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Last year, after twelve years off, I decided to go back to college and finish what I started. I am a college senior and am currently taking one online class. This morning I opened up my online class, and listened to my professor’s weekly screencast introducing this week’s lesson and assignments. He started out by asking us if we have ever been lost, and to think of a time when we were physically lost. He went on to describe the feelings and sensation of being lost – feeling fear and panic; not being able to recognize where you are.

As I listened to his words, I could not help but think of my health struggles; both before and after being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. While I may not have been physically lost, I experienced the feelings and sensation of being lost. Before my diagnosis, I felt lost as to not knowing what is wrong with my body, what tests to ask for, how to describe not feeling well, and who to trust to turn for help.

After my Hashimoto’s diagnosis, I felt lost in a whole new way. I did not recognize where I was, or which way to go. I felt panic and fear. I felt overwhelmed with the idea that I was facing a lifetime diagnosis. I could never outrun it. I could never vacation from it. I could never forget it. I could never escape it. I looked around and did not know where I stood. I was still me, yet my diagnosis changed everything. I was lost. It took time and serious effort to find my way. To figure out and accept that it was okay that I found myself somewhere new and unfamiliar. To see my health struggles and my autoimmune disease as an opportunity for learning and growth. An opportunity for me to follow a new path. I found faith that I was experiencing this for a reason, and that I could learn. I could grow stronger mentally. I could grow stronger spiritually. In time, I could grow stronger physically. I could use this experience to bless my family and friends.

I realized that I might feel lost, but I did not have to stay lost. I had the power to choose to move forward. To not stay lost in fear and panic, but to replace the fear and panic with faith and hope. To gather my courage as I embark on this new and unfamiliar path.

“Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you don’t like something, change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”
-Mary Engelbreit

Have you ever felt “lost” in your experience with an autoimmune disease? Please click comment and share – I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences!

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