Sadly, there is so much of my experience of living with lupus that people do not understand. It’s very hard to comprehend what it would be like to live with a chronic illness if you’ve never experienced anything like it before. I’ve always struggled with how to communicate and help others better understand what my life is really like with this illness, and there are a few key things that I wish people knew about living with lupus.
My health can change at the drop of a hat. I can feel completely fine one minute, and the next, I can be in extreme pain. It’s infuriating that it can change that fast and it makes planning and doing activities very difficult. It means I have to cancel plans at the last minute and always be prepared to say no to things I really wish I could do. This doesn’t make me flaky or a bad friend, it just means I have to prioritize my health.
Pushing through pain or a certain symptom in order to attend an event has the potential to put me in a flare-up or make me sick for weeks. I always have to balance what I think I can push through and what I can’t. But that doesn’t mean that just because I’m out and doing something that I’m feeling well. Most of the time, at any point in the day, I’m experiencing some symptom to some degree, but I’m able to exist with it for that time period.
Being chronically ill can be extremely isolating. Even though I’ve worked hard to connect with others with chronic illness, I often feel alone and misunderstood. Especially now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve really struggled with my relationships, with my friends, and family. Because I am extremely limited in my ability to see people and do activities, I feel like I’m living in a different world than the people who are living “normally,” and it’s hard to relate to each other. It can be really painful to feel like people don’t respect or understand what I’m going through, and I struggle not to take it personally.
Living with lupus is a full-time job. Not only am I managing my symptoms every day, I am also attending appointments and handling administrative tasks. Taking care of myself is a job on its own – noticing what symptom I’m experiencing, choosing what medication or treatment is best to alleviate it, or deciding whether it’s a symptom I can manage on my own or if I need to contact a doctor. I go to at least one doctor a week, and many weeks it’s multiple doctors, tests, or treatments. Dealing with pharmacy refills, health insurance, scheduling – it all takes a huge amount of time and energy.
I hope that people will listen more to their loved ones about what it’s like to live with a chronic condition, ask questions, and learn about their day-to-day experience. I believe in the power of empathy and believe that if you really make an effort to understand, you will. We all deserve to be seen, heard, and understood.
Join the WebMD Lupus conversation on Facebook.
Photo Credit:Konstantin Sud / Eyeem Premium via Getty Images
Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.
Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.