10 Things You Learn When You Think You’re Going to Die

A few months ago (and I’m still not really sure how this whole Mystery Illness is going to turn out), I admit it, I thought I was going to straight up die. I thought I was going to die slowly, in a hospital somewhere, with no diagnosis, probably alone in Los Angeles. I never really thought enough about dying alone to be afraid of it. It didn’t make much sense to me. Who cares? No one really knows what dying is like anyway – what’s the difference if you’re with someone or alone? Feeling deep inside that you may be dying brings about certain truths

  1. You’re not who you think you are

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I’m not a person who lives in Los Angeles and wants to work in television and make entertainment-y things. I don’t care about money – I never have. I also never cared about making films or television in the way my colleagues have. They want to entertain. I want to use the platform to help others. I find science incredibly interesting and love writing. I want to travel, hike, ski, and grow my own garden. I want to study homeopathic medicine. I also think I might hate cities.


2. You’re not alone

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At first, in a city I could barely call home after living there for just over a year, I felt incredibly alone. It was difficult to find people (and awkward to ask) to drive me to the doctor or visit me in the hospital when I couldn’t drive or do anything myself. My family, on the other hand – my friends who I’ve known my whole life, would be there for me…in New York. I despise NY for so many reasons and probably always will, but I can’t deny that I have a home there. Despite all that, I still had people in LA (not the people I expected) who were there for me in hard times and helped me out as much as they could. You’re surrounded with good people wherever you go.


3. Being with others and reading are the best ways to spend your time

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…for me, at least. I cherished the time I spent with everyone, even people I couldn’t normally stand. Anytime I was alone, I read anything and everything. It soothed me. It helped me ignore my constant terrifying thoughts about what the hell was going on.


4. You become grateful for everything

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I was grateful for the goddamn dirt beneath my feet, clean water, clean air, and having a family – literally any family to help me out. Anything anyone did for me made me cry with gratefulness. After receiving a simple card, I started crying. Flowers? I was crying. I couldn’t stop saying thank you. It was like I was on my period but somehow grateful for everything.


5. You regret not working out or eating as healthy as you could have

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Oh my gosh, why wasn’t I one of those early risers who got up and went on a run every day? Why didn’t I force myself to eat chlorophyll and kelp flakes every day? I thought I was healthy before, but there was still more I could do. Infrared saunas? Why didn’t I have a detox regimen? A daily probiotic? I laid in bed wishing I could go out and run to destress from not being able to walk…and I hate running.


6. You accept the possibility of death

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When I was flying home to NY to be with people who cared about me and could care for me, the plane flew through a storm in the Midwest and we hit a bunch of turbulence. It was bad, probably the worst turbulence I have ever experienced. Normally, I think I’d have been a little scared, but I was so afraid of this undiagnosable illness and the possibility of dying alone in a hospital that dying in a plane crash sounded great. I kind of hoped for it. Instead, I smiled and remained at peace, ready for whatever was to come.


7. You discover the true meaning of bravery

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Bravery isn’t about moving across the country by yourself or telling someone how you really feel. It’s about trying despite how bad things get. It’s about looking death in the face, about choosing to love the people around you. It’s about acceptance. It’s so much more than what people think it is. People with chronic or terminal illnesses are extremely brave in the most important ways.


8. You really begin to understand chronic illness

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Meeting people with chronic illness (because what I had could barely be defined as anything else, not that it could be defined) changed my perspective on life so much. Talking to people who suffered from neurological diseases like multiple sclerosis, dysautonomia, epilepsy, and other chronic diseases like Hashimoto’s, cancer, and sickle cell anemia made me feel less alone. Learning about friends with diseases like these and how they cope and move on with their lives despite their illnesses placed me in an interesting position. You realize that you’re not alone and yeah, some people may have it “worse” than you, but really every disease impacts people in the same emotional way. They still need to get healthier and make lifestyle changes no matter what the disease. Some diseases have cures, some have “cures,” some have treatments, and others are straight up untreatable. It’s scary, but no matter what, life goes on.


9. Homeopathic medicine helps where Western Medicine cannot

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Sometimes, homeopathic medicine is better than Western/modern medicine. There are so many types of homeopathic cures. Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Aromatherapy, Functional Medicine, Saunas, Oil Pulling, and plenty of other therapies seek to treat the illness at its source whereas modern medicine can only treat the symptoms (when it comes to chronic illness). Western doctors can fix broken bones and stop infections, but their expertise stops there when it comes to treating long-term problems. With many problems people face on a regular basis, like depression, back pain, chronic fatigue, etc. western doctors have treatments that suppress the symptoms, but they cannot cure the illness. However, homeopathic medicine sometimes can.


10. Nutrition is the secret to health

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Yes, exercise is very important, but nutrition is #1 always. “You are what you eat.” That’s what everyone says. They’re right. If you eat junk food filled with chemicals, you are going to get sick. Whether that means immediately after you eat it or years later when you develop chronic illness is up to your body. If you eat whole, organic, fresh, local foods, you’re going to be much healthier and suffer from less chronic issues. I learned this early on in high school when I had extreme stomach issues due to preservatives and harmful chemicals in my food. Once my gastroenterologist and I isolated what was causing my gut upset, I cut all of those types of foods out of my diet and slowly (after about a month or two) regained my health, stopped having stabbing gut pains. If you’re cutting out literally anything processed: sugar, gluten, and dairy, you’re going to start to feel better. A diet like this will prevent chronic illness. Of course, the insane amounts of toxins in our world (plastics, soaps, clothing, makeup, lotions, etc) will still eventually kill you. Age will kill you. You’re going to die, no matter what. You body breaks down and doesn’t work as well as you get older. You have to accept this, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t avoid living a healthy lifestyle. Who doesn’t want their life to be as disease-free as possible?


I admit – this week was hard. I wrote three posts and this was the one I thought was best? I made a pact with myself to put up something, anything, at least once a week. I was going to put a different post up at the beginning of the week, but I changed my mind. I don’t know what day I’m going to post yet, so I guess we’re trying Friday this week. Oh my gosh this is so uncurated and I have to adjust to this new quantity over quality thing. It will be better than my usual once-a-month posts, eventually. I’m certain I’ll become a better writer for it too. Can you tell how much my anxiety has jumped over the past few months just through my writing? Hmm?

Photo Credit: The Odyssey, Tumblr, Christian Family Nashville, Smarty Pants Vitamins, Hult

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