A woman comforts a younger version of herself, their hair together forming a mountain range with a sun high in the sky over them.

5 Things I Would Tell My Younger Self

It has been a few years since I first started feeling sick and got my official diagnosis. Looking back at those memories it still feels surreal, and I can't believe how far I've come. I've gained so much knowledge about lupus and met so many lupus warriors through social media in a short time. I'm so grateful for everything that has occurred, and I wish I had a time machine so I could tell my younger self that it is going to be ok, amongst other things.

1. It's not the end of the world

I remember feeling like my life was over. I didn't know how I was going to deal with this diagnosis. It was like issue after issue. I went through the stages of grief. A part of me died; I just didn't know how to cope. But, I know now that my lupus does not define me, and it's not the end of the world. This is just the beginning, and I'm ready to conquer more.

2. It's not your fault

In the beginning, I thought maybe I had done something bad, and this was my punishment. But, I know now that I didn't cause my lupus. It's still a mystery, and there is not one thing that we can pinpoint that was the exact cause. Many factors such as genetics, family history, ultraviolet rays, medications, food, stress, etc., all play a part. It's still a mystery and something I will never figure out, and I am ok with that.

3. You are not a burden

I used to feel so bad that everyone had to take care of me, especially in the beginning when we all didn't know what was happening. They were all so worried, and sometimes it felt like I was extra weight they had to deal with. I felt bad when they had to switch plans or take off work so that they could accompany me to my doctor's appointment or pick up my medicine. But, I know now that my family and friends did all of that because they loved me unconditionally. I was not a burden, and they would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

4. Don't feel guilty for being tired

There were multiple occasions when I had a laundry list of things to do or events that I had to attend but was just too tired to do anything. Sometimes I would feel too guilty for letting the dishes pile up or canceling plans. But lupus fatigue is another level of fatigue. There would be times I would take a nap or wake up, and I was still tired.  Doing daily chores and trying to hang out with my family and friends on some days just exhausted me. But, I know now that it's ok to rest and recharge and not feel guilty about it.

5. Life is not a race

As we age, we see how different everyone's path in life this. This person just got a new job. This person just bought a house. This person just got married. Then I just got lupus. I felt like my life was at a standstill when I got my diagnosis. I didn't know what would happen or when I would hit those significant milestones when I was younger. There were times when I could cry and think about the what-ifs. But, I know now life is not a race. We all will get to where we are meant to be when the time is right.

Lupus really threw a curveball into my life, and even after 5 years, I am still learning and coping with it every day. But, I am really proud of how far I have come. What would you tell your younger self?

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