I’m 26. I was diagnosed with Arthritis and Lupus at a very young age. These are autoimmune diseases have a range of symptoms but for me, the main symptom has always been widespread pain.

I can’t remember the last time I woke up without any pain at all, but usually it’s not so bad that I can’t get through the day.

There have been days though that I can’t get up out of bed without help, which can be very hard to ask for. I think if I wasn’t always sick, I may not work as hard as I do.

When I see a challenge, I fear if I choose not to overcome it that the illness has won. Maybe if I was never sick, I would be able to let go more, maybe I wouldn’t work as hard…maybe i wouldn’t be myself.

I think being sick has been a part of me for the better but I still think of what it would be like to have nothing in my way, to wake up and feel no pain. It can be hard for people who have, what we call, “invisible illnesses” because most of the time, I do not look sick.

I am sick and that’s OK. I work through it. I find a way to make as many of my days as good as possible. I try to smile and laugh because that’s the best drug I’ve found so far. Maybe one day I won’t be sick but in the meantime, I make it as good as I can. I won’t let lupus stop me.