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Lost and Gained: Mirren

By Mizz Buchanan (she/her), 19

Mirren is sat on a hospital bed smiling. There is an orange border and the text "what I have lost and gained".

What I Have Lost: Independence. Happiness. Sleep (lots of it). Friends, old and new. Security. Innocence. A feeling of self-worth. Trust (in myself). Time. So much time spent worrying about what was wrong with me, or whether anything was at all. Time in hospital. Time alone. Time being happy. Time feeling alive.

Abilities. The ability to drink as much as I wanted. The ability to go places alone. The ability to not be constantly analysing every thought and feeling. The ability to take a bath unsupervised or go swimming. The ability to make it through one day without having a seizure.

But I have also lost my self-consciousness. It’s difficult to be self-conscious when I have to disclose my entire life story to countless health professionals, be watched by them, be poked and prodded by them. I’ve lost toxic friends, and toxic habits. I’ve lost my addiction to cigarettes. I’ve lost some good things too.

What I Have Gained:

First of all, an illness, and all the awful symptoms that come with it. A far greater knowledge of suffering than I would have liked. A lot of prescriptions, a lot of nights in hospital, a lot of weariness. A kind of fear that’s indescribable. A kind of loneliness that is indescribable too, though I’ve tried my best. What it feels like when you think you’re about to die. The relief when you realise, you’re still alive.

I have gained friends, really really good friends. I wish I could name them all, but I won’t. I’ve gained love, from and for other people. The people around me: the ones who’ve come into my life in the midst of all this, the ones who have been through it all with me, and the ones who I didn’t realise, but I could always rely on. Love for my family, my mum and dad (aka my heroes), my funny big brothers, and my even funnier little sister. I’ve gained a lot of love. Love for my boyfriend Andy, who sits with me through every seizure and migraine, and never lets go of my hand.

I’ve gained experience. Anxiety. Comfort in others, and in myself, finally. Gratitude. Above everything I have lost or gained, gratitude surpasses them all, and I’d say more on that but there are no more words.

(Originally published 29/03/21)

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