How My Autoimmune Illness Made Me Love Myself

Jason Henry
4 min readMar 8, 2019

I’ve been an advocate for people to love themselves for years now and yet I’ve had a concern levied at me by a couple of people on a number of occasions:

“You’re too hard on yourself.”

I heard them loud and clear, but I would always say to myself, “So what? It’s because I have high standards for myself that I’m able to learn so fast. I wish people were harder on themselves.” To be honest, I believed that some of the people who said this to me could actually use a dose of being hard on themselves.

And maybe I have a point, but unfortunately, I was unknowingly putting myself through an emotional and physical ringer.

I suffer from hives but I’ve had it under control for many years, until this year. All of a sudden, it’s back and a bit more aggressive. Typically, what I would do is just allow myself to feel the itch and it would go away. If I resist it, it will persist.

So when it came back with a vengeance, I just let myself feel itchy. But it wouldn’t go away. It felt like ants were biting me inside of my skin and I started to get pretty scared because my solution was no longer working.

If you know anything about autoimmune disorders, people will tell you one of two things. Either take an antihistamine or to watch what you eat, especially gluten.

I had taken the antihistamine route years ago and was increasing my dosage steadily. I knew what that meant. The day would come when I would scarf down a box of tablets for my skin to go back to normal. That wasn’t a solution. As for the diet, I tried, but I could tell that gluten was just exacerbating the issue; it wasn’t the cause. I’d be eating properly and stress could trigger an itch.

So I tried to figure out what the emotional or psychological cause of my hives were. And that search has seemingly borne good fruit.

“As with many life-altering events, an autoimmune illness is almost guaranteed to cause you to re-evaluate your priorities.” ― Joan Friedlander

It seems like my friends were right about me, after all. One in particular phrased it this way:

“You don’t ever defend yourself.”

Jason Henry

Former Edu. Psychologist | Current Writer | Constant Learner | “By your stumbling the world is perfected.”