I had never truly understood what it means to be loved until I was diagnosed with lupus.
Don’t get me wrong — I had an amazing upbringing. As a child and teenager, I wanted for nothing. I couldn’t have asked for better parents or a more wonderful family. Their support of me was unwavering, and their love was boundless. But it was incredibly easy to love me when I was happy and whole.
Until I was diagnosed with lupus, I had never known what it is like to be broken. In a twisted way, I was lucky. Three of four of my grandparents passed away before I was born or before I could remember them. At 20 years old, I had never mourned the passing of someone near and dear to me. I entered my 20s with no experience with grief. Then, without warning, it happened, and grief enveloped me.
When doctors told me I had lupus, my entire body went into shock. Thinking back to that life-altering hospital visit, my memories are murky. It feels like watching an old DVD that ends up in the hands of a toddler — parts of the disk are pristine, while others are scratched so deeply that chunks of footage are missing.
During that period of my life, I wasn’t lucid for months. I was in a haze, shifting between depression, shock, and grief. The haze of grief would have been hard enough to manage on its own, but add in the side effects of the medication prednisolone, and it became even more debilitating.
During those early months with lupus, while I was under the influence of grief and steroids, I essentially became a monster. Prednisolone brought out a side of me I still can’t identify with or understand, four years later.
Usually, my empathy, which is at the core of who I am, is boundless. Yet, if I take prednisolone, it’s like I never knew what empathy is.
My mum showed me what it means to really be loved. One afternoon, in a prednisolone-fueled rage, I hurt her feelings. I can’t even remember what I said, I just remember seeing the pain in her eyes and knowing it was my fault. It was obvious to her that I couldn’t comprehend what I had done. And even though she was hurting, and I was responsible for it, instead of fighting back, she offered me comforting words.
It takes a special kind of person to look past a monster and see a person who is hurting. The fact that I didn’t intend to hurt my mum didn’t change the fact that I had done it. In that moment, I don’t believe I deserved her kindness, patience, and love. Yet she gave them to me anyway.
In the last four years, I have been a less-than-ideal version of myself, and I don’t believe I deserved anyone’s love and care. Yet so many people around me have chosen to weather the storms with me.
I am far from perfect. Parts of me are still broken, jagged, and sharp, and sometimes they hurt the people I love most. But I want my loved ones to know that what they have done for me never goes unnoticed. Even on my haziest days, they stand by me, and their love never falters.
I will always work on smoothing out my edges and being a better version of myself. And in honor of my loved ones, I’ll endeavor to be my best and love them as unconditionally and fiercely as they love me.
Has someone in your life shown you what it means to be truly loved? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to lupus.
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