Faces. Everyone has one. But at one point in my life, I felt like I didn’t. It was during my freshman year. I went to a school that made me never want to wake up. Never have to leave my room. This school made me want to give up everything I had because it was so advanced, and I wasn’t. I was failing all of my classes even when I put in everything I had. I was suffering and I wanted to leave. Then one day, because of the stress continuing to accumulate, my face became paralyzed.
I went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy. This facial paralysis was the most difficult thing I had ever gone through. Even with my family trying to be there for me I still felt alone. No one knew what I was going through and how it felt not being able to use half of my face. After the first day of diagnosis, I refused to go to school, but I had to go back eventually. My first step on campus was agony. I felt like a freak. It felt as if everyone was staring at me. All day I sat in the back of the class. When I was called on by the teacher I sat in silence and didn’t look up. I just sat there waiting to be dismissed so that I could run away from everybody and the pain of knowing that I couldn’t smile or talk anymore. I ran across campus to where nobody could see me cry and sat behind a school building throughout lunch, with my face covered while I cried silently to myself. I hated my face. I hated not knowing whether the symptoms would ever go away. I was a broken girl who didn’t have anyone to talk to. My face wasn’t mine anymore.
Needless to say, I went home early and I never wanted to go back. Every day, I was forced to sit in front of a mirror and do facial exercises to try and regain any strength I could. But with every attempt, I lost hope. Nobody knew what it was like to look at myself in that mirror and feel absolutely helpless. There was nothing I could do but wait. Wait for a miracle. I prayed to God every night asking for his help in overcoming the paralysis. I would sit in front of that mirror till I couldn’t take anymore of the useless exercises. I was depressed despite all of the appointments and prayers. I lost all hope of recovery. The paralysis had progressed to the point where I couldn’t close my left eye. I had to tape it shut out of fear that it would become infected. I couldn’t close my mouth, talk, eat, drink, or look myself in the eye anymore. I cried every day. I wanted to just hide. Hide from all the faces that worked and made me feel worthless.
After a week of feeling like I would never have a face again, I finally got a sign that everything might be okay. I could move my mouth. It wasn't much, maybe less than a millimeter. But it was hope that I needed. Gradually I earned part of my smile back, it was incredible. This was the happiest I have ever been. God had answered my prayers. After the discovery, I ran to my parents crying out of my one eye and showed them the progress. But this time the tears weren't out of sadness, they were tears of joy and hope. Eventually, I regained the ability to talk. Something I never thought I would be able to do again. The first words that fell out of my mouth were almost impossible to understand, but I could talk.
Then the after the next few days I was able to partially blink. Now I had to face my fears and go back to school. I had developed enough strength to face the world again even though I was utterly terrified. This day was life changing terrifying or not. I realized that I took so many things for granted. I never thought about the ability to blink or smile as a blessing. Now that I look back and think about my experience, I’m glad that it happened. It truly made me appreciate what I have. It may have only taken two months to heal but, to me, it felt like a lifetime.
Bell’s Palsy left me with some permanent paralysis on the left side of my face. Sometimes I can’t smile correctly or close my eyes at the same time but I am glad that I had this experience because whenever I look myself in the mirror I see a battle that I won. I don’t see the depressed fourteen-year-old girl with no hope. All I see is my face.