My best friend Jen was only 20 years old when she married her high school sweetheart, Joseph. Their families accepted their decisions wholeheartedly, even if they were only juniors in college, because they saw how in love those two were. They were also very open to their loved ones regarding their relationship, so they did not need to do much to convince their parents to let them get married early.
Despite the acceptance that Jen and Joseph received from their immediate families, the young couple experiences some backlash from the more traditional community members. I personally heard some people say that my friends were setting an awful example to the kids in town, considering they were indirectly saying that it was okay to get married early.
In reality, though, Jen and Joseph were not saying anything at all. I firmly believed that they just happened to be soulmates who found each other immediately, so they were wasting time to do what they were meant to do: become one in the eyes of the law and the eyes of God.
I was one of the happiest people in the world when I found out that Jen was pregnant with her first child. The news came only a year after the wedding. I knew that they had been planning to expand their family soon, but I didn’t realize that it would be THAT soon. I was so excited since it also meant that I would have a baby to dote on in the coming years.
I was in awe of Jen when she continued to go to her classes, even when she was already pregnant. I could not imagine how difficult it was to get up every morning and be out and about, especially during the first and second trimesters of the pregnancy. She powered through it all until she received another fantastic news on her third trimester about being able to graduate with all of us.
While Jen did not manage to march during graduation as she intended to do because her water broke the night before, the new baby proved to be a blessing to the couple at once, given that Joseph got accepted at a high-paying construction firm in the city as a civil engineer. It pretty much meant that their family’s future was already secure.
Since my parents did not raise me to be superstitious, I believed that Jen and Joseph would be the most blissful couple that I would ever meet. Their fights were always too cute to count as such; they cared deeply for each other. More importantly, they were all about healthy living.
Unfortunately, I was made to believe that people could not be too happy all the time when Jen called me one day, crying. I asked her why; she said that Joseph was diagnosed with diabetes.
I thought it was a prank or something. For one, Joseph was too far from being overweight. He always ate healthier stuff than all of us whenever we hung out. In truth, even Jen drank more alcohol than he ever did in his life. So, you would know that I meant it when I told her, “Get out of here. Why are you really calling me?”
But Jen was not pulling my leg – her husband genuinely got diagnosed with diabetes at 21 years old. The doctors could not tell what caused it, considering his family did not have a history of having the said condition. Still, they said that it was most likely because of Joseph’s love for fruits. According to Jen, he could eat a big watermelon on his own in one sitting every day.
After that diagnosis, Joseph had to go on a stricter diet and take some pills to regulate his insulin production. We all thought that everything would get better once he was on medication, but Jen told me that his blood sugar level would often go three or four times higher than usual. Worse, he kept on losing weight, thus making him look sickly.
I recommended changing Joseph’s doctor and giving them the number of my dad’s doctor. What’s different this time was that the latter required Joseph to do an executive checkup to see his overall health. Sadly, it turned out that blockages were beginning to form in his heart, and it could be the side effect of his diabetes.
The news naturally devastated the new couple. When I visited them at home, my best friend said that Joseph was worried primarily about dying early and not seeing their only son grow up.
Counseling My Friends
As a counselor, I felt like it was my duty to give them some mental health relief by helping them see such a challenging situation in a different light. After all, it was a blessing that they learned about Joseph’s new condition early. Otherwise, the man could have suffered from a heart attack, and they would be too shocked to do anything to save him.
“It’s a troubled time, I know, but this is when you need to be more optimistic than ever. You can afford the best treatment, but it won’t work if you feel worried and depressed all the time,” I said.
Both Jen and Joseph promised to try to be a little positive despite the circumstance. And it seemed to be working, considering my best friend just informed me right before publishing this blog that her husband was responding well to the insulin injections and heart medications.
It goes to show positive mental health can do wonders, even for your physical health.