My story of battling illness and the experiences I took from loss.
Seeing The Light” Let light shine out of darkness.”
Hello beautiful darlings,
I struggled with deciding whether or not I wanted to publish this post and I really wanted to share real, raw and honest moments with you. I have sat down and tried to write and word this so many times. I knew by writing this it would trigger some emotions and feelings, but that is okay. I think it’s important to embrace the positives and the negatives in life. Most people assume that influencers live a perfect, worry-free life, but instagram is just a highlight reel of our life. I mainly share ootd’s, inspirational quotes, daily singing clips and my handbag collection. That is only a minuscule highlight of my life. When I asked y’all for feedback several weeks ago, you asked me to share my story and my experience with grief. Many of my friends have been struggling recently, and I thought this was the perfect time to write this post. Life teaches us many things, but it never teaches us how to handle grief/loss when we are faced with it.
Where do I even begin with this?
I first want to disclaim that I am in no way, shape or form a therapist or licensed medical professional. I am merely here to share my story and to hopefully be there for someone who is experiencing something similar. My job is not to be a therapist, but a light for my community. Right now, the world is all suffering from loss. Many of my friends have suffered from losing jobs, losing theatre contracts, homes, wedding cancellations, graduations, deaths of family members, births, and major life events/milestones. Seeing it first-hand is devastating, and leaves me feeling hopeless. But, we are alone- together. That is the most important thing. I have friends who have worked so hard for Broadway and lost their life dreams; because shows are closing permanently. If anyone can relate to what is currently going on it’s me. (But, we will get into that story later.)
GriefIf there is one thing I realized, it’s that every SINGLE HUMAN BEING handles grief differently. Everyone is handling the Corona outbreak differently, and that’s okay. Be yourself, be easy on yourself and do what you need to do for you. I will share why I am handling Corona in a PRAYER over PANIC way. My life has been forever changed.
We are all human, we all feel things differently and that’s okay. FEEL what you’re feeling. If anything, I learned how important it is to feel your current emotions. The more you push them aside, the more they will later on re-surface and worsen. I am personally a very sensitive and emotional person. I have always been that way, but realized not everyone is like that. Some people are sharing funny memes, some are sharing bible verses, some are making tik-toks (guilty ha ha), some are ranting, some are complaining about politics, some are not leaving their beds, some are working out all day, some are making music, and some are unsure of who they are right now. I just wanted to let you know – there is no right way to GRIEVE right now.
THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO GRIEVE.Keep repeating that darling.
Before I get into my story, please do not read, if you are triggered by anxiety or struggle with health anxiety. 🙂
In early 2018, I was auditioning and attending casting calls like a normal everyday life for Meghan Nicole. For those of you who are new here, I am a musical theatre actor. I am extremely passionate about the stage and it brings me ultimate happiness and joy to get on that stage and share what God has given me with the world. I auditioned for Beauty and The Beast (musical) at a local Equity Union theatre. This theatre in particular was one I really wanted to work at. I have been auditioning for it for years. I was determined to book this show and well, I did. It was a dream. I was understudying the role of Belle (a broadway performer who I looked up to tremendously.) It was a someone-pinch-me moment. Three weeks before I started the contract I got very ill with strep throat. After healing, I still felt so ill. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t sing like I did, and was extremely fatigued. After a few different medication treatments I was feeling more like myself and back on track. In the back of my mind, I just felt uncertain and scared that I might have to back out of my upcoming contract. With the support and love of my parents- I did it. I walked in on that first day feeling healthy and strong. I opened Beauty And The Beast at a dream theater; I worked my whole career to earn that Equity card. (But wait, the story isn’t over…buckle up.)
We finished rehearsal and opened the run of the show. I was having a blast; truly. Loved the cast and truly had a wonderful experience. Towards the last two weeks of shows, my body started to feel weak and I started to develop flu-like symptoms. In all 20 plus years of performing, I have NEVER called out of a show. EVER. I even performed with pneumonia in college lol. I had to call out of shows my entire closing week of Beauty and The Beast. The theatre and cast were so supportive and loving. In that moment, I knew wow- something definitely is going on with my body. That’s when my journey began. I was ultimately heartbroken to lose the job I had worked so hard for. One of the toughest weeks for sure. I was disappointed in myself and my body. The support from loved ones is what got me through.
Stand together. Be there for each other. Be kind to each other and to YOURSELF. It’s okay to not be okay. Those who truly love and care about you will not pressure you to feel strong or to feel sad. They will accept and love you for how you are feeling in that particular moment.I get the question often on how to be there for someone who is dealing with loss (in quarantine.) Be a shoulder to lean on (virtually.) FaceTime them, call them, play an online game with them and just be there to listen. The friends who stood by my side during my loss are my best friends. Those who didn’t are vaguely in my life now. It’s times like these that you realize who truly deserves to be in your life.
Okay, back to my story. I had huge auditions scheduled the upcoming weeks, through my agency. I was finally being considered for huge broadway tours and opportunities I dreamt of. Unfortunately, I had to take care of my health and put all of that on hold. Imagine getting an appointment for broadway and literally saying- SORRY have to put my career on hold. I started the journey of going to multiple doctors, I was getting 20 tubes of blood taken per visit. I was jumping from hospital to hospital; I was uncertain and scared. My anxiety was crippling and I honestly didn’t know what would happen to me. What was this? Why didn’t they know what was causing my symptoms? Why was my ANA tripled what the average person should be. Why was my body just not fighting this? My parents held my hand tightly through everything. They did not leave my side. It took months and months to get a diagnosis. After seeing my cardiologist as a last resort; he suggested submitting to Mayo Clinic. After getting denied, my parents flew me out to Cleveland Clinic Hospital, it was at that moment we almost gave up. With teary-filled eyes the three of us stood together and walked in the doors together. New York doctors would tell me it was anxiety, that I was fine, but I knew my body. I was this bright, bubbly singing girl. I couldn’t walk or talk without being out of breath. I couldn’t live my normal life anymore. We finally found a doctor who didn’t give up. A year ago today, I was diagnosed with a rare case of Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever (past case) and mycoplasma pneumonai. Only the Lyme was active at the time, but I must have suffered from those co-infections before Beauty. It’s crazy to think that I performed and really showed me the strength I have. Although, I am a strong woman the Lyme caused me a great deal of health anxiety. That is something I suffer with today. This relates to Corona where people feel a tiny cough and allergy symptoms and think they have Corona. I can relate and understand what you are going through. This is something I am still healing from and working on. Thank the LORD I did not give up. Through multiple treatments and medications we began treatments. The treatments were probably the worse part of my whole experience, but I am thankful for the doctors who did not give up.
It’s okay if your journey changes because of grief.It’s okay to allow yourself to change; whether that is for the good or not. Allow the change. Except it and move on from it. Although my loss may look differently from someone else’s- that’s okay. It’s still loss.
At this point, I had to explain to my agency that I needed to take the rest of the year off to get well. It was months of being “quarantined” as we are now with the Corona outbreak. Except, I couldn’t go outside, I couldn’t be in the sun or I would get a severe rash from my Lyme meds. I had to watch family events, family parties during the summer and moments from inside- through the kitchen window. I felt like the world was spinning and that my life was just passing me by. I had to turn down jobs, contracts, offers, collaborations, and major life events. I missed weddings, family birthday parties and more. I know that is how we all feel right now and I wish I could have taken my own advice now- back then. This is why I am sharing my story in hopes that it can be a testimony for someone who can’t find the light and is stuck in darkness. I watched my entire theatre career diminish, I lost relationships – family and romantically. I lost everything that was important to me because of my battle with Lyme. I was grieving losing everything I loved. I still do at times. It will just hit me sometimes. I know so many of my friends are grieving losing their jobs, friends and although it may be temporary it may not be. What we can do now- is find the positivity and light. I wished that I had saw that my blog was blossoming then and that something good was coming from my journey with Lyme. Although, I was losing- I was gaining something more beautiful.
We can go back to the basics and appreciate the little things. I feel that, this is why I have not complained or struggled with this current quarantine. I appreciate being able to breathe, to eat, to go outside, to be with my family. Some people are not as lucky. Count your blessings instead of your problems. You know? My worries are not being bored. I feel inspired, challenged, fearful, but also ready to see what God has in store. Everyone is different and that is also okay.
Turning darkness into light.Easier said than done. Believe me, I just felt this dark cloud over me all through out my journey with Lyme. I wasn’t myself. I lost who I was.
Losing something and someone is very different. I lost my grandmother when I was a junior in high school. Grieving over something and someone can also look the same. After losing my grandmother, I wrote my college essay about performing my dance piece about her. I used poetry and described dancing in her rocking chair. The piece meant a lot to me. I used her love and light in my life. I took her beautiful spirit and it was with me in everything I did. Every song I would sing, I would sing thinking of her laugh. Every breath I took, was for her because she couldn’t. Ultimately, we can definitely find the light through the stages of grieving. It may look different on everyone, but we can find it eventually. The people and things we love(d) can still be in our lives- it may just look differently.
After losing my career, jobs and everything I worked for. I turned to blogging. As I was enduring Lyme treatments, my mom and dad would quite literally encourage me in any way they could. I was very fortunate to have that support. I understand not most parents are as loving; counting my blessings. My mom would literally hold me up to get the instagram picture. I would lay in the back of my mom’s car between outfit changes because of how ill I felt. It was the most challenging thing I have ever endured in my life. Once I overcame and started to enter remission for Lyme, I was able to see and appreciate the small things. Such as, getting ready in the morning, eating, being able to take a picture of something outside, walk on the beach.
Grief changes us. It shapes and molds our hearts. We become more compassionate. We become stronger. We appreciate all that life has to offer. The truth is, loss has changed me. Sometimes, loss has a negative undertone and I don’t feel that I have changed in a negative way. In fact, I have become stronger and just know I am not the same as before. What I experienced will always be a part of me; and I like that. It adds an extra layer to who you are.
I pray for anyone who is suffering from loss. I know how scary the world is right now. The uncertainty is crippling, the news is heart-wrenching and leaving us fearful. To those who feel lost; you will be found. To those who are sick, I take my next breath for you. To those who cannot afford your next meal- please message me. Let’s come together. Let’s grieve together, but in our own unique way. Not only did I write this post for myself, but for you all as well. I decided to publish this today because maybe there is someone who really needs this right now, whether you are going over your own mountain or watching someone else; you are not alone. LIGHT OVERCOMES DARKNESS.
Testimony:After finishing Lyme treatments, I pursued my career in fashion blogging full time. I launched my very own boutique in the middle of my treatments and pursued what God was calling for me. Grief and loss changed my journey. I booked blog collaboration trips and modeling gigs I dreamt of. I signed with one of the top agencies this year for influencing and blogging. I booked a cruise with REVOLVE (one of the top brands in the world.) Dreams were happening; they are still happening. Sometimes we have to allow loss to happen, so God can make room for beautiful and better things.
Stay strong. Stay united and remember, it’s okay to not be okay. I hope my story brings light and reminds you that there is a light at the end of every tunnel. It may not be easy to get there, but we eventually do.
Thank you for listening to my story. I pray for you.
My love always,