Everybody Has SOMETHING! I’m Sharing my SOMETHING With You.

Empty Nest Blessed by Suzy Mighell
woman wearing striped shirt standing in front of white doors

By the time you hit 50, I can guarantee one thing. You’ve got something. Or possibly several somethings. 🙂 You’ve got something you deal with every day. It’s become a part of you. But it’s something you have. It doesn’t have you.

Your something reminds you that you’re human; that you’re fragile; that you need help from others. It keeps you humble. But it doesn’t own you.

What’s your something? Today I’m sharing mine, telling you how I manage it, and why I’m actually thankful for it.

woman wearing striped shirt standing in front of white doors

My Something

What I Have

I have lupus (aka systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE). It’s a systemic auto-immune disease. An auto-immune disease is a disease in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy cells (inflammation), and systemic disease affects the entire body. There are over 100 auto-immune diseases! Other common ones include rheumatoid arthritis, celiac disease, Sjögren’s syndrome, multiple sclerosis, Raynaud’s syndrome, type 1 diabetes, and alopecia. (Click here for a full list.)

Although no one in my family of origin has lupus (or any other diagnosed auto-immune disease), it has genetic components. I wasn’t diagnosed until I was 44 years old, but I exhibited symptoms throughout my younger years. Those symptoms included sun sensitivity (a prickly rash with exposure), fatigue and headaches. When I was 44, I developed swelling in both hands and wrists at the same time, which initially led me to the doctor. Since many of the symptoms of lupus can easily be explained away or point to other issues, the average person visits five doctors before being diagnosed! (I went to four.) Although there are markers in the blood that can point to lupus, there isn’t a single blood test that specifically diagnoses it.

If you know anything about auto-immune diseases, you know that they tend to run in packs! Since I was diagnosed with lupus seven years ago, I’ve also been diagnosed with celiac disease, and I show symptoms of Raynaud’s disease and Sjögren’s syndrome. Except for celiac disease (which is an all-or-nothing thing), I’m thankful that each of my diseases/syndromes are on the milder ends of the spectrum.

Lupus is the auto-immune disease that I deal with the most (along with celiac, of course, which affects everything I eat or don’t eat, as the case may be!). Although it’s somewhat unpredictable, it does have three specific triggers that can cause it to flare: sun, sleep, and stress.

What it Means

Just like everyone who has something, I mostly deal with it privately. Here’s what life with my something looks like on a day-to-day basis:

  • SunscreenI wear sunscreen every single day on all exposed skin. Last year, Consumer Reports Institute declared La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk the number one most effective sunscreen in their testing, so that’s what I use. I use it even if I’m going to be home the entire day because even the indirect sun exposure I get through our windows can affect my lupus.
  • Sleep – Getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night is critical to my health, so I prioritize it. I take a 30-minute nap every day sometime between 1-2 p.m., which helps me manage my fatigue and have the energy I need for the latter part of the day.
  • Stress – I haven’t written specifically on stress management (Note to self: need to do that!), but I find that exercise, eating right, taking time to do the things I love with the people I love, and having a job that I adore all help me manage my stress.
  • Wellness – Since auto-immune diseases attack the body’s healthy cells, just like most people with them, I take immune-lowering medication. That means my natural immunity (which is over-active because of my disease) are being artificially lowered, leaving me more vulnerable than the average person to everything from colds to cancer. So it’s important for me to stay well and not get sick, as the risk of secondary infection is much higher.

Now you know the full story. As I’ve shared before, it’s taken me 3½ years to get to the point where I’m comfortable telling you all about my something. No one wants to have a disease with a name and its own non-profit (!), mostly because when people find out about it, you somehow become synonymous with your disease in their minds. Oh, they can’t help it, and I don’t blame them! It’s unconscious, and I get it. I unconsciously do it to other people too!

I have lupus, but lupus doesn’t have me. It’s something that I have, but it’s not who I am. It is not my identity. But it is my something, and I own it.

woman wearing striped shirt standing in front of white doors

My Non-Somethings

Oddly, I’m thankful for my something. Why? It’s made me more empathetic toward others. It’s made me more patient. It’s made me realize how much I need my faith.

My something has made me so thankful for the things I do have.

I may have lupus, but I also have:

But life is not a ledger.

You don’t line up your something(s) on one side of the page and your non-somethings on the other side and see how you feel.

But you can make the decision not to let your something become your identity.

You can choose to live with gratitude, joy, and love. You can choose to focus on the blessings in your life.

woman wearing striped shirt standing in front of white doors

What’s Your Something?

I know you have something. It’s okay. You don’t have to share it. I didn’t share my something with you for a really long time. Just know that I know you have one—or maybe more than one. Know that I know that it’s not who you are. It’s not your identity.

Some of us need to seek medical or emotional support or help to deal with our something. That’s cool. (I have a whole fleet of MDs!) Some of us like to keep our something private and just share it with a few people in our lives. I get that too. Some of us deal with our something by going public in a big way—volunteering for a non-profit or working to educate others about our something. If that’s your deal, then go for it!

woman wearing striped shirt standing in front of white doors

Everybody Has Something

Just because you can’t see other people’s something doesn’t mean they don’t have one. People are often surprised when I tell them that I have lupus because they think I’m super healthy and I have a lot of energy! I think they feel like a something like mine should be visible in some way! The fact of the matter is: I have energy because I manage my something.

The truth is: some people have a visible something, but lots of people don’t.

That’s why it’s so important to show kindness and compassion to others and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Because everybody has something.

woman wearing striped shirt standing in front of white doors

I hope this post was an encouragement to you. xoxo

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Suzy Mighell

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24 Comments

  1. Excellent post, Suzy! You made so many good points and reminders that we all need to hear. And, I am glad you included your faith in part of why you are thankful for it b/c it relates to how you deal with it. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Martha,
      Thank you for your kind comment! My faith is the defining thing in my life. It is the very essence of who I am! The Lord has really used my SOMETHING to remind me how much I need Him! His strength is made perfect in our weakness! (2 Cor. 12:8-10)
      Happy Monday to you, and thanks again for reading and commenting! xoxo Suzy

  2. Thank you for this post. I feel that autoimmune diseases are in large part I acknowledged even though they are so common. My middle daughter was diagnosed at 5 yrs old with JRA so has life long Rhemetoid Arthritis, I wasn’t diagnosed until 40 with MCTD (mixed connective tissue disease) , and unfortunately my baby girl who is 19 was diagnosed with Sjorens Syndrome at 16 and Luous at 18. We are all active, take our DMARD medication, work and youngest is almost done with her second year in college (NAU-AZ). God is our strength, our hope and the one who guides us in the self care that keeps us well. Autoimmune diseases can make you feel alone in a never ending battle. Thank you for sharing and bringing some awareness and encouragement for those of us who fight this fight daily. I will be passing on your encouraging post to both of my daughters.
    God Bless,
    Darlene

    1. Darlene,
      Aw, thank you. I am so sorry to hear that it is a family-wide struggle for you all! My daughter has lupus and celiac too- just like me. Sometimes I struggle, knowing that I “gave” it to her, as these things are genetic. But I remember that the Lord has a purpose in our struggles and that helps! Having SOMETHING is certainly character-building, right? Thanks for sharing your SOMETHING with me. Big hugs to you, Darlene! xoxo Suzy

  3. This was very encouraging. I too have a something but it will remain private. But I’ve learned its not my identity, I don’t have to deal with it alone; God is with me each step of the way providing the necessary wisdom and everything else I need.

    Thanks for this encouragement.

  4. Hi Suzy!
    Great post! Thanks for being real with us! I appreciate you and am thankful to the LORD for your virtual friendship!
    Sending hugs!

  5. Just what I needed to read today. I have six autoimmune diseases first I was in a severe car accident in 94 ended up having a brain injury by the brain stem and pituitary gland. So I’ve had chronic pain and fibromyalgia and depression 24 yrs after my dad’s passing in dec 2013 I was diagnosed with being celiac and than right after that both thyroid disorders my mom passed away in oct 2017 after she fought advanced stage four pancreatic cancer. She was the strength of our family. When she got sick I told her it was ok to let go and let me and her siblings take care of here and that’s what we did in her home. In April last yr my dr suspected that I might have adrenal fatigue or Addison’s disease. and last month I was diagnosed with Addison’s disease and thought ok I can be just as positive as all the others it will be ok. I saw my dr friday and we saw thru my last month symptoms that I am in Addison’s crisis and put on prednisone to hopefully get it under control. I’m extremely grateful for my family both sides we have always been very close also grateful for my kids grandkids and friends.

    1. Carol,
      Wow. You have really had a time of it. I am so sorry to hear of all your struggles. You will be in my thoughts and prayers, sweet girl. Keep your grateful heart in the midst of it! It’s so precious. xoxo Suzy

  6. Hi Suzy,

    What a brave and inspiring post! You’re so right that everyone has a “something,” and the somethings often increase as we get older. I think the ways you take care of yourself to stay on top of your physical health are great general goals for all of us, no matter what we’re dealing with.

    Thanks for sharing your something … it always helps to know we’re not alone in battling the harder parts of life.

    Blessings,
    Lauren

    1. Lauren,
      Thanks so much for your kind and encouraging comment! I want everyone to know that they’re not alone! We’re all dealing with SOMETHING, no matter what it looks like from the outside! I so appreciate you reading and commenting! xoxo Suzy

  7. Suzy,
    Yes, everyone has something! Thank you for being so brave and sharing what your “something” is. You are an inspiration!
    Carol

    1. Carol,
      You are such a blessing to me! Thank you for those kind words! You KNOW how long it’s taken me to get the courage up to share the whole deal. Thanks for being such a sweet friend. I hope wedding planning is going well! xoxo Suzy

  8. Thank you for sharing your something. I also have lupus, notice I did not say suffer from lupus. My story is almost identical to yours, being diagnosed at an older age (I was 43), showing symptoms long before I was diagnosed, visiting multiple doctors including a psychiatrist before they put a label to what was happening to my body. . It is not an easy disease to live with, my symptoms vary depending on the weather, my stress level, and the amount of sleep I get. Everybody has “something,” that’s why it is so important to treat each person with dignity and compassion.

    1. Beverley,
      We do have a lot in common! Our stories are so similar! I love what you said about treating others with dignity and compassion! Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. So precious of you! Thanks for reading Empty Nest Blessed and for leaving me a comment as well! xoxo Suzy

  9. Great post my friend. I have defiantly struggled with some health issues . It would take a while to say , but I have great compassion in that area for sure.

    1. Kay
      Thanks so much for sharing! I am so sorry to hear of your struggles. Truly, everybody does have something! It was so kind of you to take a second to encourage me by leaving a comment. Thank you so much! xoxo Suzy

  10. Suzy
    That was courageously written! I love that perspective and know it will help me in relating to others and looking at life differently. May we all manage our somethings with the Lord’s gracious and faithful help and wisdom.

    1. Wendy,
      Thanks so much for your sweet encouragement! You, of all people, know how long (and why) I waited to write this post! I’m so grateful to have you in my life! xoxo Suzy

  11. Amen! To you Suzy for sharing this post. You are absolutely correct in that everyone has Something!

  12. Suzy, thank you so much for sharing “your something”! I am so sorry you have to go through all this but there is a positive in suffering, if you will. I am doing a Bible study entitled, “What Matters Most” , by Karen Ehman on Phillipians and Paul’s experience and JOY in suffering! Yesterday, one of our members shared about her suffering and boy was it suffering–Luekemia. She is healed by the grace of God!!!! Through her illness and treatment, she said she advanced in the gospel and she is giving others courage and strength to go on! My prayers are with you as you live through this illness and then some! Hugs and love,
    Paula K.
    Spring, Texas

    1. Paula,
      Thanks so much for your kind comment! I will look into that Bible study book! It might be a good one for the summer when my regular study at church is on break. Thanks for the rec! I do find JOY in the suffering. It aligns me with Christ, and that is a privilege and an honor! So happy to hear that your friend was healed. Hugs to you, sweet Paula! xoxo Suzy

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