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I Refuse to Let Chronic Illness Affect My Sense of Self-Worth

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Being diagnosed with lupus has taught me a lot, not only about myself but also about my self-worth. Sometimes I used to find myself a bit disheartened when I thought not just about relationships and love but also friendships, worrying too often that because of my chronic illness I don’t deserve as much as I once did.

Going into new relationships, regardless of whether they’re romantic or platonic, at one point or another the truth about lupus has to come out.

A year ago, I was almost hesitant to tell someone about having an autoimmune disease, as I was scared to see their reaction. But over time, I’ve become increasingly confident and less concerned about what someone else might think about my chronic illness. The thing is, I can’t change the fact that I’ve got lupus; it’s a part of me as much as the color of my skin or my height — and that’s merely the truth.

Over the last 12 months, I’ve also learned about the kinds of people I want to surround myself with.

On basic principle, my life is likely to be an uphill battle. Anything I want I’ll have to work for, and it’s with that in mind I conclude I don’t have energy to waste. If someone doesn’t want to be a part of my life because of lupus, that’s absolutely fine, but I also know they’re definitely not worth my time or energy. And while I’m aware that might come off as arrogant, I won’t be apologizing, as that’s exactly what I believe.

Life with a chronic illness is not easy. And anyone who can push past their perpetual personal adversity and continue to achieve so much deserves better than to be judged on a single facet of who they are. I am so much more than an illness, and if you can’t see past that small part of me — if that’s all that’s visible to you — there’s no chance you’ll ever see me for everything I am and can be, which is your loss.

Sometimes I used to really doubt myself. With a list of problems and potential issues as long as my arm, that undoubtedly will only continue to grow. How could someone ever want to involve someone as chaotic as me in their life? But over time, I’ve learned to take a step back, to see myself for everything I’ve achieved and strive to achieve in my lifetime. My hurdles are not the same as everyone else’s, but never has that stopped me from jumping over each and every one of them, no matter how many or how high.

When I was first diagnosed with lupus it was almost like this invisible line was placed between those who are sick and anybody else who was “healthy.” Everyone on the other side deserved better than someone like me. But that right there is stigma, and I refuse to accept it.

Having a faulty immune system is not my doing, and it has never been, nor will it be, a deciding factor in what I deserve.

I won’t settle for less merely because of something that was not my fault or my choosing. I will not believe I’m unworthy because I don’t fit under the umbrella term “healthy.” And I will not be pigeonholed or looked down upon by anyone who doesn’t understand my journey or my struggle.

I’m strong, determined, hardworking and talented, and lupus didn’t change that. Know your worth and own it!

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

Thinkstock photo via wacomka.

Originally published: September 15, 2017
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