If you have or been around someone with an autoimmune disease, you’ve probably heard of the Spoon Theory which is a spot on way to describe how people with autoimmune diseases get through the day. Well, I’m here to introduce the Punch Theory.
The winner of a boxing match is the boxer that throws the most punches. The person on the receiving end of that beating, takes a lot of punches, big and small, until one knocks them out. That’s Lupus. People living with Lupus take a lot of punches on a daily basis. On our good days, they are small. On not so great days, they can be big, and we live in fear waiting for the knock out.
There is no cure for Lupus. You go through flare ups and remission but even during times of remission you take small punches. Those punches can range from chronic fatigue, to fevers, inflammation, joint pain, muscle weakness, light and sun sensitivity, and brain fog. Yes folks, those are small punches. During flare ups, the punches become bigger. They range from insomnia, to swollen face, weight gain, vision issues, debilitating fatigue, loosing function of motor skills, cognitive impairment, kidney problems, liver issues, heart problems, depression…the list goes on and on.
We take these punches and we keep moving. After all, we are fighters, it’s just what we do!
Punch 1: Can’t leave the house due to zero energy level and brain fog. Not safe to drive.
Punch 2: Can’t eat anything because even foods we are allowed to eat are causing pain.
Punch 3: Can’t work due to cognitive impairment.
Punch 4: Fever
Punch 5: Gaining 10 pounds in three days.
Punch 6: Throwing up upon waking up is a good way to start the day.
Punch 7: Missing a social event you’ve been looking forward to all week.
Punch 8: Experiencing shortness of breath and chest pain.
Punch 9: Spending all day at the hospital getting tests ran on you.
Punch 10: Depression
Let’s talk about punch 10 because people with autoimmune diseases are twice as likely to experience depression and for 50% of people with autoimmune diseases, that is the knockout. Not being able to leave your house, not being able to work, to do the things you love, to spend time with your friends, being in excruciating pain, and watching people you love walk away from you because they can’t handle what you go through can have a deep impact on your mental health.
If I’m being completely honest, I don’t have a solution for this. I just want to share my experience with you in hopes it helps you and know that you are not alone; I’m here for you if you need someone to talk to.
I’ve had high functioning anxiety and depression since I was in high school. Some days it’s overwhelming and I want to give up but like everything else, happiness is something you have to work on. I often get asked what I do to manage my health which I love sharing but what I keep hidden is what I do to manage my mental health which is actually a huge part of physical health.
Here’s some of what I do:
I read and write in a gratitude journal every morning.
I spend as much time as possible in nature as I always feel my best when the sun hits my skin and feel the dirt underneath my feet grounding my soul.
I’m always looking for new experiences and adventures to embark on.
I try to support others along their journeys as much as I can because I know what it’s like to not have anyone in your corner.
I’ve learned to only depend on myself no matter how sick I might be.
I remove all toxicity from my life (including people).
On the days these tactics don’t work, I keep at it and I try to move with and through my emotions, knowing that it will pass and things will get better.
Did you know one minute of laughter boosts the immune system for 24 hours?! Laugh often and as much as possible even on your not so great days. Things might suck but they won’t suck forever and I promise you, if you find your smile and laugh for even just 30 seconds on days you don’t think you can go on, it’ll make everything seem a little more bearable.