Signing off, with tears in my eyes and joy in my heart

In her final column, Kristiana Page bids readers farewell

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by Kristiana Page |

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For me, writing has always been equal parts advocacy and therapy. I wanted to help others but I also needed a way to deal with the vortex of emotions swirling inside of me.

Early on, I wrote regularly about all the struggle, pain, and heartache associated with my lupus diagnosis. Inspiration came easily and often because those were central themes of the early years of my life with lupus. The emotions that marked that period of my life were so raw and overwhelming. I didn’t so much write as pour it out of me and onto the page.

During the first year after my diagnosis, the hits felt relentless. When I think back to that period of my life, I’m reminded of surfing in my teens. I compare being newly diagnosed with getting caught in the impact zone of a beach break on the first of a six-wave set.

If you’ve surfed, you’ll know what I’m talking about: You’ve fallen off the surfboard in the worst spot, at the worst time, and your board is an entire length of leg rope away. Wave after wave crashes down on your head. As you bob up and down like a cork, you can only hope that the other surfers don’t ride over you.

Every other set had only five waves, so you’re counting the mountains of white water while desperately trying to drag your surfboard back to you. You survive the fifth crest and take that big breath of relief — only to realize there’s one more wall of water on the horizon, and it’s heading your way, fast. So you end up taking the brunt of that one, too.

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Starting A New Chapter: Lupus

Eventually, it stops. Finally. You begin to collect yourself, your board, and your dignity (what’s left of it) and start the slow journey out again. You’re exhausted and the worse for wear, but also a little wiser and less naive. Next time around, things will be different.

I began my writing journey with Lupus News Today in 2016 as a scared, newly diagnosed, 20-year-old kid. When no one around me understood what I was going through, I took to the keyboard and vented.

Over time, my motivation for writing changed. It became less about me and more about all the people who felt like I once had: isolated, fearful, and alone. Sharing my journey, in all its struggle and glory, was the gift I wish my newly diagnosed self had back in 2016.

The right time

I’ve recently realized that it’s time for me to step away from “The Girl Who Cried Wolf” for good. My passion for raising awareness and helping to reduce the stigma around chronic and rare diseases hasn’t changed. I still want to have those conversations and inform and educate the community, just in a different way.

Today, my life and my priorities are very different. It’s time to start a new chapter — one where the spotlight is focused less on my chronic illness and more on me.

I began this journey feeling like lupus was the main character in my story and I was only a feature. Nowadays, that couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve reclaimed the main character’s role, and it’s my responsibility to ensure that this narrative reaches its full potential. It’s time for this heroine to take chances on herself and let the plot run wild.

Last year, I wrote about the overwhelming changes in my life and how I’d finally found peace. Nearly a year later, that theme has continued to grow. My life is more stable now than it ever has been since my diagnosis. For the first time in my life, I have clarity about both where I am and where I’m headed. I’m ready to hunt down some big goals, and the time is now.

As I write the ending to this episode, reminiscing on my journey with Lupus News Today, I’ll admit I’m a little sad. But I know it’s the right choice, and the timing couldn’t be more fitting.

Last weekend, I entered the Australian Federation of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu championships with a goal and walked out the women’s blue belt lightweight national champion. As I met my partner, Felix, and the realization of what I had accomplished set in, we embraced and both cried tears of happiness.

And that’s where I’m starting my new chapter: with tears in my eyes, determination and joy in my heart, and Felix by my side.

It has truly been an honor and a pleasure to write for Lupus News Today. If you’ve been along on the journey with me, even if just for a few columns, thank you! If you want to keep up with what I’m doing, you can find me on Instagram (@kristianapage).

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.