Meet Hannah L.
“My biggest challenge with my autoimmune journey was accepting that the rest of my life would look different than what I imagined.”
What has been your biggest challenge on your autoimmune journey?
My biggest challenge with my autoimmune journey was accepting that the rest of my life would look different than what I imagined. I was diagnosed at 19 years old with a very serious autoimmune disease. Almost overnight, I went from being healthy, active normal teenager to having to manage several medications and doctors. When I was in college, I really despised the fact that no one else had to keep up with doctor’s appointments, blood work, prescription refills, and medical bills.
What has been instrumental in helping you navigate and adapt to living with autoimmune disease(s)?
I’ve honestly just had to tell myself. “It is what it is.” I can’t change my situation, but I can follow through with treatments, and make sure the rest of my body is being taken care of. I chose to look at the positive side of things and focus on what is going right. Because while my autoimmune disease is a big factor in my life, it doesn’t have to consume me. That is one thing I can control.
What advice would you give someone who is struggling with an autoimmune disease(s)?
The best advice I could give, would be to put just as much strength and energy into preserving your mental health as much as you do your physical. Find a support group. Get a therapist.
Why is it important for those who are living with a specific autoimmune condition to join together and raise awareness about autoimmune diseases as a category?
For many of us who do have autoimmune diseases, whether it be because of side effects or immunosuppressants, we are considered high risk for illness. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the whole world was scared. For those of us who are high-risk, it was terrifying. For the first time ever, my illness affected my career because I could not work around others. I could not go to events. My life depended on social distancing, wear a mask, and ultimately just staying home.
There were many people who didn’t want to wear a mask and didn’t understand why they needed to take precaution to keep others safe. There was no empathy coming from a lot of people. I really believe that those same people don’t realize how many people are actually very high risk of getting COVID, and many of us would not be able to survive it.
With that, if any of us that are high-risk could survive COVID, the after effects are very damaging and I know many of us in the autoimmune community would absolutely hate to deal with more issues, more medications, more doctors.
COVID is a perfect example of why we all need to use our voice to bring awareness to this community. We are not understood enough, and that can be dangerous.
Looking for more information?
Many of our partner organizations specialize in support for specific autoimmune diseases and have additional resources, research and care-management information available.