Empathy is a gift of immeasurable valuable. Lupus gives me so much more compassion and understanding that sometimes I can't believe it myself. Of course, there is a flip side. Empathy can ironically make me angry and resentful toward those who don't feel compassion for others, if I let it. However, for the most part, it's a positive gift. Because when you can truly feel what others are going through, it's easier to be kind. In fact, compassion is usually part of the natural disease progression for those of us with chronic illness.
Lupus forces me to think more deeply about what others are enduring. For instance, now, when I see a person in a wheelchair, I think about the fact that not only do they have to rely on that chair, they are likely in a great deal of pain as well. I wonder about their other limitations and how they are dealing with them. Maybe someone has to bathe and dress them. Maybe they're depressed due to a lack of independence. Maybe, like me, they're sick of being sick and tired of being tired. Having Lupus makes me determined to help others who have similar struggles.
And it's not just me. Of all the people that I count as friends, I find those with chronic illness or other health concerns to be the most empathetic toward me as well. No matter how much pain they are in, they never fail to inquire about how I am. They never forget that while they are in pain, there are others who are suffering just as much.
Yes, empathy may be a gift that comes with a high price tag. Still, I find it worth the trade off. Thank-you Lupus for allowing me to empathize with the suffering of others and for reminding me that I'm not alone so that I can ease the pain for them in return.