So we’re halfway through the month, which means I’m halfway through WEGO’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge of answering one question each day. And today’s question is:
Get Excited! What revs up your internal engine? When you see, hear, feel this it gets you excited and ready to face what comes next. Tell us what it is! #HAWMC
Short Answer: The Rocky theme songs, Gonna Fly Now and Eye of the Tiger, motivate me.
One Depressed Weekend
I was a junior in college. It was the second consecutive day that I spent in bed. I was on a steady diet of cereal and potato chips. A box of Kleenex and unopened textbooks were lying on my bed. This was yet another sporadic episode of depression. Bipolar disorder does not care about your deadlines. I had homework to finish, and I was competing with my Speech Team at Nationals in a few days. We would be traveling to Long Beach, California. Realizing I would not get any work done, I turned on the television. AMC was running a Rocky marathon. I stumbled upon Rocky III. Apollo was telling Rocky he needed to get the “eye of the tiger back.” Clubber Lang KO’d Rocky in their first fight. I always assumed Rocky was a “guys’ movie.” But, suddenly, it hit me like a bolt of lightning! I was Rocky and Rocky’s opponents were my depression. Even though I was down, I was not out. That week, I did not win anything at Nationals, but I competed. And I finished my homework.
When I would wake up depressed or get anxious before a test, I would watch Rocky’s fights. I graduated cum laude from Northwestern with two majors. At the end of my college career, I was a National Quarter-Finalist in Extemporaneous Speaking and a State Champion and National Semi-Finalist in Impromptu Speaking. Bipolar disorder is not my only opponent. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) at 19. When I was 24, Myasthenia Gravis, (MG) a neuromuscular autoimmune hurricane disease invaded my life. When I got MG, I went from doing yoga five days a week to not being able to feel my legs.
I Strap On My Gloves
For the past seven years, I have woken up tired and in pain every day. When I wake up, I play Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger, strap on my Rocky boxing gloves, and pray for strength. I tell myself, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” from Philippians 4:13. People often ask me what it is like to live with five illnesses. I see myself as Rocky and my five diseases as Rocky’s different opponents. Bipolar disorder is my Apollo Creed. PCOS is Ivan Drago. MG is Myasthenia Gravis. Asthma is Clubber Lang. And, finally, psoriasis is Tommy Gunn. Boxing is a metaphor for my struggles. Much like chronic illness, boxing is brutal and barbaric. Fighting an illness (or five) is not a team sport. I can have people in my corner, but my body is the only one that absorbs the pain.
My Favorite Real-Life Fighter
On May 2nd, The Fight of the Century happens when Mayweather and Pacquiao face off at the MGM Grand. Speaking of which, my favorite boxer, Congressman Manny Pacquiao also uses Eye of the Tiger as his fight song. He is the only fighter in history to win titles in eight different weight classes and he’s a Congressman in the Philippines:
–Your Stylist, Jessica Gimeno