Staying positive throughout the challenges of chronic illness.

Having a chronic illness can really drain you physically and emotionally. Although physically I am feeling pretty good, it's the mental and emotional aspect that has been sucking the life of me and during these past few weeks, I've been fighting to stay strong and positive throughout it all. Now I know it's not easy, and those who have a medical condition have every right to feel resentful. I've been struggling with depression because of my lupus. I look at myself in the mirror and am dissatisfied because the prednisone has ballooned me from 120 to 150 pounds on my 5'4" frame. Now, I've never been or never will be a size 0 and I have come to terms with that. During my sickest I would maybe fit in a size 2. But my friends and family were so worried, and I was very weak and frail. I was desperate to get healed, and while prednisone is that miracle drug, the side effects wreaked havoc on me. I never felt like any of those "pretty girls" with super thin figures, flawless faces, perfect hair or clothes (especially if they are white). The ones who could easily cruise by life with everyone admiring them...the women wanting to be them, the men wanting to date them (not that that matters to me since I am in love with Cecilio), the employers who would hire them right away (even if a plainer looking person had the same qualifications), the one everyone wanted to be friends with. So, I've always wanted to be and feel beautiful, especially to society. But now I am realizing that beauty is subjective, and while it is more important to feel and look good on the outside, it's more important to truly believe that on the inside, and to have a beautiful heart.

I had my appointment with my rheumatologist today and nephrologist yesterday. Both of them are working to taper my prednisone, which has been on 15 mg since April (down from 80 mg last November!) and the only change they made was increasing my losartan from 25 to 50 mg to help with my blood pressure and the protein in my kidney (which is why I had to go back on prednisone in the first place and why it's been at a standstill). Normally, I would've been so upset and angry. And I was when I visited them the past few times. But this time, I expected it and I learned to accept it. I kept telling myself as I went in the clinic, "No matter what happens, I am gonna get through this and I'm going to show them that I am happy and grateful that they are taking care of me." I still hold on to the hope that I will taper off of prednisone and that I will be back to my normal weight, and I know my doctors are doing everything they can for that to happen. My frustrations were that it wasn't happening as fast as I wanted it to.

I am going through the same situation when it comes with my seizures. I had a seizure in January when I was in the Philippines, and in June. It makes me CRAZY (which is a mild word) because I am not allowed to drive and I have to rely on everyone for transportation. It pains me because I used to be able to drive to school and I could stay as long as I wanted to study, or I could've gone to Starbucks, the store to get supplies, etc. it was those little things that pleasured me and made me feel independent. Now, I feel helpless. Especially when I see my classmates getting jobs and internships and I am not because of transportation issues (my brother in law already drives me around a lot to school, and my mom is very busy). I know my family and Cecilio are able to drive me around and for that I am thankful. I am thankful that I was able to book an appointment with my neurologist on December since I was supposed to follow up on the last seizure within 3-6 months. I hope and pray that she will allow me to drive and sign the DMV papers.

All of this is making me a stronger person and more patient. This week is Invisible Illness Week. So many people like me, although they look fine and may not look disfigured or have a wheelchair or cane, are at war with their bodies everyday. These illnesses include but are not limited to lupus, fibromyalgia, Chron's, diabetes, etc. and it can affect the quality of life physically and emotionally.

It's easy to lament on the old life you used to have and the things you used to have before your illness flared up. But don't let it destroy you. I know I did, and I have days where I just want to disappear. But being on prednisone helped me rediscover my love for makeup. It makes me feel beautiful (although I know I am just as much without it) and my growing passion became just enough to create this blog. I also hope to inspire just one person too, and I think these uncomfortable situations have helped me grow and gain more compassion for others.

I encourage you to stay grounded and know that whatever you are going through, you are not alone, and it won't be forever. And if you ever have on and off hard situations again (like I do), know that you will come out of the refiner's fire.

Alright, I think I said my peace. I actually gotta run to my Spanish class, see ya!

Hannah

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