While the most recent statistics tell us that autoimmune disease affects at least 23.5 million Americans, research indicates that the numbers have been growing steadily for years. The unifying link between these 80-100 diseases is the immune system’s inability to differentiate between self and non-self, resulting in systemic or organ-specific attack.
No one case of autoimmunity is alike, as symptoms vary widely even within a particular disease, such as celiac, lupus, or ulcerative colitis. On top of this, there are many individuals with autoimmune-like symptoms who are unable to secure a diagnosis.
Each one of these stories serves as a window into the complexities of living with chronic illness. Coping is a daily challenge, and it is common for people to feel unseen and unheard both in their social lives and in the medical world.
It is our hope for these stories to cushion the loneliness often felt by autoimmune patients, and to give others valuable insight into what their friends or family members may be going through.