It’s been called “a public health crisis at levels comparable to heart disease and cancer.”
But unlike heart disease and cancer…
This illness targets WOMEN.
It’s among the 10 top causes of death for women under the age of 64.
It affects around 50 million Americans, driving up health care costs by over $100 billion each year.
And it’s on the rise.
It affects even super-healthy celebrities like Venus Williams, Lady Gaga, Gigi Hadid, and Selena Gomez.
It’s autoimmune disease.
And if you haven’t heard about it yet, that’s not surprising. Only 13% of Americans can name just one autoimmune disorder.
Chances are, you already know someone struggling with autoimmune.
Autoimmune is an “invisible” condition. You can’t tell by looking at someone that they have it. People with autoimmune often keep their condition a secret, because they worry they’ll be viewed differently if people find out.
Unfortunately, they’re right to be concerned.
Most autoimmune sufferers spend at least 4 years going from doctor to doctor before they receive a diagnosis. Just under half are told that the symptoms are all in their head, they’re making a big deal over nothing, and that they should stop complaining.
Not only do they hear this from the medical profession, but they also hear the same at home.
Their partner and/or family members may accuse them of being lazy, shirking their duties, and making things hard for the rest of the family.
At work, they may hear that they’re not keeping up, they’re taking too many sick days, and there will be consequences unless their performance improves.
Because autoimmune sufferers look normal, everyone assumes they’re normal. Surely someone who eats well, exercises, and looks after herself can’t be sick. Surely, if she IS sick, then she’ll eventually get well.
But that’s not how it works with autoimmune.
Autoimmune is a condition in which the body attacks its own cells as if they were foreign invaders. There are over 100 types, ranging from rheumatoid arthritis to multiple sclerosis.
Autoimmune conditions can be managed, but they can’t be cured. There is no pill that an autoimmune sufferer can pop and feel instant relief. Managing it requires careful juggling of diet, exercise, rest, alternative therapies, and sometimes medication.
Take Venus Williams. She suffers from Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune condition that forced her to drop out of the U.S. Open in 2011.
No one would look at Venus and see a sick woman. But Venus makes sure that’s the case. She has an extensive management plan and works with the best doctors. She doesn’t overextend herself. She’ll never be cured, but she has learned to live with the condition.
Anyone with Lada Gaga’s packed schedule surely couldn’t be sick, either. But Lady Gaga suffers from fibromyalgia, a mysterious autoimmune condition characterized by chronic pain.
Supermodel Gigi Hadid suffers from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease involving the thyroid. Actress and singer Selena Gomez suffers from lupus, for which she underwent chemotherapy.
What these celebrity women have achieved despite their conditions is extraordinary. But don’t be fooled. Most women don’t have the money, doctors, or resources to take care of their health on that level.
Half of autoimmune patients don’t even get treated because of the high cost of care.
Which means that a public health crisis is building.
Autoimmune strikes predominantly women, often in the prime of their lives.
Not only must these women fight to get diagnosed, but medical costs and the need for greater sick leave can have a major impact on their working lives.
Chronic illness affects not just physical health, but mental health as well. Autoimmune is linked with depression. One study found that having an autoimmune disorder increases your risk of a mood disorder by 45%.
Having a chronic illness plays havoc with intimate relationships, too. Three quarters of marriages end in divorce where one spouse is chronically ill. Divorce is much more likely if the sick spouse is the woman, not the man.
As an autoimmune sufferer myself, I believe the most important role we can play in addressing this crisis is to raise awareness. Most people don’t understand what it’s like to live with this condition.
It took me over a decade before I felt comfortable sharing my health struggles with anyone other than a few close friends. I was ashamed of what I was going through. I thought that having this condition made me less of a person.
Now I realize that autoimmune is a teacher, helping me take better care of myself. It’s also taught me to feel greater empathy towards ALL women struggling with limited physical and emotional resources.
Which is why women’s health is a big priority for us at Your Brilliance. It’s hard not having health you can rely on. It makes all the difference in the world to find practical and inexpensive strategies that work.
Look after your one and only beautiful body. It deserves your loving care.