Living with an Autoimmune Disease

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I have Graves disease. It’s an autoimmune disease that affects my thyroid and has no cure. When I was diagnosed in mid-2017, I assumed I would be on medication for a couple of years and then my doctors would reduce my medication and I would go into remission. It was my plan and my expectation. Although there is no cure, it is possible for some people to go into remission at various times with their disease, so it became a goal of mine.

I was given the green light to reduce medication this past November and by mid-December, I felt like my pre-diagnosed self again. Impatient, annoyed, lack of empathy, argumentative, tummy issues, and heart palpitations. I see now that I was sick, but I ignored it with a busy work schedule, family, and the upcoming Christmas holiday.

We like to do that as women … “I’m too busy to deal with my health,” even when we know we don’t feel right! At some point, you must take care of yourself or you won’t be able to take care of your family.

Needless to say, my thyroid flipped out on reduced medication. Besides not physically feeling well from my autoimmune disease, I took a hit mentally too.

I don’t fail. In my adult life, I have accomplished most things that I have set my mind to, so I figured why would this be any different? In the past couple of months, I’ve had to rewire my brain to realize that this is not a failure. I am not a failure. I had a huge expectation and I should have known better.

Being a stepmom, I’ve learned a lot about expectations and family life is more fun when I have low expectations. There are many expectations that I’ve had in my blended family life, such as family vacations, child manners, holidays, etc., that I’ve had to let go of because I’m often disappointed that things don’t go as I’ve imagined them. Learning to have lower or no expectations in situations has made me a better wife and stepmom. I wish that I would have had the same ‘lack of expectation’ mindset when it came to my health.

I caught myself off-guard with the hefty expectation of going into remission from a chronic illness. I cannot control this. I have limited control over my thyroid and this disease. I’ve done everything in my power the past couple of years to help, such as yoga and meditation, healthy eating, moving my body, low to no alcohol…I even gave up caffeine!! Nothing has helped except for medication. And that is okay. It is not what I expected, but oftentimes life does not go as we expect.  

As annoyed as I was for being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, I now realize that part of me is thankful. When I was diagnosed, I was forced to focus on self-care, personal development, working out, and eating healthy. I feel better than I have in years because I prioritized myself. 

And in doing so, I found myself again. I didn’t expect that!