As my 24th birthday approaches, I've taken a lot of time to reflect. It's been a tough year, and I want to share some of what's been on my mind.
Externally, I look young and healthy and happy. Internally, my world is often spinning as a result of a pretty nasty combo of anxiety and chronic vestibular migraines that mess with my inner ear.
I put a great deal of effort into giving the impression that my life is great, and in many ways, it is. I live in a lovely apartment in my favorite part of New York, surrounded by amazing friends. I post on Instagram from cool lectures, art galleries, yoga classes, and trendy coffee shops. Unless things get really bad, I try not to give off that I'm dizzy or in pain when I'm in public. I just want to be normal. But sometimes my symptoms are too intense to hide.
Tonight was one of those nights.
I was at an event with my sister that I was super excited about. We went to see Elisabeth Moss and Alexis Bledel speak about the Handmaid's Tale (side note: Elisabeth Moss is extremely charming, and Alexis Bledel looks as gorgeous and uncomfortable in person as she usually does on TV). Alice and I have been watching each episode together, so we were both really looking forward to seeing the stars of our new favorite show.
My symptoms started to creep up halfway through a screening of the newest episode. I was super into the show (I won't spoil it, but episode 5 is HELLA juicy), but I couldn't keep my eyes open. I felt like I was gonna throw up, and I didn't know which way was up. The movement on the projection only made things worse, so I closed my eyes and leaned over.
This is my daily hell.
I did what I always do--I focused on my breathing, repeated in my head that I'm safe, and tried to internalize that what I'm experiencing is an illusion. Clicking into these strategies does not fix my symptoms, but it does get me through them. Alice scratching my back helped too.
After the talk, we got ice cream and walked to the Met. The dizziness improved a little over the course of the evening. It was such a pretty night, and my outfit was awesome, so I made Alice take these pictures of me. When she handed me back my phone, one photo stood out to me. The blurred one felt so real. This juxtaposition is the best visual representation I have to describe how it feels like to live with vertigo as a daily part of my reality. In a few different ways, I've come to see the world differently. Strong and unsteady, privileged and vulnerable, my life is full of contradictions. I'm still working through them."