Lupus is an autoimmune disease where the immune system is hyper active and starts to attack healthy cells and tissues in the body. It is an illness that I am currently living with today and will have to endure forever.
I was first diagnosed with Lupus in 2012 and it was the toughest battle I have ever had to face. I was fifteen years old at the time and most of my teen years have been spent at the hospital, recovering from reoccurring flare-ups. Lupus took over my kidneys, brain, skin and joints and everyday is a constant battle. At the beginning of this journey, I had no idea what to expect. Constant joint pain, frequent hospital visits, a handful of different medications, concentration issues, mood swings and rapid weight gain became a part of my daily life. I had to readjust to a completely new lifestyle in order to cope with this illness and this meant putting a hold on my dreams of leading a happy, successful life. I was in constant pain, both emotionally and physically. It came to a point where waking up everyday became a constant struggle.
I let Lupus take over my body and my mind. I lost all of my confidence because I began to approach everything with a negative perspective. I thought my life was over and I was not worth it. On top of that, I was on so much medication that it changed the way I looked at my body everyday. I gained a great deal weight and whenever others saw me they felt compelled to tell me to lose weight and exercise more. The only problem was that no one was willing to give me a chance to explain anything, so I just went along with their perception that I was choosing to live an unhealthy lifestyle.
Four years went by and I was lonely, depressed, in pain and had absolutely no self-esteem. I gave up on myself until one day my parents and my brother reached out to me and told me that I had to get my act together. They wanted me to bring back the old Brintha! My mother challenged me that day and told me that she wanted me to rise up by helping to educate others about Lupus. Instead of surrendering to the stigma of my chronic illness, she wanted me to be the role model that I wish I had myself. My mother wanted me to show everyone that I am capable of doing anything. At the time, I brushed her advice off because I didn’t think that anyone would take me seriously.
I was wrong.
I went to therapy, I talked to other adolescents with Lupus and I slowly started to regain hope. I challenged myself to accomplish my mother’s vision and I am slowly getting there each and everyday. It took quite a bit of time, but I managed to rise up in my life because I have a strong support system to pick me up every time that I fall. It has now been five years since my diagnosis and I’m trying again! The best part is that I have been in remission for a couple of months now and I have used this opportunity to get back on my feet and get my life sorted out. So far the accomplishments that I am most proud of are getting back into school, writing articles on Tamil Culture, speaking at public events, educating others about Lupus and making new friends who support me through my struggles. I now appreciate life, which means that everyday I am ready to get up and face my illness so that I can defeat Lupus.
In a way, Lupus has been both a misfortune and a blessing in my life. Everyday is a new learning experience for me. I have learned that everyone will face at least one challenge in his or her lifetime, but it is up to you how you choose to navigate those challenges. You can either learn to accept your flaws or let them control your life forever. Only you have that choice! To all the readers out there, my challenge to you is the same as the one my mother gave me; embrace your flaws and rise above them. It is okay to fall down but it is up to you whether you will get back up or not. Always remember that your immunity is the power to change.