're growing weaker each day. It takes up all your energy just to breath. Your family takes turns visiting you, each of them arriving with a smile plastered on their face and a positive attitude. Despite all of their efforts, you can tell that they've been crying. Their red- swollen eyes give them away. The doctors have told them that you're going to die. The body needs nutrients to survive. The doctors can give you fluids through an IV but they can't give you food because you never keep it down. If you don't keep something down soon, you will die.
You welcome death with open arms. It's not in you to quit but you can't fathom a life confined to a hospital bed dry-heaving over a bed pan. You would rather die than continue through the pain and the suffering, which no one can tell you will eventually end. You begin to think of ways to speed up the process, you devise a plan to get your hands on some pills, or a knife, or anything lethal.
How do I know all of this? I was there too; I lived through it just as you are living through it now. I am writing this letter to tell you that you will survive, so you can stop thinking up ways to kill yourself now. The doctors will never really figure out what is wrong with you, but eventually your symptoms will stop all on their own. Your teenage years will be spent in and out of hospitals and emergency rooms. There will be times when you feel sorry for yourself, like you've wasted your life away. But you will be stronger because of it. It takes a special person to go through what you have gone through and survive. You are a warrior.
This experience will carry you through the rest of your life positively. You have the ability to look at the world with elephant eyes (because elephants have an air of wisdom about them). Things that bother most people won't bother you; you will laugh through the tough things and get through them easily with a smile on your face. People will look up to you in the future for your strength. You will use your experience with sickness to help others through the tough times in their lives.
So use this letter as a pillar of light in the darkness that surrounds you now. You can beat the odds and pull yourself out of this. You can stair illness straight in the eye and tell it to fuck off. I know that the only thing you really needed to hear from me is that the pain will eventually end. I haven't been sick in seven years. I've got meat on my hips and cushioning on my bum. I can sit down and eat a whole plate of pasta, garlic bread, and salad without feeling that pain in the pit of my stomach. I am able to go camping without worrying that I will get sick in the middle of nowhere. I can go to a BBQ and not worry that people will judge me for not eating anything. You will be able to do all of these things one day too. It will slowly get better. Until then, hold onto my words and know that everything will be okay in the end.
Jessica (adult version)