Normal-looking girl with an ostensibly normal cold (and abnormally adorable cat).
But don’t be fooled. This cold isn’t going to be cured by a day’s rest and a bowl of chicken noodle soup.
If you don’t already know, I struggle with autoimmune diseases — namely Crohn’s Disease and psoriasis. What is an autoimmune disease? It’s when your immune system attacks the healthy cells in your body. Your body is basically overworking to fend off the illness you have. Simply put, your body attacks itself. Yeah. You are literally your worst enemy.
With both Crohn’s and psoriasis, it’s very common to be treated with something called an “immunosuppressant.” These drugs — like Remicade, Humira and Stelara — further suppress your immune system in order to counteract that over-attacking your body is doing with the autoimmune disease.
As you can imagine, this means your body has a far more difficult time fighting off any other form of disease. Colds can turn into pneumonia. The flu can put you in the hospital. I’ve had both of these things happen multiple times.
This past week, I caught a cold from someone. That cold rapidly turned into a horrible sinus infection that triggered Crohn’s symptoms and awful migraines.
My lovely friend, Dena (a fellow spoonie), asked me “Don’t you think we [people with autoimmune diseases] should be exempt from all other disease?”
Yes, Dena. I do think that.
TLDR; A cold (for those with autoimmune diseases) is not just a cold.
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t one of those kids that struggled with their skin during puberty (Don’t roll your eyes and stop reading, because my skin didn’t stay perfect).
So, when I got into my 20s and my hormones started to change, I really didn’t know what to do with this new issue of breakouts. Turns out, I was doing a lot of damage to my skin. I was over-exfoliating with physical exfoliants, essentially scraping my skin and causing it to produce more oil to make up for all the moisture I was taking away. BAD.
To make matters worse, the psoriasis that had previously decorated my elbows and knees, decided to make it’s way to my nose and around both of my eyes. Yeah, I had psoriasis-goggles. Not the cutest. When you’re dealing with health issues, the last thing you want is for them to be present where everyone can see them. And, because I struggle with autoimmune diseases, my skin has a difficult time healing, and loves to scar.
So to recap, I was dealing with:
- hormonal breakouts
- patchy psoriasis around my eyes and nose
- scarring from acne
Fast forward a year, and I have the best skin I’ve ever had. I’m not a doctor or dermatologist, but this is what I do every morning and it’s made a giant difference. Plus, my process has been confirmed by the babes at ITG so it’s got to be good.
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Glossier recently came out with the mother-of-all campaigns for their new oil wash and lotion — Body Hero. It includes women of all shapes and colors and truly shows the beauty in every body.
My fellow Glossier reps kicked off the launch with their own stunning and unique photos. They shared their insecurities and perfect imperfections in personalized posts. I’ve really never been more grateful to be a part of such a cool company.
I wanted to support it with my own badass photo and shimmery body. But to be honest, I’ve been fighting my body everyday — especially lately. I certainly have not felt like a hero. It’s hard to feel like a hero when you struggle to get out of bed every morning. When you can’t hold your partner’s hand because it hurts too much. When every fiber in your body aches around your brittle bones and hurting insides.
So I locked myself in my bedroom, accompanied by my cat and partner, and I had myself a good cry.
I realized that because my body fights everyday, I am a Body Hero. I have dealt with harsh criticism from myself since I was little and learned that I would always be different. I’ve looked at stretch marks and IV bruises and patches of psoriasis with such disgust. But our bodies don’t deserve that! My stretch marks are records of years of chronic illness that no doctor will ever have on file. My IV bruises are proof that I can tolerate a sting. And my psoriasis is confirmation that yes, my body and spirit can handle more.
So although you may feel weaker than maybe you might’ve been without an autoimmune disease, you have so much strength to be able to get yourself up and take on the day. Feed off of that tenacity and know you’re a hero. Each body, every body is a #BodyHero.