My Story: Part III - Year 1

by Lavender Elizabeth, March 07, 2016

If you missed the first two chapters of my story, see them here: Part I & Part II.

Part III: University

My college experience was filled with friendship, sisterhood, and so many experiences and memories that tried me, surprised me, and made me stronger.

I was so excited to start university. I was such an independent person and enjoyed new experiences, so couldn’t wait to be placed in a situation that would utilize both. However, it didn’t play out so smoothly. I had a really hard adjustment into university. I cried so much and constantly called my mom. I started to slip back into my depression, even seeing a counselor on campus. That counselor suggested I take time off from school; something my mom wasn’t pleased with. I hadn’t even been at the school for a full two weeks and this counselor had me throwing in the towel. I didn’t listen to her, but it was something that I really thought about. I also thought about switching schools to be closer to home, but ultimately decided to stay at Davis. After that meeting, I made an appointment with my family doctor and explained my history in grade nine and how this felt really similar. Together we decided that I should try antidepressants - a decision that I am so glad we made.

During my orientation the previous summer, my mom had talked to the president of the IFC (Interfraternity Counsel) and he told her that I shouldn’t rush a sorority my first year. That was a huge mistake for my adjustment time, yet, I know was completely orchestrated by God. I had met a couple of girls through a girl I met at orientation, two of which were in the sorority Chi Omega. I started to talk to them about my regret with not rushing, and they told me that their sorority was hosting informal recruitment. I was really interested. I ended up meeting one of their sisters at our gym on campus and talked to her for more than an hour about her experience. Kaitlin was the reason I chose to go to that informal event. I thought if they were all this kind and outgoing, this group might be what I was looking for. I researched Chi Omega heavily before attending, trying to figure out if it was the right fit for me on paper; it was. That night I met some incredible women. They were truly interested in me and what I had to say. It was the first time I felt at home in Davis, and that night, I was overjoyed when I received my bid to join Chi Omega. That night, I also met a girl who would become my best friend. Marie and I both went to the informal recruitment event, as our mutual friend, Izzy, had invited us both. We talked briefly that night and when we both received our bids, started to hang out. It turned out Marie was going through the same thing I was. She wasn't adjusting to being in Davis and hadn't really found a group of girls that suited her. We discussed crying to our moms, missing our boyfriends, and feeling depressed - it was the first way we bonded. Marie was the first true friend I had. She was the first one who brought food to my room when I wasn’t feeling well and who made me feel more confident about staying at Davis.

At the beginning of November, I became really sick. Because I had dealt with my thyroid nausea for so long, I knew this was different. I felt like I had the stomach flu, minus the throwing up. It kept me in bed most of the day and I started to miss a lot of class. It got to the point in December that I was so sick, my dad decided to take me to the hospital. I missed my final exam for my calculus class and decided not to make it up as I was already failing the class. I had missed the last month of school and couldn’t teach myself the material like I could my other classes. It was the first class I'd ever failed, which was a really hard thing to grasp. Thankfully, despite that class, I managed to finish my first quarter with a solid GPA, so wasn’t placed on academic probation.

I had an appointment with my endocrinologist at the beginning of January. I had decided to base my decision on continuing my education on the outcome of that appointment. When Dr. B couldn’t figure out what was happening and referred me to a gastroenterologist, it was decided that I needed to take a quarter off of school. It was a decision I needed to do for my health, both because I knew I would be having tests done and seeing multiple doctors, as well as knew my body needed that time to rest. It was a really hard couple of months. All of my friends were still away at school, enjoying their time and having these wonderful experiences, while I was lying on the couch watching another episode of Friends. It was a really sad time in my life.

Then in February, Brian broke up with me. At this point, we had been together for more than a year, and he was everything to me. I know I was only 19, but I thought I was going to marry him. He had been acting distant for about a couple weeks, but I just thought he was going through something he didn't want to talk about. I had myself convinced that nothing was wrong with our relationship. When Brian came over that day, I really didn’t think we would be breaking up. Brian and I sat on the couch, and he explained that he needed to figure out who he was outside of a relationship, while I sat there silently crying. He made sure to tell me that he wasn’t breaking up with me because I was sick, but there’s still a part of me that doesn’t believe that. What 18-year-old boy wants to deal with someone who was sick more than they weren’t? Our relationship consisted of watching a lot of tv because I was too sick to do anything else. That’s boring and stressful for anyone. That night I drove up to Napa (where my dad’s work had relocated him), as I was signing a lease to my apartment that weekend. I have never been so grateful for my dad. As soon as I got out of the car, I started crying and said “Brian broke up with me.” My dad stayed with me that whole night. I was so sad I didn’t even want to go to dinner because I couldn’t stop crying for more than 5 minutes. My dad hugged me and talked me through it for hours that night. He was exactly what I needed. I told Brian that night that I understood that I was losing my boyfriend, but that I didn’t want to lose my best friend, too, so we decided that we would try to be friends once the dust settled. I saw him right before I left to head back to school. He told me about all of these things he had started doing with his school and church and I remember crying while he was talking. I tried so hard not to, but I couldn’t help it. His life got to move on, while I was stuck in this stagnant existence because I was sick. That was the hardest part of the break up for me.

I still don’t know how it happened, because we hadn’t hung out for too long before I got sick, but my college girlfriends were really there for me throughout that entire quarter. We decided to live together the next year and signed our lease in February. The following weekend, all five of them came to visit me at home to celebrate my birthday. We got dressed up and went out to dinner. It was the happiest I had been in a while and I love them so much for that. It was the beginning of the best of friendships. That was one of the first nights that we established ourselves as a group of six.

In March, my family doctor had an epiphany about my health. She suggested I be tested for gastroparesis, which literally means “paralysis of the stomach.” She sent me for a test to see if this was the case, and the week before I headed back to Davis, the results came back. I had gastroparesis. This meant that my stomach couldn’t contract on its own, making digestion incredibly slow. It was rare, particularly for someone my age and with my condition. People in their sixties who have diabetes are the most commonly diagnosed; I was 19 and had a thyroid disorder. 

I went back to school in April, ready to have a good quarter. I was taking classes I enjoyed, the weather was perfect, and I had friends to call my own. I completed my new member quarter with Chi Omega and started to build relationships with my sisters. I was initiated into the sorority right before my second year at UC Davis began, an experience that will forever be one of my favorite and most gratifying experiences in Chi Omega. My health continued to be an issue, as the doctors hadn’t figured out what kind of medication to put me on, so I was still consistently nauseous. I spent a lot of time with doctors having more testing done, just incase it was a false diagnosis, and learning about different options. By the end of that quarter, I knew that God had placed me exactly where I was meant to be, complete with friends who made me happy.

That summer, Brian and I actually became friends again. We started seeing each other every week and I finally felt like a friendship was possible. I, along with a lot of my friends, thought we were going to start dating again, but the Lord had other plans.

In July, Brian and some of his friends from church decided to start a Bible study and invited me to join. Each week, I would go to his house and worship and learn about God. One of the first times I truly experienced the Holy Spirit was at that Bible study. My friend Marcus was playing the guitar and we were singing, and I was overcome by Him. I remember sitting there feeling like I was unable to move because I was overwhelmed by the love that was being poured onto me. It was such a surreal experience and one I will never forget. 

That summer, all of my high school friends came home, so we spent a lot of time together. I was so thankful for the love and support they gave me. Despite being away from each other so much that year, we were still just as close and truly enjoyed each other’s company. They showed me different sides of God throughout that summer and I love them so much for that.

To continue reading my testimony and learn about my second year of university, click here: My Story: Part III continued.
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