A few months ago I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome. Yeah, I didn’t know what it was either, let alone spell it or pronounce it. Come to find out, it is a chronic, slowly progressive, inflammatory auto-immune disorder that interferes with the normal function of the parotid (salivary) glands and lacrimal (tear) glands resulting in a significant reduction in moisture in the mouth and eyes. Even to the point of no production at all. Secondary challenges include cavities in teeth, chronic inflammation, sinus issues, skin rashes, nervous and gastrointestinal complications, and on and on.
As a nurse, I have been aware of autoimmune diseases but up until now, no one in my close family had this experience. For those of you who may not be aware, autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own organs and tissues. Multiple sclerosis, Diabetes, Lupus, Vitiligo, Addison’s, Endometriosis, Crohn’s, Irritable Bowel Syndrome are just some of the more than 100 autoimmune diseases out there. Interestingly, the literature indicates that there has been a 4-7 percent increase in autoimmune disorders diagnosed each year and those affected by it are getting younger and younger.
So the immune system attacks healthy cells and tissues because it mistakes them as foreign invaders….okay, but why? No one knows why. Why does your body go from being in peace and balance to staging its own war within itself? And what does this have to do with relationships?
As I became more aware of this new diagnosis, I couldn’t help but reflect on my past and other wars I have raged on myself. The body-image war; one that still rages on although there are longer periods of cease fire and resulting peace. The inauthentic/authentic war trying to please others so that I feel loved and wanted. The I-don’t-know-how-to-get-out-of-this war so contemplating ending my life seems like a great idea. The I’m-not-good-enough/not-pretty-enough, not something enough (you fill in the blank) war. I’ve been at war with myself way before my body started flashing the blue light letting me know that it’s needing my attention.
I would like to hear from you. Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder? Do you have a history of or are still currently experiencing negative body-image thoughts? Struggling with authenticity? Contemplating self-harm or suicide? Or in any other way, experiencing conflict within yourself? Please share your story and leave your comments below. Let’s figure this out and create new hope!