I’ve been debating for a while now if this was something I wanted to share or keep private. I didn’t know if I wanted to risk the potential of being viewed in a different way. But then I realized – people don’t share enough about what’s real, what’s raw, and what’s LIFE. So, here it is.
Recently, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. Scary word, right? People see the word disease and basically think of the plague. No, I do not have the plague, but yes I have an autoimmune disease. People read my articles and see my Instagram and think everything must be great. Well, spoiler alert, I am just like you. A normal human being with the normal every day struggles of life. So, here it is…
A little over a month ago, I had strep. I knew the second I felt it coming on that it was strep because I’ve had it at least five times in my life. So I went to the doctor, got a z-pack, and felt better within a few days. Normal, right? Yeah, I thought so too at the time.
Fast forward to a week after I woke up with strep and I started getting these tiny itchy red bumps on my arms. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, so I just went about my days doing my normal routine. A week later I noticed that the itchy red bumps started to look more like a rash, except now it was spreading to my chest, stomach, and legs. It wasn’t too noticeable so I initially thought that maybe I was having some type of allergic reaction to something. Nope, wrong again.
I went to see my primary care doctor when the spreading initially occurred, but all she said was that it was a bad case of hives and there wasn’t much I could do other than apply hydrocortisone cream and wait it out. Well, tried that and things only got worse. A few days after the spreading occurred, the rash started to become blotchy but grouped together, it started to become darker, and it started to get worse. I started to have panic attacks and think there was actually something wrong with me. So, I went to a dermatologist and the first question he asked me when he saw me was: “have you been sick recently?”. I said yes I had strep about a week/week and a half ago. From there, he sat me down and said he needed to take a biopsy.
Photo – left: one week after strep, middle: two weeks after strep, right: two and a half weeks after strep
I’m no stranger to biopsies, but this time I was actually scared.
While my results didn’t give a 100% solidified answer, they were close enough to warrant phase 1 of treatment. I was put on a few heavy dose steroids, both oral and topical for about three weeks, but things really only started to fade on my arms, chest, and stomach.
I had no idea what was going on with my body. Basically what the doctors were telling me was that my immune system was going into “overdrive” and attacking itself. They didn’t have answers as to why or how long it would last. What they did tell me though was that strep was the trigger for the flare-up. *So, something to be aware of for any people who are pretty prone to getting strep.*
For weeks it consumed my mind, body (literally), and spirit. I have never experienced depression to the extent that I did during those 3-4 weeks. Everyone in my life knows me as this bubbly, energetic, positive, talkative, free-spirit person, and suddenly that version of me just completely disappeared. I couldn’t leave my apartment. I couldn’t find it in me to be myself around the people I cared about most. I sent a text maybe once in a while, but I had put up this massive wall that not even my best friends or family could break through.
I didn’t understand it. I didn’t know how to understand it. And I didn’t know how I would ever accept or understand it. I asked myself over and over again, “Why is this happening? Why me? What did I do to deserve this?” I blamed God and I blamed myself. I honestly and truly never felt so low then I did during those 3-4 weeks. And the scariest part to me was that I really honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to bounce back from it.
I definitely haven’t been able to accept things just yet, but what I have accepted is that this is life and having an autoimmune disease does not and will never define me. Once I realized that, I was able to pull myself out of the dark hole I had put myself in and finally start to feel like myself again. Especially once the flare-up started fading.
Do I still cry some nights because of trying to understand it? 100%.
Do I still get angry about it? 100%.
But I no longer blame God, and I no longer blame myself. I am still me, just with a couple more warrior scars.
So, if you’re battling with something that’s really tearing you up inside and you feel like you’re suffering alone…know that you are NOT alone. You are NOT defined by whatever it is that is holding you down. You are more than beautiful, just the way you are, and whatever it is that is going on in your life – no matter how big or small – is just that. Life. And it’s apart of your own unique story. And that is something you should never feel ashamed of.