Saturday, March 12, 2016

My Story: Part III - Year 3

If you missed the beginning of Part III, you can find it here:


Part III: Year 3

My junior year of university was hard. Really hard.


I went into my fall quarter with such high hopes of enjoying college and succeeding in my new major. For the first time since being diagnosed, my thyroid levels were stable – and had been for eight months – and I had started a new medication for my gastroparesis that was really helping to curb my nausea. I was feeling well, something I hadn’t been able to say in seven years. Unfortunately, this streak wasn’t able to last. In the middle of October, my thyroid levels changed drastically. I became more under-active than I had been in three years, making me extremely lethargic and nauseous. Around the same time, my doctor and I decided to up my gastroparesis medication in the hopes that a higher dosage would improve my circumstances; however, this was not the case. After being on the increased dose for a week, I began having heart-attack-like symptoms, which ended up sending me to the hospital. I was immediately switched back to my lower does, so for the time being, only had to worry about my thyroid symptoms. My body has always had a difficult time readjusting its thyroid levels, usually take 8-9 weeks instead of the usual 4. Over the next few months, my levels would continually fluctuate between over- and under-active.


With the best interest of my body in mind, I made the decision to take time away from school. Rather than take an entire quarter off, I chose to go part-time, taking only two classes instead of the normal four. That was the best decision I could have made. I was still able to continue my education, while also giving my body the time it needed to rest. When I met with my advisor, she said, “you need to stop pretending that you aren’t sick.” For some reason, that simple sentence really put things into perspective for me and I knew part-time was the right decision.

For two quarters, my grades really took a hit, with GPAs less than 2.0. Part of maintaining membership within my sorority is keeping a certain GPA, one that I wasn’t meeting. Because of this, I had to meet with my sorority’s personnel board. Their decision, despite my circumstances, was to revoke my membership from Chi Omega. The previous times I had met with the personnel board, they were helpful and explained my options; this time they did not. I truly felt that I was going to be able to keep my membership due to my extenuating circumstances, and when that wasn’t the case, I was devastated. When I asked if I could appeal this decision, my advisor’s response was: “I mean if you want to you can, I guess.” The next day I looked into my sorority’s Book of Rules, and found a form that was meant for members with extenuating circumstances to receive another quarter to prove they could raise their grades. I immediately emailed the personnel board along with my advisors asking if this could be an option for me as it completely coincided with my situation. After five days, I finally received an email back with the reply: “Your chance to ask questions was in your personnel meeting.” In response, I then asked if I could have another meeting to discuss my options, but never received a reply. After a week of waiting, I emailed again asking how the appeal process worked, as I wasn’t given any instructions during my meeting. It took a week for someone to answer me, and they weren’t very helpful. I lived with two members on the executive board and they were receiving emails from all five of the women I emailed almost every day, and it took them a week each time to answer my emails. As my sisters, I would have thought that the board would have looked into every option to help keep me in the chapter, and that if nothing was found, they would have worked with me to help appeal in the most effective way.

Before this experience, whenever people would ask me what Chi Omega had done for me, I always told them that it saved my college experience. If it weren’t for the sisters of Omicron Kappa, my first year would have continued to be utterly depressing. Despite my two chronic illnesses making my time at UC Davis very difficult, no one had supported me more than my Chi Omega sisters. These women inspired me to keep pushing throughout the struggles of my illnesses, so when this happened, I was very confused.

I decided to move forward in the appeal process, without the help of my personnel team. I submitted my appeal in the beginning of February; the deciding committee meets in June.
My depression flared those two quarters. It really hit me that this was going to be my life, constantly changing medications, feeling healthy, and then everything changing in the blink of an eye. I wasn’t able to participate in my sorority, I couldn’t attend all of my lectures, and spending time with my friends was difficult. My life basically consisted of sitting on the couch, watching TV or doing homework. It was really no way to live and I was incredibly unhappy. I decided to start seeing a therapist, which was a strange experience for me. I really loved my therapist; she specialized in chronic illnesses, so understood a lot of what I was saying. That being said, I had a hard time opening up. I felt like I had to constantly explain myself, rather than just talk and let her help me. I continued to go for a couple of months, and then decided to stop.


The time away from my sorority did, however, have a wonderful outcome. I had wanted to get connected with a Christian group on campus, but my health had been holding me back. Finally, near the middle of spring quarter, I began to feel healthier, so no longer had an excuse. I emailed a girl asking if I could join her College Life Growth Group (like a Bible Study), and it went from there! I emailed Evelyn on Monday and the next day met someone else from the group. Clara and I decided to study at Starbucks (which we never do) and had to sit outside (there were no tables inside), and there we overheard a conversation. After eavesdropping for a few minutes, I turned around and asked if they were apart of College Life - they were! We talked for a little bit and he mentioned Spring Retreat which was the following weekend. That night, I received an email from the coordinator and then paid at my first growth group meeting (that Wednesday). Within a week, I had joined a growth group and went on a weekend retreat with complete strangers.

Going on Spring Retreat, despite it being so far outside my comfort zone, was the best decision! My faith was encouraged, the speaker was incredible, and that weekend solidified my feeling that College Life was where God wanted me.

Growth Group became the highlight of my quarter. The women were great! My friends from high school are some of the most wonderful, Godly women that I have ever met, and this group reminded me so much of them! They made me feel so welcomed and loved, and taught me so much and brought me closer to the Lord in such a small amount of time! I am so unbelievably grateful to have spent the second half of spring quarter with them.


Also around this time, at the end of April, I received an email from the personnel advisor. I read her email while in class, and almost started crying right there. She informed me that she was going to send the form I’d requested in February to headquarters and needed my signature that night. Within two weeks, I was 100% reinstated into my chapter and my appeal was thrown out.

God worked in interesting ways that year. Being asked to leave my sorority was devastating, but had that not happened, or had they given me the form when I requested it, I never would have found College Life. My faith increased drastically throughout those couple of months with my Growth Group, and was so encouraged during Spring Retreat. Had I remained in Chi Omega or they gave me the form any earlier, I wouldn’t have been able to go on Spring Retreat due to a mandatory philanthropy event happening the same weekend.

God truly orchestrates heartbreak into encouragement; frustration into gratitude.


My summer before starting my fourth year at UC Davis was wonderful. I spent the majority of my summer with two of my best friends, Daphne and Kristina. Through my relationship with Brian, I was able to form a closer relationship to Daphne. She is by far the best thing that came from that relationship. Kristina, Daphne, and I became our own little trio of best friends. They pull out my goofy side, support me, and show me God through their character every day. There was so much happiness spent that summer because of these two, and I’m forever grateful.


In July, my sister and I went to Argentina with Habitat for Humanity. I really wanted to experience a missions trip, and thought that Habitat would be a great fit, as it's a Christian organization. I had really high expectations for the trip, and sadly, they weren't met. I really felt like it was going to be a time spent helping others through growing closer to God, but only one other person on the trip was Christian besides Bethany and myself. Bethany and I were also the only people under 30 - we were at different life stages, so bonding was harder than we expected. The work we did there was amazing, though. We helped build houses for two different families, something I never thought I would be able to do. I definitely struggled with my health throughout the trip, having to miss two days of the build, but overall, God came through and allowed me to participate. It was a trip that showed me another culture and a different way of life, which is something I'll forever be grateful for.


In August, I made the decision to wear a purity ring. I had been praying about it a lot, and one night when I was at a friend's house, his girlfriend and I were discussing our rings. As soon as she said one was her purity ring, I had the overwhelming feeling that I wanted to wear one. That night I made the decision to outwardly show my commitment to God. This was a decision I never thought I'd make - it was fully God's work in me. In my past relationship, I had gone farther than planned, and I knew through my deeper relationship with God in the years since that I didn't want that for my next relationship. When I bought my ring, I prayed over it, making my promise to God to honor Him by waiting. It's a decision that is hard in today's world, but one that I'm so proud of. It was a big step in my relationship with Christ and one of the most defining. I love having the reminder of the life I've given to Jesus on my left hand that I can see and remember each day.

To read about my fourth year, the year my family moved away, click here: My Story: Part III continued.

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