A little over a year ago I got the news I had an autoimmune disease. The first things that went through my mind were confusion, shock, disappointment, panic, worry, the list goes on and on! The more I learned, the more I worried! In my head, all day long, I had so many thoughts and all of them were worries. The more I worried, the more down I felt. One thing I learned really quick about autoimmune diseases is that many result in severe depression. Imagine waking up sick one day and learning you will never get better. It turns your whole life around and its very lonely because so few people know anything about these silent diseases. I look fine (a tab bit fluffier than before I got sick) on the outside, but on the inside many of my organs are struggling, my body is attacking itself, and each day is a silent battle.
After having a few days where I had pity parties for myself, I decided one reason I have this is because I have a voice, and most times I’m not afraid to use it!!! This subject has been harder for me to share though. I like to present myself as being strong, positive, a go-getter….not someone who is sick and “weak”. I can’t change having this disease, but what I can do is be more open about it! I can use my struggles to bring awareness. I can encourage someone who felt despair upon getting diagnosed. I can push people to learn more to help their friends and family who struggle with autoimmune disease. I can share with people how your life might be harder, but you can still find joy!! I can remind people not to judge, as you never know how much pain someone might be in. I can use my voice and hopefully inspire at least one person!
I’ve met so many people in the past year who also have major health issues, and the main thing we discuss is how lonely it is! I recently spoke to a young woman who got diagnosed 4 years ago and not a single member of her family asks how she is doing, knows what she has, or tries to help her. Unfortunately that is VERY common! I personally have been blessed with an amazing tribe! The moment I was diagnosed, my aunt was looking up what I had on google. My dad always encourages me, looks for options that might help me, and reminds me I can reach out to him at any moment! My best friends send me articles, encourage me, remind me not to overdo it, and notice the days I’m a little to quiet. On the days where we feel very bad, the worse part is to be alone! If you know someone with an autoimmune disease, make sure to reach out to them! Even if its just to say “Hi” or “I’m praying for you”….just let them know they are NOT alone! Plus, when you are sick, tired, and depressed, you don’t feel like talking to people. If your friend or family member has a chronic illness, be the one to reach out to THEM!!! Nothing is worse than when you feel sick and overwhelmed and have a list of people YOU have to check in on….I know relationships are a two way street, but when someone is sick, don’t make them chase you down. Trust me on this one, it’s huge and so important!!
Other than being around for your friend, if you know someone with an autoimmune disease, you should also take the time to learn more about it! It will show them you care, but it will also let you know what they are going through. I’ve seen many people make hurtful comments about chronic diseases simply because they were to lazy to get on google and learn. Education is key! With that being said, I would love to share a little about autoimmune disease with you! If you have one, know someone who does, or just want to be more aware, there are tons of great resources online to learn! I personally think the best place and way to learn is by asking someone who has one! Even though you didn’t ask, I’m going to use my voice and share! Please share this with others, the more awareness, the better! It could reach someone who is feeling very alone right now.
- An autoimmune disease is where your body attacks it’s own cells. It cause your immune system to be jeopardized and thus easily susceptible to more infections. It’s a chronic illness, has no cure, and for many people, it’s a depressing and lonely disease that for many people gets worse over time.
- There are over 100 different autoimmune diseases. Many have similar symptoms which makes them hard to diagnose. Some autoimmune disease actually cause you to get more.
- Over 50 million people in the US have an autoimmune disease, and yet less than 13 percent of people know what an autoimmune disease is! Autoimmune diseases are one of the top killers of women under the age of 65!
- Many autoimmune disease run in families. If someone in your family has one, learn everything you can because you could end up with it, or one of your kids! Early detection can save years of pain!
- The average person has to visit 4 different doctors before finding one who takes autoimmune diseases seriously. Most are told it’s “all in your head” and for many people it takes 2-4 years before they are diagnosed….talk about depressing!
- Autoimmune diseases are the 4th largest cause of disability for women in the United States.
- Most autoimmune diseases are hereditary. You can’t catch it, cause yourself to get it, fake it, or have any say in how it works. It’s your body attacking itself and there is no medicine to stop it. Often times once it “breaks” something in you, you then get a medicine to repair what’s broken, but their is not a medicine to keep more things from getting broken.
- The average person has an autoimmune disease for many years, they just aren’t aware until it gets really bad. Different things can cause it to cause problems, but the most common are things like an illness, change in hormones (pregnancy or menopause), extreme stress.
- Autoimmune diseases don’t care your age, occupation, health, gender etc they just attack!
- Many people with an autoimmune disease wake up one day feeling bad. They go to the doctor but they can’t figure pout what’s wrong. Then they keep feeling bad each day with no clue why. Having an autoimmune disease is literally waking up sick one day knowing you’ll never get better again.
- Some people go into remission with their disease, in which for awhile your symptoms are not as bad. Other people never have a remission and stay in what we call a “flare up”. The problem is autoimmune diseases cause inflammation, inflammation causes damage to your organs, and many more serious issues I don’t like to discuss.
- One of the hardest parts of an autoimmune disease it’s the side effects. They range from joint pain, depression, weight gain, hair loss, exhaustion, insomnia, fever, etc. There are hundreds of different symptoms and each person’s is different. For me personally, I had exhaustion, bruising on my body, high fevers, a weak immune system, headaches, hair loss, nails breaking, and weight gain.
- Every person’s autoimmune disease is different. I’ve talked to women with the same condition as me who don’t get out of bed most days. I met one at the doctor who said she has to be on disability and has a live in nanny to help with her kids. I met another who knew it ran in her family, got tested early, and changed her lifestyle so she has never had an issue. Every person is different so make sure to ask how they feel and not go by what you read offline. One of my major issues is I get high fevers, I’ve yet to meet another person who has that problem haha.
After reading that, not only are you probably shocked but also a little scared for your friend/family member. Don’t be scared, be prepared! When you know the facts, it allows you to better help them! One of my first suggestions is find an naturopath doctor, functional medicine doctor or holistic doctor. Those types focus on how to get your body to stop attacking itself, and not just on the damage it causes. Plus, they actually listen! I’ve had the wonderful pleasure of learning most doctors do not listen as autoimmune diseases are not something they understand. Next step is learn about nutrition! It plays a huge role and can help you with many of your symptoms! Also, find someone to talk to! Falling into depression is so common but if you have someone to lean on, it makes all the difference!
Yes autoimmune diseases are something you have for life, but I think with the proper care, education, and mind set you will be ok. That is what I tell myself! I’ve been in a really bad flare up for months, but I know one day we’ll figure out how to stop it, and then I’ll have so many amazing tips to share with others! I also think this will allow me to show others that no matter what obstacles are thrown in your way, if you never give up, amazing things will eventually happen! Today is a good day for me, and I’ve learned to say THANK YOU for the good ones! No matter how few and far between they might be!
If you have an autoimmune disease, or know someone who does, please feel free to share any tips. Or if you need someone to talk to, I’m here!! This is hard to write and a very sensitive subject so kind words, prayers, support are always welcome!
Make sure to follow my blog as I will work hard on being more open about this! Have a blessed day!!
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