Disability

Why You Shouldn’t Laugh When I Mention Harry Styles

          Let’s face it, everybody that knows me knows I’m “obsessed” with Harry Styles.  It’s easy to listen to me ramble on about how much I love him—or simply mention his name—and get annoyed.  But let me just tell you: there are some things you don’t know that you should.

          Ever since late 2010, I’ve loved, admired, and supported One Direction, particularly Harry Styles.  Posters adorn the walls in my room; my camera roll is full of pictures of them; my lock screen is me with Harry Styles; and I have all their albums on my phone.  To most people, I look like any ordinary teenage girl with a boyband obsession, but that’s not true.  My “obsession” is more than that, and here’s why.

          Living with a chronic illness such as Transverse Myelitis can be difficult.  As a fifteen-year-old girl, I visit way more doctors and hospitals than most people my age, and I endure so many painful tests and experiences that I shouldn’t.  Although I’ve learned to accept that this is the way my life is, things haven’t always been the easiest for me.

          When I was just ten years old, I was battling depression.  At such a young age, I didn’t quite understand why my mind was filled with such dark thoughts of pain and sadness.  There were nights when I would cry myself to sleep and wish I wasn’t alive, or I would think of how to hurt myself while I should’ve been concentrating at school.  I was only in fourth grade and I should’ve been living my life like any normal little girl, but I wasn’t because of TM, which brought on my depression.

          Honestly speaking, I would not be here if it weren’t for Harry Styles.  During my particularly rough bout of depression between 2012-August 2014, I always reminded myself that I had Harry to keep me happy when I needed him.  And so, One Direction’s music blasted through my speakers at my times of crisis, their videos took up my YouTube likes, their song lyrics became my mottos, and I didn’t ever feel depressed when I thought of them.  When I’d start crying myself to sleep, I no longer did so for hours, because the happiness Harry brought me kept me going.

harry book
Harry and I with my first book.

          The greatest moment of my life was when the Make-A-Wish Foundation granted my Wish to meet One Direction in August 2014.  I have never been as happy as I was the day I met them.  All the boys, Harry especially, were so incredibly kind.  They didn’t act bored and simply pose for a picture—they spent valuable time with me and shared conversation.  I presented them with my first book, 5k, Ballet, and a Spinal Cord Injury, and Harry was extremely impressed and enthusiastic.  As Harry and I hugged and exchanged “I love you”s, I knew that I would be happy forever.  Since the moment I headed to their concert with tears of happiness streaming down my face just after meeting them, my depression hasn’t returned.  Who knew it could take so little—a conversation, hug, smile, and “I love you more”— to cure something so big?

MEMORIES

          Aside from One Direction’s music cheering me up, their concerts have been the greatest experiences of my life.  Whenever I need to travel on a medical trip, my mom takes me to see them perform in order to make a not-so-fun trip amazing.  Starting with my first One Direction concert in Minneapolis, I’ve made so many incredible memories on trips that normally wouldn’t have been fun because of One Direction.  They completely changed my outlook on these medical trips, because now, good memories are associated with the cities I visit for appointments.

          My greatest, most memorable One Direction concert was in Baltimore on August 8, 2015, almost a year after I’d met them.  I was there to see doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital, but having their concert to look forward to made me excited to go to Baltimore for once.  I had been expecting to have a wonderful time, but not this much of a wonderful time.  From the moment the concert began, Harry paid attention to me—he blew kisses at me, waved, gave me peace signs, and communicated with me throughout the entire show.  The best moment was when he knelt down in front of me, pointed at me, and tossed me his towel.  It sounds crazy and stupid to most people that I’d be excited to get a sweaty towel, but the fact that he remembered me almost a year later and so very intentionally gave me his towel (that he normally carelessly throws to the back of the crowd) was simply amazing.  No words other than “amazing” can describe that experience: my favorite singer remembered who I was, read my book, and treated me like I was the only fan he saw in a crowd of 80,000.  It was no surprise I was bawling as I told him thank you, and it was no surprise he smiled back and gave me a thumbs up.

harry baltimore
Harry and I talking at the concert in Baltimore.

          Baltimore is one of my favorite places because of Harry now.  Every time I’m strolling through the city, memories of Harry treating me like a princess come back to me, and a smile makes its way onto my face.

          So … yeah.  You can laugh when you notice Harry Styles hugging me is my lockscreen on my phone; you can tell me I’m too “obsessed” with him, but I hope you understand just how much I need him.  Without him, I might not still be here.  Harry is the reason I’m able to smile every day, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.  So, thank you again, Harry, for giving me Something Great, helping me Through the Dark, and giving me a reason to keep going.  I’m honored to call myself your most special fan.