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I learned the importance of self-care the hard way - Julia Metraux

For as long as I could remember, I have been an anxious person. In addition, I would

describe myself as being fairly ambitious. In the fall of my freshman year at McGill University, I felt my stress levels rising faster than normal. On top of academics, I found myself being torn in every direction by clubs, familial problems, and political instability in the United States, where I spent most of my life.

On a Monday morning in mid-October, I woke up covered in hives and swelling on my

face and rest of my body. I never had symptoms as aforementioned, so I was very confused and concerned. Two days later, I was admitted to the ER just in time, as moments later I was given oxygen and adrenaline to keep me breathing due to angioedema in my throat. Afterwards, I found myself continuing to break out in hives and develop angioedema for no reason that a doctor could explain to me. Later in May, doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital had found that I have an autoimmune mediated condition which caused angioedema and hives.

So what to do? I needed to address my severe anxiety, as it was playing a role in

triggering severe reactions in my body. The most important coping strategy, besides medication to treat the hives and angioedema, that I have found helps me is taking up coping strategies to distract myself from the stress. However, there are downsides to address self-care to coping strategies as well.

On more than one occasion, I have had to stop studying or another important activity due

to symptoms arising, such as my hands swelling to the point where I could barely write. Yes, it is crucial that I stop to take medications and distract myself to feel less stressed. After thirty minutes of an non-academic activity, like watching puppy videos, I might feel better, but I lost time to get work done.

I do not have my mental health or physical health under control. What I do have is the

motivation to conquer both obstacles. I want my autoimmune and mental health issues to be something I have, not something that defines me.



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