As a Functional Medicine practitioner, people show up in my office every day who suffer invisibly.
You’ll see them at the grocery, at church, at work, at the gym – and maybe even in your own mirror.
You look fine, yet you are struggling inside with fatigue, pain, digestive problems, memory issues, skin issues, or a number of other health problems that are common among autoimmune conditions.
The problem is, you look fine. It’s hard for family members, co-workers, or friends to understand what you are going through.
They aren’t aware that you’re at work but wishing you could go take a nap in your car, or you’re frantic for the nearest bathroom, or you can barely use your hands on the keyboard, or you’re in agony sitting at your desk all day because of the painful boil on your butt – all common scenarios with various autoimmune conditions.
To “healthy” people, illness looks like this: you have the flu for a week and then you’re back to normal. Or, if you’re really sick, then you’re in the hospital.
They don’t get the in-between world you live in. They can be supportive for a while, but even support from the most well-intentioned people can wear thin with time.
Why can’t you do the things you used to? Why can’t you clean the house, be at this meeting, go out to dinner, play with the kids? Are you sure you aren’t just being lazy? You’re not the person you used to be.
This creates a lot of stress for you. You probably feel alone, and maybe even crazy. How do you explain this to healthy people who are being inconvenienced by your bad days? How do you deal with people who tease you when you try something new to see if you feel better, like taking supplements or avoiding gluten?
This is what it’s like for most people living with autoimmune conditions. Ironically, there are more of us than people with heart disease and cancer combined. People just aren’t aware of it because it isn’t discussed.
I get all of this because I’ve lived this myself, and I see hundreds of patients every year who are quietly suffering— trying to find a way to feel better. Luckily, it is possible to get better. So the question is, how long do you go on like this before you get help? The solutions are out there. Don’t wait until you fall apart or are bed-ridden to go find them.
I consult with people with chronic health struggles and help them get their lives back. If you live in the U. S. and can Skype, you can meet with me. Call my office or go to my website to set up your initial 30-minute appointment.
Photo: Charline Tetiyevsky