I have been guilty of self-medicating in the past

Yes, it is true that I have self-medicated on certain prescription drugs many times. When my son's father and I were dating in the 90s, he would call me a drug-store junkie; I would buy things to help me sleep or relieve pain. Little did I know, he was on to something. Currently, I'm on several medications to control my lupus, in addition to certain prescription medications that altered my mood.

Let me explain something to you. When I was first diagnosed with lupus in 2004 (although I had symptoms of lupus starting in 1999), my rheumatologist told me to see a therapist. I didn't understand why but of course I followed doctor's orders. My doctor at that time knew that I would have a need to see one because little did I know that having lupus was going to turn my life upside down. He wanted me to see the therapist to help me cope with my life's changes.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease that has the potential of damaging internal and external organ systems. It's called "The Great Mimicker" because the symptoms you experience makes you think you have one thing when in fact it's another. Lupus is not cancer or AIDS; people with cancer or AIDS have an immune system that is compromised due to a lack of white blood cells which helps our immune system. With lupus, the white blood cells can be affected but the immune system is overactive.

I've had several hospitalizations over the years because lupus attacked my hair, skin, blood, and caused stiffness in my muscles and joints. Thankfully, this year, I only had a few ER visits but no stays. Lupus symptoms or flares may attack at anytime so I'm glad that I know my body or know the triggers that causes flare ups and I act accordingly.

Getting back to self-medicating, having lupus can be very depressing and isolating. I cannot enjoy the summer months like I used to because of the heat and sunlight (which is a no-no to the lupus sufferer), and all the other physical activities that I took for granted. Believe me--I take my lupus meds as directed but when it came to those mood-altering drugs that I was prescribed, it was so easy to take more than the required dose because of the loneliness and boredom I was feeling. Please don't think that this is a cry for help or anything but I just want to share with anyone with a chronic illness who are prescribed meds by their psychiatrist, that it's easy to get caught up in it and to be careful.

Trust me, it's all good on this end; I want the newly diagnosed patient to be aware of the potential addiction of certain prescription medications. Your life will change so you just have to figure out other ways to cope with the boredom or isolation lupus creates. Reading and writing helps me cope and I'm so glad that I'm writing this article to help someone.

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