The Moment I Took My Life With Lupus Back Into My Own Hands

I remember the day I was diagnosed with lupus. And I remember the weeks that followed as I floated around in a haze of shock, not truly able to comprehend what was happening. I wasn’t in denial, but I hadn’t quite grasped what had occurred and that, although I had been discharged from hospital, my life had been altered; it would never be as I knew it.

I don’t know exactly when reality set in, but I remember going from a state of disbelief, to acceptance and then for a short while I found myself at resignation. It wasn’t that I gave up, or started to think my life was over because of lupus, but I started to see my illness as the biggest part of my life.

My greatest mistake was letting lupus take center stage while I tried to live my life around it, as if it was the starring actor in the movie that was my life. Do you know what it’s like to take a backseat role in your own life? For a moment there I did.

I can pinpoint the moment I took my life back into my own hands, as it was the day I contacted an old friend from school to start personal training. It took me weeks to get the courage just to send a simple message inquiring whether he had space for me, but it was that simple action that kick-started my ascent back to controlling my life.

I started going to the gym because I wanted power, not only in the physical sense, but mentally as well. I wanted to feel as if I was strong enough to beat my illness and to challenge it, just as it had challenged me.

My starting goal was merely to get fit and tone myself, and I had counted on struggling and having to consciously push myself. But I hadn’t counted on a resurgence in my confidence and the feeling that not only could I do this, but I could do anything.

In the past 12 months I have reinvented myself more than most people would in a lifetime. I have been so many different versions of myself: The girl who was broken, the girl diagnosed with lupus, the girl who was struggling, the girl who was coping.

But somewhere along the line I realized that I couldn’t stop at just “coping.” I couldn’t live the rest of my life just getting by with my condition; I needed more than that.

So, I unknowingly took myself on a journey — a journey of reevaluation, of empowerment, of confidence and power. Though I didn’t know it at the time of embarkation, I needed to prove something to myself.

I needed to prove that I am so much bigger, and so much more than my lupus.

There was a time, not long ago where I took a step back to realize I was becoming but a pawn in my own life. It was at this point I hit a fork in the road where there were two distinct options: Take another step back, sink into the background and give it all up, or shake it off, step up to the plate and get ready to fight for what’s rightfully mine.

There are make-or-break moments in life, and this was the most significant of my life to date. I can’t pretend it was easy. But, looking back, it’s funny how something that seemed so trivial at the time was the most important decision I ever made.

It wasn’t simply making the decision to start going to the gym that was so monumental, but deciding that I was so much more than what I was settling for in that moment.

It was deciding that I wasn’t born to be a pawn. I’m a queen. This is my game and so long as I can help it, you’ll play by my rules!

This post originally appeared in Kristiana Page’s column “The Girl Who Cried Wolf” on Lupus News Today.

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