Senior in highschool freaking out over college and illness, feeling like I want to die and can't see how to live as an adult. How do I cope?

I've yet to be diagnosed with Lupus, but my symptoms seem to fit the bill... I have a family history of autoimmune diseases and a second cousin (male) who got Lupus.

• Full bladder but don’t feel urge to pee (ultrasound confirmed)

o Then suddenly feel urge; must go right then

o Wound up peeing my pants as soon as I got into the house after; no control

• Feel like I’m falling/being pulled down when walking up stairs/ladder

o Legs swing back and forth when walking

o Knees buckle

o Tired

• Calves spasm (like waves) sometimes while lying down

o Body shivers/shakes up and down

• Joint pain

• Achy, pins/needles limbs, esp. arms

• Comes and goes Tremoring/shaking hands, mostly left hand

o I drop things/things slip from my hands

o Hands + fingers really shake when trying to do things like open bottle caps, cut food, pour light things of spice

 Wind up dropping things like bottle caps

• Can’t think of words

o Slow talking, sometimes lots of pauses, leaving out articles, linguistic things

o Saying “broaf” instead of “loaf” (context: loaf of bread)

• Fatigue, headaches, urge to scream and cry

o So tired; can’t do anything

o Have reduced my academic workload to almost nothing

o Comes and goes, progresses, or stays constant

o Sometimes dizzy

• Can’t remember earlier conservations, what courses I’m taking, what my symptoms are, concentrate, or listen well. I get something out of the fridge, immediately walk out, then go back and try to get the same thing out of the fridge again.

• Can’t process information well, esp. if oral concentration’s involved

• Head hurts studying schoolwork; can’t understand what I’m reading

• Mini-mood swings; breaking down crying while talking/laughing for no reason/anger

• Vocal dysfunction (can't sing anymore -- drastically decreased vocal range, muscles don't work)

• Post-nasal drip/sinus problems

• Nausea, esp. when waking up in middle of the night

• Insomnia, trouble staying asleep

• Hair loss/thinning hair

• Comes-and-goes trouble getting blood drawn because my blood kept clotting and I have extremely small, rolling veins.

• Comes-and-goes low-grade fevers and then feeling cold all the time with a temperature of 97.something

• Comes-and-goes Stabbing pain when taking a breath

• Hypothyroidism

• Gastritis, hiatal hernia, and G.E.R.D

• Blood pressure from 120/80 to ranges like 140/121 and 147/87 with an irregular pulse as high as as 120

• Mouth sore/ulcer/canker sore

• White fingers

• Had a sleep study, but the tech had to try a few times to get a finger that would give the oxygen-measuring finger thing a good reading since my nailbeds were all white. I often get cracks cuts across my thumb nails.

I'm going crazy. I'm a U.S. homeschooler and have been really stressed, trying to apply to 10 colleges/universities this winter. I planned on doing a very rigorous senior year with lots of college-level courses, but then towards the end of July... the fatigue came... then came the head aches, and each month there seems to be new symptoms coming while some disappear. I had to drop a lot of courses and struggle taking the SAT and SAT Subject tests.

My personality changes sometimes. For example, I was taking the SAT Literature subject test and just was going to give up and practically scream "Screw you!" at all the colleges I'm applying to who want to see subject tests. I stopped caring about what I was doing while I took the tests, so I probably have a low score... I feel like I just want to die sometimes to stop the pain. I want to give up, lie down, stop struggling, and just sink into oblivion.

I don't know whether I can continue studying physics because of my symptoms, and the colleges I'm applying to want to see 3-4 years of science! I only did earth science and chemistry so far... If I drop physics, I'm at a disadvantage because I only will have done 1/3 essential sciences: chemistry, biology, and physics. I'm terrible at biology, so I just didn't do it. I'm not going to major in sciences or study medicine, so why should I bother with biology? Harvard said they didn't care whether I did physics or biology, but I have to do one, don't I? I'm freaking out because a lady online, who said she has a son with lupus, said my course load wasn't rigorous enough to get into competitive schools, especially since I didn't do biology! For 9th and 10th grade, I struggled with badly-controlled mental illnesses (Bipolar/Schizoaffective disorder) and was struggling to overcome psychosexual abuse, so I didn't take AP courses. I did 4 college-level courses in 11th grade, and now, I. Just. Can't. Take. It. Anymore. If her son with lupus could do all these things, why can't I?

I had to drop my history/English lit courses because I couldn't tolerate reading and writing! I had to NOT take AP courses this year because I didn't trust that I'd be able to finish the courses before May because I'm so sick much of the time. How can I exist in a liberal arts college?!

I feel like I'm going to fail. I won't get into any schools if I tell them how sick I am and that I have to drop even more courses, and then they'll really think "Geez, why should we take a risk and admit this sick kid who probably can't handle a college-level workload, especially since we know she has a mental illness?"

Every option I see is either bad or less bad, but not good. How do you cope with trying to live a normal life and study when you're so sick? Do you succeed? How do you overcome the overwhelming desire to just give up and die?

I'm seeing a rheumatologist for the first time on February 2nd and seeing my neurologist again on February 1st. My ANA and Creatinine/kidney tests came back normal a few weeks ago, but I feel like grabbing the doc's coats and begging him to run every test known to man until I get dragged away by the men in white coats...

1 Reply

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  • Hi RobinsonF,

    I'm sorry to hear that you have been struggling with so many symptoms and you are currently experiencing a very stressful time. I'm glad to hear that you have an appointment with a rheumatologist next week and I hope that they are able to help you towards a diagnosis and some treatment to help alleviate your symptoms.

    With regards to your current stress levels, have you spoken with your doctor about this and your resulting low mood/depression? Have they offered any form of treatment such as medication or therapy? Stress is an important trigger for flares in autoimmune diseases, so good stress management is a key part of any treatment plan. For more advice about stress and lupus, please have a look at our article here - lupusuk.org.uk/stress-manag...

    I'm sure that the rest of the community here will be able to chip in with loads of support and advice for you.

    If you need more information and advice about what you can do to self-manage various aspects of lupus, please have a look at our various blog articles at - lupusuk.org.uk/category/blog/. If you need more information about lupus, our full range of publications can be read and downloaded on our website at lupusuk.org.uk/publications/

    There is often a lot of support available for students who have disabilities or chronic health problems. It may be worth enquiring about what support is available in some of your chosen institutions. (I'm afraid as a UK charity we have very little information about this).

    If you have any thoughts of suicide or self-harm, please ensure that you speak to your doctor. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in the USA on 1-800-273-8255.

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