“Leave space for a future version of you…one who is healthy and active”
By Rachel Leland
The top picture was taken in a parking lot, when my mom and I were traveling out of state for medical treatment in 2008.
There was a little bit of snow and I was so excited, because I had spent the last three years in my bedroom…far away from any sort of snow to play in.
I got out of my wheelchair and sat in the snow for a brief moment, but every second out of my chair added extra pain rippling down my spine, and it was hard to breathe when my back wasn’t reclined at just the right angle.
I specifically remember this day, and wanting it documented because I didn’t know if I’d ever get a chance to see the snow again.
Spoiler alert! I got the chance! (See lower picture.)
Nowadays, I have a skewed view of my teenage years: I often see the girl on top of this photo as someone separate from me now. I view her as the person who had to just keep going, keep enduring constant pain and deep depression, so that the current me now got to live a life.
But I didn’t view it that way at the time.
Back then I was fully convinced there was no future me. There was no other version of myself that I had to keep going for.
I was adamant that there was no timeline where I aged past high school. No future where I could be healthy and active and happy. If you’re in that place in your health journey, I feel you.
And I hope you’ll leave a little space for a future version of you that is so unbelievably grateful that you chose to keep going…because that person is looking back at you lovingly from on top of a beautiful, snowy mountain.
Learn more of Rachel’s story in Finding Resilience: A Teen’s Journey Through Lyme Disease. Based on the journal she kept during the hardest days of her illness, the book weaves together Rachel’s remembrances with insights from her mother, Dorothy. Together, they tell an unflinchingly honest and inspiring account of the struggles and triumphs they experienced together.