Finding My Strength Through Struggle

This month I’m going to veer away from our normal newsletters to discuss something personally important to me: Lupus. May 10th marks World Lupus Day, a day on which we focus attention on the 1 in 1000 people suffering from the disease on a daily basis. I am one of those people.

I was diagnosed with Lupus SLE in 1985 following the birth of my second son. At the time it was hard to fathom the wreckage going on inside my body. Suddenly, within days of my son’s birth, the vibrant, active, capable me seemed to disappear, leaving a new, unrecognizable me in its place. I felt trapped by overwhelming fatigue and gut-wrenching joint pain but more than that I felt alone and depressed. At that time research was still in its infancy and the medical community was just beginning to uncover the complex conditions surrounding the disease. Now, 33 years later, thanks to research, public advocacy, blogs and more and more people sharing their stories, Lupus is better understood. 

That being said, we still have a long way to go. There is no cure and people with Lupus live with daily struggles across a broad spectrum. Furthermore, the disease is often difficult to identify and even harder to treat. And, even more challenging is the fact that from the outside you appear healthy, despite the fact that inside you are quite broken. Although my experience with Lupus has been a challenge, it’s also been an opportunity. It opened me up to the world of mindfulness, it’s taught me the power of connection and it’s allowed me to be of service by sharing my story with others. 

In honor of World Lupus Day, here are some of my personal insights!

Insight #1 - Even in my crappy, painful days, I work hard not to let the disease define me.


Insight #2 - Though I may wish my health situation were different, I try to cultivate an “attitude of gratitude” for the courage and resilience that has emerged along my journey.

Insight #3 - I can choose to focus on life’s blessings and not on the obstacles in my path.

Insight #4 - I allow myself to both grieve the ‘Theo’ that I lost, and celebrate the ‘Warrior’ I’ve discovered.

Insight #5 - Though I may not always like ‘my story’, I celebrate the fact that I have a story to share and that in doing so someone else may find some reprieve.

 

By Theo Koffler, speaker, author and founder of Mindfulness Without Borders – a charitable organization that facilitates programs and workshops to strengthen social and emotional intelligence and secular mindfulness in youth and the adults that surround them.