How Being Diagnosed With Dermatomyositis Changed My Shallow Thoughts


High school is a pivotal point in every teenage girl's life.

This is the time in your life when things are happening for the "first time," be it having your first boyfriend, getting your driver's license or taking the next steps to attend university.

High school might’ve even been the time in your life when you had the opportunity to be the HBIC (Hot Bitch In Charge) of your clique, which was exactly where I was heading with my group of girlfriends until I was diagnosed with dermatomyositis.

I know you're thinking, "WTF is that?"

Dermatomyositis is a muscle disease. It is characterized by chronic muscle inflammation, and accompanied by high muscle weakness and chronic pain throughout your entire body. You also get a skin rash.

With a diagnosis like this, I was knocked off the track of being the ultimate mean girl. My Regina George ambitions were squashed within the first month of treatment. The medication I was on to treat my sickness caused me to gain 50 pounds over the course of two months. It thinned out the hair on my head and caused me to get facial hair.

With such quick weight gain, I got stretch marks all over my body. These insecurities inevitably changed my life and perspective forever.

Needless to say, I was no longer Regina George.

Many people were freaked out by my physical appearance and rapid change. I was ignored.

Throughout high school, I learned my peers would never be able to relate to this experience. I needed to get thick skin. Physical beauty in many cases is temporary, and it is truly in the eye of the beholder.

The experience forced me to adjust my shallow priorities and allowed me to focus on my academics. With the amount of sick days I needed in the hospital, I had no other choice but to be completely focused on my academics.

It also made me realize how important health insurance is. I appreciated my mom more for going to so many appointments with me, and also dealing with my raging hormones and high school problems.

All of these realizations were imperative. But the biggest wake-up call was I was responsible for my own happiness. Regardless of being sick and dealing with this terminal illness, I needed to stop blaming other people for any misfortunes in my life.

I had to use this hurdle as fire, to drive me to be the best student, work hard and always treat others nicely.

I was diagnosed at 13 years old. It's been 10 years.

It used to be something I tried to hide from people because of my bad memories. But, in all reality, it was the best thing that could've happened to me.

My sickness saved my life in so many ways.

It forced me to realize being a Regina George in high school would only lead to people really hating me. It changed my perspective on life, and granted me the opportunity and vision to be a strong individual. I no longer needed to surround myself with a clique of girls who served as a security blanket and reassured me how beautiful and popular I was.

Dermatomyositis gave me stretch marks, yes. But it also gave me the mentality of a fighter.