Today we are throwing it back with a segment from the past . This segment ” Spotlight Thursdays” began on my tumblr profile when I first started blogging . Within these posts I would choose an individual at random who peaked my interest or those who sought out to motivate others and place the spotlight on them.
Seeing that I’ve always had the belief ,that we are all here to love each other, serve each other, and uplift each other. For to succeed, you need to find something to hold on to, something to motivate you, something to inspire you.
Jasmine a 22 year old senior from Wayne State University does this very diligently within her life and decided to share her story with us today with the aim of inspiring someone.
So if you have a moment, please stay awhile as she shows us how she turns her negatives into a positive.
By Jasmine Espy
My name is Jasmine Espy, my performance name is IVANNA. I am a 22 year old college senior attending Wayne State University majoring in broadcast journalism. When I am not studying, I am writing for BLAC Detroit Magazine, sound editing/ engineering, performing rap, poetry and singing. My aim in this letter is to tell you about some of the hardships that I’ve gone through and overcome through the years. I believe that my story will inspire someone out there.
How it all Began:
It all started when I was in middle school, one day I woke up with a pain under my right arm. Concerned, I went to my mother and asked her if I should go to the doctor and get checked out. My mother made an appointment with my PCP. The physician examined me and determined it was simply a boil growing under my arm. All I could think is how could this possibly happen? My mother tried comforting me with the fact that everyone gets a boil or two in their lifetime. Just like everyone else, I thought this would come and go. As the days progressed, the boil grew in size and pain. By the end of the week, the boil under my arm was the size of two golf balls. I was in so much pain that I couldn’t sleep, showering was a task and on top of already having a negative self image from being bullied all of my life, my confidence dwindled even more.
Once the boil finally popped I was relieved and thought it was over. No more pain or discomfort. Boy was I wrong. The day I got my first boil is a day that I will never forget, because it changed the course of my life as I knew it. I can’t mark for you the time frame in which my condition grew but all I know is that one day I looked up and I had boils covering my whole right arm pit. I had tracts and lesions that were too painful to even describe. Each year it spread from my right arm to my left arm, from my left arm to the creases of breasts, from my breasts to my vagina, from my vagina to my buttocks and from my buttocks to my stomach. Keep in mind that during all of this I was 350+ pounds with terrible eating habits and pre diabetic. This is important for later in the story. Recapping all of what I’ve gone through I sometime wonder why I didn’t just end it all. Looking back I know that God had a bigger plan for my life and even though I was in indescribable pain. I knew that it wouldn’t last forever. Nothing in this world lasts forever, nothing is constant, everything changes.
Now through all of this time of my condition progressing for the worse. No doctor could properly diagnose my condition. One doctor thought it was a staph infection another thought I had a life threatening blood disorder. It was hell. Until one day my mother, by the grace of God, found a clinic that described a condition that was similar to mine at Henry Ford. My mother thought it wouldn’t hurt to see if they could help. From the first day entering the clinic my life changed. My symptoms matched exactly with a condition called Hidradenitis Suppurativa. “The skin lesions develop as a result of inflammation and infection of sweat glands.This condition features pea- to marble-sized lumps under the skin that can be painful and tend to enlarge and drain pus. They usually occur where skin rubs together, such as in the armpits, groin, and buttocks.” (Mayo Clinic) I was relieved to finally have a name for the very thing that changed my life for the worse.
By this time my condition was in Stage 3 and my confidence, self love and heart were all shot to hell. To shorten the story a bit, I went through treatments of antibiotics and laser to keep my condition at bay. Although theses treatments alleviated the symptoms it did not cure my condition. It wasn’t until I went to college and started living on my own did I make semi obvious connections with my health and condition. By the time I got to college I was pushing a little over 350 pounds. After watching a few documentaries and doing some research on my condition, reading clinical trials, patient stories and more I came to a conclusion. What I was eating was causing my HS. HS is like severe acne, my logic was, if your skin can break out from eating too much chocolate or (insert another acne causing food) maybe what I am eating is causing my condition to get worse instead of better. Thus I conducted my own experiment on myself.
The Journey :
After extensive research, I began to gradually eliminate all meats, sugars, processed foods and sugary drinks out of my diet. I started off by teaching myself how much to eat. I used an app called Lose It. I changed nothing about my diet at this time. I kept eating everything that I loved besides pork. I set my caloric intake at 1500 per day. AFter a year of teaching myself how much to eat, I paid more attention to what was in the food that I was consuming. I began to exit out processed foods, then meat, then sugar and then I incorporated exercise into my routine. The combination of all of theses elements, made an improvement on my overall health and my skin condition. Although it wasn’t cured I noticed I did not get any new boils as I once did before. My condition was finally at bay. I lost a total of 175 pounds and am still maintaining my weight loss. I became vegan and although I still struggle with my sugar intake which is a huge part of my HS flair ups, for the most part my condition is no more. I have gone through a series of surgeries to remove the diseased skin and my life has gotten better. I remember times where I would wake up with my underwear, bra and t-shirt drenched in puss. Writing this is making my cry right now. I never took the time to process all of what had happened to me. I am one of those people who gets through things first and processes them later.
So all of the pain, hurt and anger that I have had regarding this condition is being dealt with now. As I am loving myself again I realize that I hold the key to my success, health, wealth and well being. I want to encourage any women struggling with weight loss or a condition similar to mine, to keep fighting the fight. It’s not over because of one bad day or even a series of bad days. You can overcome any and every obstacle set in your path. Your value is not attached to your outside appearance. I attest to this sentiment because I have scars and leftover HS nodules all over my body. But, my value, beauty and worth has not decreased, but only increased. These are my battle scars and I am learning to wear them with pride. Life is hard, but God gives us the tools to make any bad situation and good situation. I am learning to love my body and this is an everyday process. I don’t have a boyfriend, I haven’t even lost my virginity yet, because of this condition and personal choice. But these aren’t things that define my livelihood. Ladies, men, children, anyone who might be battling with debilitating conditions, poor self image, weight loss, etc. know that you are more than a conqueror and that our state of mind plays a huge part in our wellness. Begin to do things that make you happy, that make you feel worthy and your mind, body and soul will align. Most importantly suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. As cliche as it is to say, it’s true. As our planet goes through seasons and changes, as do we.
None of this was easy and it is still an everyday battle, but I am here to tell you out of all the times that I’ve attempted suicide or had suicidal thoughts I am still here and I will be here until it is my time to go. I want to eventually write a book on my experience and tour the world touching other men, women and children alike that battle with Hidradenitis Suppurativa.
You’re valuable, you’re necessary and you’re perfect!
Thank you so much for taking the time out to read my story. I hope this will be an inspiration to you and your readers.
Much love and peace,
Jasmine Espy aka IVANNA (if you would like to view some of my work you can visit jasmineespy.weebly.com or soundcloud.com/xxivannaxx)