Living with an autoimmune disease is challenging and exhausting. Some days are great and some days are just downright awful. And the worst part is that you don’t get to choose the “good days” and the “bad days” – your body does. You can be doing everything right and still have days where getting out of bed is a daunting task.
Autoimmune diseases are rarely talked about and this article isn’t meant to be a sob story of “oh poor me” but rather a glimpse into the world of autoimmune disease. The thing about autoimmune diseases is that you can’t see them; instead, they manifest themselves into a vast array of symptoms that can include anything from chronic pain and inflammation, exhaustion, brain fog, anxiety and depression to changes in body temperature. Most of them do not have a cure and they almost always affect every single person differently (YAY… ugh). Most people don’t understand that when you’re battling an autoimmune disease, your body is literally attacking itself. Your cells and organs are at war with each other and your body has a hard time recognizing what is toxic and what is not.
For someone with an autoimmune disease, basic human tasks like sleeping, eating, exercising and relaxing are often more important and must take a higher priority. We all know it’s not good to skip a meal because it may cause a slight headache for the average Joe but for someone with an autoimmune disease it can be detrimental to their well-being for sustained periods of time. I’ve learned that there’s no time like the present and that you must take things one day at a time. I’ve learned that I HAVE to put my health first whether I want to or not. I’ve learned that sleep is key. I’ve learned that I HAVE to de-stress and relax (whether I have time to or not). I’ve learned that my body deserves respect even if it’s fighting itself. I’ve learned that I can live a life I’m proud of and that I’m not defined by these challenges.
I’d be lying if I said it was easy because it’s not… but life goes on and you must keep moving forward. Some days I wake up and feel like I can take on the world. I even think to myself I’ll show this thing that I’m the boss. However, some days brushing my teeth or walking to class seems like it will take an insurmountable effort. I also found out that my body rejects and attacks so many foods that were a part of my daily routine (all healthy foods too!). I’ve had to drastically change the way that I eat and my diet has literally become a science. I’ve had to shift how I think about food; I must now eat to fuel my body for all of the tasks it must accomplish. I can no longer eat purely for taste but trust me, I’m starting to make and create some delicious recipes! My life is filled with more doctors appointments than I’d like to have and I take upwards of 10 vitamins/medications a day to function… but that doesn’t mean I’m weak. It means I’m powerful beyond measure because I battle with my own body every day and I’ve never given up.
If you ask me, my track record is pretty good because I’m still standing. Keep fighting. You’re not suffering from an autoimmune disease; you’re LIVING with one. Dare to make that life amazing!
You never know what someone else is going through especially when they live with an invisible illness. Please be kind, always. Support and love your friends through all of life’s challenges. Be there.