I have a confession: I attended my high school reunion and I didn’t tell a single person about Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO).
I know, I know – awareness is power. I understand that what will help the NMO community and ultimately myself is creating awareness and educating others. Yet somehow, I just didn’t feel like sharing such personal information about myself. Let me take a step back…
My Dad worked extra shifts so I could take dance classes from the age of 6. Later, I was fortunate to attend a local high school that focused on the performing arts. Even though it had a diverse offering it was free to attend although one had to audition to get in as they had limited spots available. Many of the other kids came from comfortable households and had talent agents, commercial deals and private art lessons. My parents worked really hard, but I still grew up with modest means. Overall I had a great experience in high school but I was bullied for being poor, was smaller than the over developed (and very sexual) girls in my grade and lacked confidence.
I think there are a lot of things about me that are the same since high school but over the last 13 years I’ve made calculated steps to become who I’ve always wanted to be. When I walked into that room I don’t know why I was surprised that some people didn’t recognize me or with what I’ve done with my life, but I was. And ya, that brought a lot of insecurities up again.
If someone had asked about my health I might have told them about NMO but my disease is invisible from the outside so no one really knows the daily and constant pain I’m in. NMO has made me a stronger person because of what I’ve had to life through, what I face everyday and knowing what could happen at any moment. So I used that strength almost like my secret power against my insecurity. But to clear my conscious I need to apologize to all of you for not doing what all of you do so proudly.
For your endless effort and battle against NMO I am grateful.