Dear mom,

Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension: My mom was diagnosed with a condition called idiopathic intracranial hypertension, which is a condition where there is an irregular amount of pressure on her brain. It affects the part of her brain that controls her vision, meaning she is slowly losing some of her vision right now, and if this gets worse, she could lose her vision permanently. If the pressure maximizes, she could lose her life. My mom did not inherit this, in fact the cause of this condition is very unknown for her. It's symptoms were very similar to those of a brain tumor, but thankfully that wasn't the case. We found out about this two years ago after one of her check ups, and it hasn't been easy for me since.

My mom risks her wellbeing everyday by going to work when she isn't supposed to. Her doctor recommends that she takes a lot of rest but ironically she's the most restless of the family. She works for almost 7 hours a day and only takes Friday off. She also cooks every day and helps clean around the house, moving from one task to another. No matter how much my dad and I tell her to rest, she proceeds to work harder and harder. With every exhausting sigh that escapes her lips, my heart shatters. I don't know when she's in pain or not, and I don't know how to take her pain away. I always offer to help her out but she shuts that down and tells me to focus on myself and on my academics.

Since it's the least I can do for her, I do in fact work harder now. For every action I take, I always have her in the back of mind, telling me whether I'm making a wise decision or not. I am always afraid of disappointing her when it comes to my actions or my lack of effort. I try my best to come back home from school with positive news for her so I can put a genuine smile on her face. When I do something that disappoints her, I tear myself over it. I shed tears uncontrollably the night I get a bad grade or something terrible happens at school. Seeing the look of disappointment on her face make the tears in my eyes swell up, but I never talked to her about it.

In the process of make my mom content, I also shut her out. I bottled up many of my emotions just so I wouldn't bother her with them. I never talk to her about what made me anxious or the things that weighed me down. I always silenced my sobs every time they got louder at night so she never has to walk into my room and handle my mess. Even if she was the reason I was upset, I still stayed quiet instead of talking it out with her. As I was working hard on my academics, I realized that I completely neglected my emotional wellbeing, and that started to be visible.

Everything got overwhelming and eventually I started unleashing my emotions in the forms of breakdowns and lots of rage. I would snap at some of my friends sometimes, which left them in confusion as to why I acted so out of character. I'd sometimes take that anger out on my mom, then beat myself up later for doing so. I started losing control of my emotions and it was very obvious. I lost the sense time and I felt like every day was dull and just consisted of me shutting everyone out. One day, during a conversation with my mom, I had the worst breakdown. I started crying uncontrollably, losing my breath and barely getting the words out of my mouth. I managed to put together a few sentences to tell her why I was feeling that way.

I told her about the nights where I'd cry myself to sleep, and I told her about the fear I had of not being good enough for her. I told her how I was so afraid of losing her and having to hit major milestones without her. She had tears in her eyes during that conversation, and I saw a different type of emotion emerge from her. I felt bad about talking to her and making her cry, but I felt so vulnerable and I felt like that was my last resort. Even though I made her cry, I am glad I had that conversation with her.

She reassured me that I am good enough. She told me how proud she is of who I have become and what I have achieved. She told me that she didn't care about my grades or about maintaining the perfect reputation, but she cared more about our relationship. She explained to me that she wanted me to distract myself by focusing on my academics, and she didn't do that for her benefit. She asked me to talk to her more and told me that nothing would make her happier than me telling her about everything I go through, whether it'll disappoint her or not. I realized that I misinterpreted my mom's needs, and that she just wanted the best for me all along when she told me to focus on myself instead of on her condition.

My mom and I have grown closer now. Though thinking about how far apart we became doesn't make me proud, it certainly makes me glad that I realized I was ruining our bond by pushing my mom away. That realization made us have an emotional yet crucial conversation that changed how things are. My mom's condition isn't going away and I've learned to understand that now, so I just try to cherish every moment I have with her as if it were my last. I work on building our relationship rather than the numbers on my report card that affected her in no way. I learned that you should always appreciate the relationships you have with the people in your life, because you don't know when or how you are gonna lose them.

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