For most of my late teens and early twenties, I didn't think I'd live to see my 25th birthday. It wasn't that I was suicidal; I just couldn't see how I could survive. The man I was involved with at the time was basically Christian Grey without the money or looks or charm, and I couldn't hold down a job because I was extremely sick and the doctors couldn't find anything wrong with me. My life felt like a dead end.
I eventually got out of that relationship. I started learning how to cope with the debilitating exhaustion and pain. I figured out that while I couldn't hold down a 9 to 5 job, I could run a web-based business. I got married. I moved to New York City. I broke off all contact with my family of origin.
And the day I turned 25, I finally started seeing a future where I survived.
I turned 38 today. I'm writing this on my phone, from bed, because a pain flare kept me awake until 4 am last night, none of my pain meds are helping, and I'm trying to somehow muster the energy to work for a few hours later today. I'm divorced, with sole custody of my five-year-old daughter, and I have a 5 inch scar hidden under my hair from where the brain surgeons went in after the tumor that wasn't discovered until it was the size of my fist.
I look at myself now, shouting distance from 40, and I look back at the girl who didn't think she'd live to see 25 and wish I could tell her that she made it out alive. That it was going to be a long hard fight, and some of it was going to suck a whole, but that she'd come out the other side confident of her ability to survive damn near anything if given enough caffeine and Vicodin.
Don't give up, I'd say. You're going to save yourself.
(There's a reason this shirt from Seanon McGuire is my favorite. This photo is from the day I got it, over a year ago - I'm still in my pajamas at the moment - but when I get out of bed and get dressed later, it's what I'll be wearing today.)