I recently received a message from a stranger inviting me to buy the book “learn how to live well with chronic illness”. I felt compelled to write about it.
The thing that I find so surprising about people who write to me is that they seem convinced that I must be languishing in complete misery, unable to feel joy or happiness anymore and not trying to ‘live well with illness’. I am shocked that they could think this because I believe myself to be, without any false modesty, one of the most positive, humorous, caring, committed, resourceful, intelligent, loving, passionate and spirited people that I know. I am indeed living as best I can with the challenges I have.
I can only think that its because they don’t know me or have any idea who I am and what I have done which has compelled them to reach out to me in such a way and offer me anything from diets to pity, spiritual advice to exercise suggestions; Not to mention a myriad of cures.
I should take this opportunity to explain that my reasons for writing Autoimmunitygirl as truthfully and as openly as I do, is to connect with others and to validate our experiences, and most importantly, to show the rest of the world what living with Autoimmune illnesses can be truly like.
I am not ashamed of my journey, or my life and I am not trying to become famous. I just wanted to raise awareness and make some connections with others along the way. There are many experiences we share as a community and if something that I write helps validate someone, resonates with someone or teaches someone else then its worth the time and effort that I put into this site.
I always intend this site to be a vehicle of hope and information. A place where others can come and share their own thoughts and experiences without fear or judgement. A chance to connect with someone who is not afraid to speak the truth and speak openly.
I have always told my friends and loved ones that aside from my health there is nothing that I would change about my life and who I am. There are things that I owe my illness for teaching me and there are also things that I struggle with every day. There are always two sides of the coin.
For the record, I have read more Autoimmune illnesses books, diet books, cures, inspirational books, self help books, self love books, homeopathic books, alternative medicine books than the average person will read in a lifetime and I will continue to read and educate myself for as long as draw breath.
My illness is not a choice. I did not choose to be, or to stay ill, its not a lifestyle choice and its not a failing or lack of character on my part. It is a life event that happened to me and how I cope with it everyday is the proudest achievement that I will ever make. More proud than anything I achieved during my career or during my university studies. But ALL of these things made me who I am today; with the help of some of the very special people in my life as well. They know who they are.
Apart from writing this blog I also use my talents and experiences in many other ways, including forming support groups, intended to encourage, uplift and promote dignity within the Autoimmune and Chronic Illness communities.
Anyway… I think you are getting the picture.
I write openly and truthfully because this life has taught me to be courageous and I hope my honesty will increase awareness. That is at the root of all that I do now. Awareness.
If you really want to help me live the best life I can with Autoimmune diseases, spread the word. No, shout the word. Keep spreading awareness and reaching out to the rest of the world about what is happening to people who have these diseases and how they are doing the best they can to cope with the challenges. But then again… we CAN always use every bit of love, research, empathy and support we can get. THAT would really help me (and others) live well with Autoimmune Illnesses!