Whenever I write about lupus, I refer to it as a separate entity. In my mind, my journey with lupus is a battle; it’s always been a “me versus the enemy” situation. However, the significance of mentally detaching myself from the disease didn’t occur to me until recently.
I had an epiphany and realize now that my illness isn’t a fundamental part of me.
When you catch the flu, you don’t think of it as part of you. You see it as a parasite that’s temporarily set up camp in your body. When you’re frustrated with being unwell, you loathe the viral illness, you don’t hate yourself. I’ve learned to think of my chronic illness in the same way.
I may have lupus. But I am not the chronic illness that I carry — and it is not me.
Although lupus lives inside of me, when I picture it and myself, I see two entirely separate beings. My ability to mentally emancipate myself has played a crucial role in my journey toward acceptance and healing.
Disassociating myself from lupus means that I have a healthy outlet toward which I can direct negative feelings and emotions. When I feel frustration and anger, I don’t experience these feelings for myself. I am angry and frustrated at lupus.
Making an enemy out of my illness was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It gives me a way to express and release my feelings while allowing me to resolve my conflict. During the grieving process, I had something at which to be angry. Instead of internalizing my confusion, sorrow, and anger, and turning it into self-hatred, I gave it all to lupus.
I often picture lupus as a person. In my mind, lupus is the face of anyone who’s ever doubted me or told me that I couldn’t achieve something, rolled into one. He’s always present standing over me, particularly when I’m struggling. He whispers in my ear telling me that I should give up already, coaxing me to give in. But even when I’m broken and crying on my knees, I make sure that he sees that one step I take toward getting back on my feet.
When I broke away from my illness, I took back control of my life. I told myself that I was more powerful than lupus could ever be, that I didn’t have to merely survive, I could thrive and flourish even in his presence, but I had to be willing to fight for it.
Three years post-diagnosis and I’m living my best life yet. You’d be amazed at what you can do in spite of your enemy.
Note: Lupus News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Lupus News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.