My Support Network Keeps Me Sane
During college, I always joked with my friends that I would drop out of school to open a bar in Canada (I prefer their healthcare system). MIT was very stressful, and my reaction to unenjoyable situations is to want to escape. Based on some evolution, I’m sure that makes sense; people who run away from danger are more likely to survive. The problem is that escapism is how I deal with most things.
For instance, sophomore year of high school wasn’t the best, so I read a book a day to avoid dealing with people. As I’ve discussed in previous columns, when I feel overwhelmed by my feelings about Huntington’s, I distract myself by hanging out with friends or watching TV. I started writing this column in the hopes of pushing myself to address my feelings rather than escape. Which I have, but I still have plenty of fears and thoughts outside of when I write. My coping mechanism of escaping can only go so far.
I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but there’s not much to do outside the home. While I have video games (The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my jam) and TV, my mind isn’t busy enough with, say, laying out my weekend to keep out unwanted thoughts. Too often when I try and sleep, I imagine the time I have left with my mother as an hourglass that’s too close to running out. Before this, I would start planning, but I have nothing to prepare for now. While I should work on better coping skills that don’t require me to run myself ragged, I am lucky that I can curl into my boyfriend until those thoughts subside.
My support system means the world to me, especially right now. My boyfriend has been there for me through this crazy time; he knows that sometimes I don’t want to talk and would instead like a hug when I’m sad. My cat is a big supporter, considering how often I use her as a distraction, but she only cuddles when she wants attention. My parents are more virtual supporters; we text every day and call often. They read all of my columns and always make sure I know they are there. While my friends aren’t as physically close as they used to be, they are only a phone call away.
I am fortunate to have such a vast and incredible support network. While I really should find more ways to cope, I am glad I have them on my journey.
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