I was diagnosed with a chronic pain disorder called Complex Regional Pain Syndrome at the end of my grade 10 year. At the time, I thought chronic pain was for old people and that it would go away. I was terribly wrong. Over the past year and a half, I’ve become a person that I am quite proud of. I’ve started advocating, speaking up, and demanding that disabled students in my city deserve the same rights and freedoms as able-bodied students. I am an ambulatory wheelchair user and that means I cannot make it to my classes because of my biggest enemy; stairs. I know that there are thousands of zebras like me who have been in the same boat. Whether you’re told your faking, don’t get the required services or even mundane things like waiting in line at the grocery store, you’re illnesses and feelings are extremely valid. If there is one thing I could say to the old Anikka it’s take nothing for granted and always grab the bull by the horns. My “desire” to be able to walk all of the time and not be sick is still there but I need to live in the now. I love to soak up moments with my friends, family, and boyfriend, even if it’s just watching crappy youtube videos in my bed to distract from my pain.
For other teens living with chronic pain and illness, always remember the three lessons that I wish I had known right after my diagnosis:
Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. It means you’re in a rough spot and the minute you can, you will do it independently. When your mom has to wash your hair, it can make you feel pathetic. I always try to remember that if someone was in my situation, I would help them and I deserve help too.
Speak up for yourself! I was able to get handicapped parking at every high school in my city because I spoke up and told them that it’s a necessity. If you really believe in something, use your voice.
YOU ARE WORTHY
Know that you’re worthy and not a burden. My mom always tells me “Stop saying sorry. If I didn’t want to help you, I wouldn’t. I know you will do it when you can but a little help never hurt anybody.” You are worthy of love, help, and respect.
“She believed she could so she did” and you can too.