What Is It Like To Have Lupus?

What Is It Like To Have Lupus?

Living with a chronic condition is never easy; however, there are many that are common enough that explaining them to others is simple. Other chronic conditions that are less common or simply less talked about can be confusing for those who don’t know anything about them. Lupus is one such condition. Lupus affects approximately 5 million people in the world and while that may seem like a large number, it is actually just a small percentage of the 7.7 billion people on the planet. That being said, there is still not much widely known about lupus and how it affects the human body.

What Is Lupus?

Lupus is classified as an autoimmune disease. It causes the body’s immune system to attack the brain, skin, joints, blood cells, lungs, heart, and other organs. There are many autoimmune diseases in the world, Lupus just happens to be one that is harder to diagnose. Unfortunately, there is also no cure for lupus, but some lifestyle changes can improve a person’s quality of life. Steroids and anti-inflammatory medications are also commonly used to help treat the symptoms and side effects of lupus.

Symptoms of Lupus

The symptoms Lupus triggers in the body can vary from person to person. Typically, they are fever, skin rashes, pain in the joints, and fatigue. These symptoms can manifest in small flare-ups or full-blown debilitating attacks. In most cases, they will flare, worsen, and then improve before becoming dormant again. Lupus can strike anyone regardless of age, race, or gender; however, women who are of childbearing age are the most afflicted. In fact, 90% of those diagnosed with lupus are women.

Living With Lupus

Learning to live with lupus is a challenging endeavor. Even being diagnosed correctly can often take several years and many visits to various specialists. Many symptoms are similar to common ailments that can make it hard to pinpoint lupus as the cause. However, once you are diagnosed, it is important to learn how to change your life to accommodate the side effects of the disease. Living with lupus is often much more challenging than living with other types of chronic illnesses.

An active flare-up can cause fatigue that is so pervasive even completing normal tasks like brushing your hair or making a meal seem impossible. Joint stiffness and constant pain are also common side effects of the disease. Even young lupus sufferers will face flare-ups that cause their legs, arms, and even fingers to become too painful to make even the slightest of movements. Skin sensitivity and rashes are also common in those suffering from lupus. Redness and rashes can appear anywhere on the body and even simple fabrics brushing on these areas can cause excruciating discomfort.

One aspect of lupus that is often overlooked is the mental effects the disease carries with it. Often those suffering from lupus will experience episodes of confusion that can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. Depression is another common symptom that is caused by the disease. Flare-ups can cause depression to worsen, which in itself requires vigilant and dedicated care.

What Are Lupus Flare-Ups Like?

Lupus most commonly causes inflammation in the body. While lupus symptoms may vary from person to person, or even from one flare-up to the next, inflammation is a common factor. Lupus has no cure, as a result, it will always be in the body. Lifestyle changes, medication, and meditation can help reduce the severity and frequency of serious side effects. A flare-up is when the symptoms of lupus become markedly worse. These flare-ups can last a few hours or even a few months depending on the person. While general achiness, stiffness, skin irritation, and fatigue may always be present, a flare-up will cause them to become exponentially worse.

Sometimes serious flare-ups can cause organ damage or even allow secondary illnesses or infections to attack the body. Stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, and even physical exertion can trigger a lupus flare-up. Regular seasonal illnesses can also cause a person to have a lupus flare, or for their inactive symptoms to become activated. While most flare-ups can be managed or even avoided with lifestyle changes, sometimes they still occur even without a trigger.

Teaching Others About The Effects of Lupus

The majority of symptoms and side effects caused by lupus are invisible. A person may seem healthy on the outside, but actually, be suffering from serious bouts of pain and fatigue. The lack of visibility makes it hard for others to know when a flare-up is active, or even how a person is feeling when they are sick. It is important to communicate your needs and your health status to those around you, especially when you are having a flare-up. Lupus has a real effect on relationships, work, and even educational commitments. Talking to those around you about the disease will help lighten the burden and help you to live a more fulfilling life.

Lupus ebbs and flows, some of the symptoms are manageable, but some are also life-threatening. When telling those you love about lupus, it is important they understand that it is not contagious and it is nothing like cancer. The best way to describe it is as a chronic autoimmune disease that is incurable with a range of unpredictable symptoms. Arming people with knowledge is the best way to help them understand what you are going through during a flare-up.

Highlighting Health Concerns In The POC Community

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Should mental health be a part of the school syllabus?

Should mental health be a part of the school syllabus?

According to the CDC, 7.1 percent of children in the United States have been diagnosed with anxiety. 3.2% have been diagnosed with depression. Relatedly, suicide is now the 3rd highest cause of death in people aged 10-24. The millions of kids who deal with issues that have been culturally stigmatized as “adult-only” problems probably feel lost. Their parents probably don’t know what to do.

Mental health would be a significant addition to a school syllabus to address this issue. If school is intended to prepare kids for life, how can mental health be considered any less than part of that preparation? The answer to how this should be applied in all schools, however, may be a little more complicated.

What kids are being told in school

When kids are young and in school, they receive a lot of conflicting information. They are told never to bully others far more often than how to mentally deal with being bullied. They are constantly bombarded with the idea that tests scores and numbers define their careers for the rest of their lives. However, they are not told how to mentally cope with a bad grade, or deal with the pressure of being defined by a score out of 100.

Physical health is a mandated aspect of schools in the United States, intended to promote self-responsibility and, hopefully, enjoyment of physical activity for a lifetime. In response to how much information and stress modern kids have to process, curricular mental health, in theory, should be used to promote just as much self-responsibility. Kids should enjoy mental activity for a lifetime as well!

But this depends partly on what mental health in a school syllabus ends up looking like.

Source: Unsplash @Dan Meyers

The Good and bad of teaching mental health

How everyone defines “mental health” is different. This could create programs that present conflicting information, potentially creating even more distance between kids and a healthy mental state. To use the PE example, do you have a lasting relationship with enjoying physical activity due to your experiences in PE? Maybe you do, but maybe you don’t.

However, the good outweighs the bad when it comes to teaching mental health, so long as it is utilized properly. Talking about mental health can help kids release a lot of stress, promoting healthy relationships with their peers. Training teachers on how to deal sensitively with mental health issues can also go a long way. Mindfulness, relaxation, and art should be included aspects of more curriculums, giving students a break from the stress of social media and test scores.

Additionally, these programs should not forget to address the mental health of teachers as well. Valuing teachers as part of this new curriculum could go a long way to improving the stress level of their classrooms.

Conclusion

Due to how the statistics are stacking up, dealing with mental health in schools is hardly even a question anymore – it’s a necessity. The way it is handled, however, relies on how we teach mindfulness, how open we are to unique mental health situations, and how the programs are implemented.

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Racism and Mental Health In The Black Community

Racism and Mental Health In The Black Community

Racism has always been an important topic in the black community, and in recent years the spotlight has brought an increased awareness of the issue to the nation as a whole. Mental health is also an important topic, but one that is not often admitted or addressed in communities of color. One aspect of racism that many healthcare providers are starting to point out is the emotional and mental side effects of systemic racism on people of color. Although Clinicians of Color have been speaking on this topic for years, it is only recently that non-POC experts started paying attention.

Source: https://www.statnews.com/2020/06/09/systemic-racism-black-health-disparities/

The Effects of Racism on Mental Health

People of color, especially those in the African American community have completely different life experiences than other races. As a whole, black lives have been marginalized since before the formation of the country, and have always been viewed as “less than” in just about every aspect of life. Bigotry, oppression, fear, and lack of proper access have created a generational mental health burden that is unique to the black community. In addition, the usual mental health concerns and triggers that affect society as a whole are also present. Living in a society where racism is a normal part of life causes mental trauma that is not fully understood. These traumas directly translate to an increase in mental illness which should be taken seriously, but is often overlooked.

Source: https://www.alexandriava.gov/dchs/adultservices/default.aspx?id=116118

Trauma & Mental Health In The Black Community

In the majority of mental health conditions that exist, the most common reason is past trauma. This can be as simple as a difficult childhood to a traumatic event. However, until recently racism and bigotry were not viewed as traumas that could lead to various mental health problems. Racial trauma that is obvious is very much a concern, however, the subtle and repeated traumas that black people experience on a daily basis are even more harmful.

Being a target of suspicion or being avoided due to fear and ignorance plays on the psyche in a myriad of ways. The systematic denial of services, loans and even proper medical care breeds inherent distrust that can seldom be remedied. The constant fear of arrest and incarceration is an ongoing trauma that is further exacerbated by wholesale racial profiling.

Source: https://dworakpeck.usc.edu/news/why-mental-health-care-stigmatized-black-communities

The Effects of Racism Against African Americans Seeking Mental Health Services

The black community has a strong distrust of doctors and psychiatrists, all with good reason. Aside from the fact that the black community has long been used as an unauthorized testing ground for all manner of treatments, many doctors overlook basic problems in lieu of giving severe diagnoses. For example, the percentage of people of color who suffer from schizophrenia is on par with that of whites; however, clinicians tend to focus more on psychotic symptoms when dealing with a black person. As a result, major depression, bipolar disorder, and other mental health concerns are overlooked in favor of a schizophrenia diagnosis. 

As a whole, it has been proven that people of color are given a schizophrenia diagnosis at a much higher rate than other races, even when other mood conditions are present. Of course, this leads to the patient being overmedicated and their actual problem left undiagnosed and unaddressed. What’s worse, black children and black teenagers who are suffering from various mental health disorders are referred into the juvenile justice system due to behavior instead of being referred for mental health services.

Source: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/10/23/racism-fuels-poor-mental-health-outcomes-black-students

The POC Community & Avoidance of Mental Health Concerns

Aside from being denied care or given inaccurate treatments, there is a rather large stigma in the black community regarding the need for mental health care. The general distrust of the medical field and the constant burden of racism has led to a generational avoidance of mental health services as a whole. If you suggest a black person visit a therapist, most will deny the need or state that such help is not effective. The fact that there are so few mental health professionals of color further limits the desire or the ability of those in the black community to seek help when needed.

How Racism Affects Individual Mental Health

Constantly being bombarded with outward and systematic racism leads to a myriad of mental health issues. Often this turns to anger and rage when there is no outlet or help is available. The most common condition caused by racism is depression, and in many cases, racial trauma actually results in PTSD. Increase racial stress causes problems not only with mental health, but also one’s physical health. Experiencing and observing racism both result in increased stress, high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. Unfortunately, racism and discrimination occur almost on a daily basis, this sustained pressure leads to often permanent changes in the brain due to sustained production of stress hormones.

Where Do We Go From Here?

Mainstream clinicians accepting that racism has a very real and tangible effect on mental health is the first step on a long path to health. Now that more medical professionals are aware of how racism can affect the mind and body, those seeking help from the black community have a better chance at receiving a proper diagnosis and treatment for their conditions. Convincing the POC community to actually seek help will take time, but knowing that there is a listening ear is a good place to start. 

Paying Attention To Your Health For The Future

Here at The Narrative Matters, we are dedicated to speaking about topics that matter to you and to the culture. We pride ourselves in partnering with Content Publishers to bring topics and areas of interest that impact our readers to the forefront. If you are interested in growing your audience with content that matters, you can find out more here. We cover a range of genres from pop culture, lifestyle, and emerging trends to health, politics, education, and more.

10 Mind-Blowing Facts About Mental Health

10 Mind-Blowing Facts About Mental Health

Source: Unsplash @Anthony Tran

Mental health should be literally on everyone’s mind. Yet, it often draws the short straw against the more obvious allures of physical health. During the pandemic, millions of people have become afflicted with worsening mental health. That means these 10 mind-blowing facts are now more than just a curious little thing you clicked on. They’re essential snippets of a changing world!

1. How many people have mental disorders?

Let’s start with the big one. Nearly 52 million Americans suffer from some degree of mental disorder. While not all of these are crippling, they represent the “pandemic” of mental health deficiency that should make the care and keeping of our brains just as important as our bodies.

2. The unknown 60%

Nearly 60% of those millions of people haven’t received any treatment for their mental disorders. This is due to stigmas about seeking help, the individuals’ inability to admit they need it, and a hundred other factors.

3. Why do doctors say, “Do no harm?”

For centuries, doctors believed that mental disorders had religious origins. The physician Hippocrates created the mantra, “Do no harm,” in part to communicate that someone afflicted with a mental illness needed help. It’s the beginning of all psychology!

4.The notion of female “hysteria”

Did you know that as late as the Victorian Era, women suffering from symptoms of menopause, fatigue, post-partum depression, and other female health issues were often classified as “hysterical?” The result of the diagnosis was often institutionalization, in places where they had no recourse and even fewer rights.

Source: Unsplash @fairytailphotography

5. Supplements can help

Let’s get off the negatives of history. Right this minute, you could be missing out on mind-blowing mental health opportunities, such as those presented by folic acid. Found in many leafy greens, citrus, beans, and as a standalone supplement, folic acid can boost symptom relief, especially for women, for anyone on antidepressants.

6. Speaking of herbs …

Did you know that saffron, delicious in its own right, has mental health benefits? Studies have shown that it has effects comparable to prescription medication when it comes to fighting depression in adults.

7. Suicide

Suicide is not a rare occurrence. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, it’s the 2nd leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34. This is why it’s so important to learn the signs of suicidal thoughts and get help for yourself or others before it’s too late.

8. Learn one lesson from feng shui

Feng shui isn’t for everyone, but it has one big lesson for even the average person: get rid of clutter. Did you know that even if the clutter isn’t in your way, just having it around (whether it’s clothes, papers, plates, etc.) can cause your brain undue stress? Even if you don’t know it, you’re thinking about that mess.

Source: Unsplash @edesignisms

9. Flossing for mental health?

Your dentist tells you to floss, but did you know that a psychiatrist might tell you as well? This is because habits – doing the same thing every day – actually encourage mental well-being. Something as simple as flossing or going to bed at a similar time every day can promote a healthier mind.

10. Trust your gut

Did you know that your gut has its own nervous system? Its neurons control almost our entire immune system. This means that when your gut is out of whack, mental health is soon to tumble down after it. Add probiotics such as those in Greek yogurt and kefir to stay ahead of your mental (gut) health.

The Takeaway

These mental health facts only scratch the surface of how to stay aware of mental health issues in the world and in ourselves. Each month we curate and present subjects and topics that matter to you, in the hope that they can be used to improve wellbeing, both for your mind and your life.

We work with Content Publishers in each of the major areas that impact our readers. Find out more about how you as a content publisher can benefit and grow your audience with curated content. From Lifestyle to Entertainment to Business and Politics, Narrative Matters showcases the content from the top minds and authors in their generation.