Blog Archive

Monday, July 22, 2013

Are Autoimmune Disorders Eating You Alive?

By Susan Knight

Whenever I hear that women have autoimmune diseases I straight away think, "I wonder if they're having marital problems?"

It's a natural reaction. I suffered with autoimmune diseases my whole married life. They come on gradually, like that story about the frog that is tossed into a pot of tepid water. The burner is turned on and the frog doesn't notice the gradual change in temperature until it's too late and it's cooked.

I was cooked, so to speak. The last marriage counselor I went to told me, very bluntly, that I was going to die. He said either my husband was going to kill me because his verbal abuse would turn into physical abuse, or I would die from the inside out from all the autoimmune diseases I had. Fibromyalgia and lupus were the biggest, followed by allergies that were added to almost on a yearly basis.

What was miraculous to me was, as I escaped my marriage and fled out west, I noticed a decided change in how I felt--even while driving across the country.

An autoimmune disorder occurs when the body's immune system starts attacking itself. For instance, pollen isn't harmful to the body, but people with pollen allergies have immune systems that perceive the pollen to be harmful. The body releases antibodies to destroy the so-called invading substance.

Did you read that right?  Yes. The body starts attacking itself.

This happens often in abuse and sexual abuse cases. It's not enough that we're being abused or molested, but our bodies, which are screaming at us that something is wrong, finally start attacking from the inside. This, in my opinion*, is because we have used up all our resistance in fighting the outward attacker, and now the attack has gone inward, but is misplaced.

The body is saying, "Okay. I give up. I really can't take this anymore." But the abuse keeps coming and there is nothing left with which to fight it. The body knows something is wrong, so it goes berserk fighting anything that comes along that seems foreign.

Some auto-immune disorders include Allergies, Dermatomyositis (type of skin rash), Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, MS, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Celiac Disease-sprue (gluten sensitivity), Fibromyalgia, Type II diabetes, Hypoglycemia. **

Joints, muscles, connective tissue, red blood cells, skin, blood vessels, endocrine glands--these all can be affected. Symptoms include fatigue, fever, rash, hives, malaise (feeling ill in general), muscle pain, joint pain, and many more.

I also believe these auto-immune diseases cause situational depression and even major depressive episodes (what we used to call nervous breakdowns) because we don't feel well and don't know why. Everyone thinks we're hypochondriacs. We're not wearing band-aids, or casts.

The depression is two-fold. It's caused by being ill-treated by an abuser, plus being misunderstood by our friends.* Who wants to be around a downer person? So we put on a happy face to look good.

But a depression discussion will be left for another post.

Until then, examine your life. Is your body screaming at you?

Mine did. It was like a voice within me that was suppressed down in the basement or a dungeon, banging on the door, screaming, "Listen to me! Let me out! You know I'm right!"

But I wouldn't let it out. I wouldn't acknowledge it. I knew, deep, deep down, it was my husband who was causing me to feel like this. But I had to maintain the perfect family facade. I had to save face, look good.

I'm begging you. Please listen to your body. Your psyche, your inner self, knows you and only wants the best for you.

Listen, even though you're scared.  Don't wait thirty-three years like I did. Start to love yourself, and get help, if you need it.

The up side is, I am so much happier with myself. It's still hard to show emotion, though. I had to suppress it for so long. I have to remind myself to smile, or laugh. I am worthy to do those things, even though my abuser made me feel less worthy to show emotion--of any kind.

It's my prayer that my readers will realize they are worthy to be loved, to show emotion, trusting that the love is reciprocated by so many. I know it's hard. I am still trying. It's probably one of the steps I have left to climb. But I will succeed. . . some day.

*This is just my opinion, though I'm sure psychologists could back it up, like my marriage counselor did

No comments: