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Why Understanding the Origin of My Behcet's Disease Matters

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“Why me?”

This question pops up when I’m spiraling or having a rough time. This question has popped up a lot recently as I’ve been exhausted and overwhelmed with constant trauma (not just with my illness). I always seem to loop back around to it somehow being my fault or something I deserve. Logically, I know this isn’t right, but our brains work in weird ways and I end up beating myself up and putting some kind of blame on myself.

I spoke with my psychologist about this. He obviously couldn’t tell me why I’ve been handed so much to deal with, but he did try to explain a bit of the history behind my illness which helped me logically process “the why.”

Behçet’s disease (also known as Silk Road disease) is found predominantly in people with ancestors along the Silk Road. For nearly 2,000 years, traders used the 4,000-mile network linking the Far East with Europe to exchange goods, culture and, in the case of the Silk Road disease, genes.

What I found really interesting is that my Nan’s family originated from Norway and the Norwegian trade routes included the end of the Silk Road which makes a very likely explanation for me having the gene. Although it’s still totally random that out of our family/ancestry line, I’m the one who has the gene, it helped me to process that it’s part of my history and from my ancestors’ past rather than just random “bad luck.”

This has been so important for my mental health, to work through the logical explanations rather than beating myself up about the whys and the things I can’t control. They say knowledge is power and in this case, that’s absolutely true!

Originally published: November 11, 2021
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