I had an autoimmune condition. Keyword: "had." I had acute (pediatric) Idiopathic Thrombocytopenia (ITP), and luckily, I was able to recover without any medication. Essentially, ITP is an autoimmune condition i in which the body's own immune system destroys platelet cells. Platelets are essential for blood clotting, so having lower platelet levels meant I bled really easily. Cases of acute (pediatric) ITP occur spontaneously and can usually recover within a few weeks to a few months — many times without the need for medication. Unfortunately, many people with chronic (adult) ITP and other autoimmune conditions have their conditions for life.
The experience of having ITP gave me a taste of what it's like for others with autoimmune diseases, and it has made a more compassionate person who is able to sympathize what they're experiencing. So, these are the two main things I learned from my bout of ITP.
First and foremost, don't doubt someone with an autoimmune condition.
If someone has come forward to you and tells you about his or her autoimmune condition, he or she obviously trusts you enough as a friend to let you know his or her intimate medical information. What would be inappropriate would be to start questioning about the "supposed" medical condition. It may not always be a visible condition, but that doesn't mean that it's not real. And just because someone doesn't talk about doesn't mean he or she is any better than someone who does openly talk about it. It's fine to ask questions about the disorder, but the person is going through a difficult time and needs your support and compassion, not your doubt.
And second, we are NOT all the same.
An autoimmune condition is an umbrella term for any disease that's caused by the body's own immune system. There are hundreds of autoimmune conditions that are so different, and even within the same disorder, there are so many variations.
Take me as an example. I had the symptoms of ITP, including petechiae, bleeding of the gums and nose and fatigue. Thankfully, I was fortunate enough that my platelet level wasn't low enough to require treatments like immunosuppressants or corticosteroids. In fact, my only direction from the doctor was to be careful because I bleed and bruise easily, and I only had to monitor the symptoms for anything that could be indicative of a more severe condition.
But someone who has the same condition as me might have a completely different experience. He or she may need to be hospitalized for internal bleeding, and maybe this person requires platelet transfusions. So just because someone says they have an autoimmune condition doesn't mean we can assume this person is the same as someone else with the same thing.