Sometimes people get a picture in their heads that Autoimmune suffers are a group of middle aged women, hypochondriacs, constantly trotting off to the doctors, sitting around, moaning to everyone and getting around in pajamas all day! That is a sad stereotype that is both painful and misleading! Nothing could be further from the truth!
It is also probably the reason most people downplay the seriousness of these diseases because the world sees a group of white, middle aged women who are probably just “attention seeking” and “don’t look sick”.
When it comes to Autoimmune diseases, it doesn’t discriminate and they can happen to ANYONE! yes ANYONE.
Rich or poor. Big or small. Male or female. Young or old. Regardless of race or culture. ANYONE can have an autoimmune disease but it does tend to affect more women than men. Some diseases are more prevalent in certain groups… Why? Medical research doesn’t know yet.
Here are the statistics.
Did you know?Autoimmune diseases can affect anyone. Yet certain people are at greater risk, including:
Women of childbearing age — More women than men have autoimmune diseases, which often start during their childbearing years.
People with a family history — Some autoimmune diseases run in families, such as lupus and multiple sclerosis. It is also common for different types of autoimmune diseases to affect different members of a single family. Inheriting certain genes can make it more likely to get an autoimmune disease. But a combination of genes and other factors may trigger the disease to start.
People who are around certain things in the environment — Certain events or environmental exposures may cause some autoimmune diseases, or make them worse. Sunlight, chemicals called solvents, and viral and bacterial infections are linked to many autoimmune diseases.
People of certain races or ethnic backgrounds — Some autoimmune diseases are more common or more severely affect certain groups of people more than others. For instance, type 1 diabetes is more common in white people. Lupus is most severe for African-American and Hispanic people.
The fact that it completely changes lives and is currently incurable should be enough for people to think very carefully about how they react and treat sufferers.
Sadder still, is that some minority groups may be completely forgotten and overlooked by society altogether! They don’t get the support and help that they desperately need. This is greatly upsetting to me as I empathize deeply for anyone going through these struggles, let alone going through them alone or without recognition. Very few research or help has been extended to our indigenous brothers and sisters and this should be very distressing to society as a whole.
Since reaching out and connecting with others I have met such a diverse groups of wonderful people. Including nurses, fire fighters, teachers, marathon runners, successful business people, academics, mothers, fathers and soldiers.
I am amazed at who and where we are. We are all over the world. We are in every profession. We are multicultural. We are any age! – yes some sufferers are diagnosed at a very young age and must live with challenges and struggles all their lives!
I dearly want to tear down the stigma and reveal the true faces of Autoimmunes out there!
It is hard enough carrying the burdens and fighting the challenges of these diseases that we don’t need society dismissing and dehumanizing us even further.
The fact is everyone either knows someone with an autoimmune disease, are related to someone with an autoimmune disease or may work with someone with an autoimmune disease.
We need your understanding. We would appreciate your support. And we would be thrilled to get some respect for what we go through and what we must fight.
These diseases are serious. They can be debilitating. They can be progressive. They are definitely life changing. And sadly, they can be fatal.
Most sufferers work so hard just to be considered ‘normal’ and ‘valuable’. We may take serious medications, may undergo serious operations and may have to take on aggressive therapies which ALWAYS have serious side effects… all of this just to stay in this world and have an enjoyable life.
I long for a day when sufferers / survivors hold their heads high with pride and dignity. Where families and friends beam with pride at the courage and persistence of their loved ones… it CAN happen and you can make it possible.