Part III: National Volunteer WeekBy Carey Angel II, Volunteer Services Volunteer
Consider yourself blessed if you can evolve to a place where others truly matter. I don’t mean the kind of consideration where you expect something, however small, in return. You may not even realize your true motives. Not everyone gets there. I would imagine most fall short; after all we are brought up to think of self- first. It may not even be your own doing. For me it took a life event, the diagnosis of Lupus, to change my life.
Lupus is one of many disorders of the immune system. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system turns against parts of the body it is designed to protect. Who gets lupus and why? Why me? Why not me?
At present, there is no cure for Lupus. However, it can be effectively treated with medication and most people with the disease lead active, healthy lives. Lupus is characterized by periods of illness, called flares, and periods of wellness, or remission. Understanding how to prevent flares and how to treat them when they do occur helps people with lupus maintain better health. Either way, it has continued to impact my life having a profound effect on my mental and emotional well-being.
With these types of diseases, you're likely to have felt emotions such as grief, fear, anxiety, and depression. I even had to give up driving because of possible seizures. As I continue to work toward reentering the work force what I did to heal was to volunteer with both the American Red Cross in the National Capital Region and the Lupus Foundation of America.
Volunteering helped me cope with uncertainty about the future in general. Having a chronic, unpredictable disease can cause uncertainty and anxiety. You may wonder how the disease will progress, whether you'll be able to stay independent, or how you will manage physically and financially. Having a chronic illness like Lupus may make it difficult to take care of your home or family the way you would like to or feel you should. Volunteering proves self-worth. It shows that there is a bright tomorrow still out there for you.
Don’t get me wrong - sometimes I wish life were easier. But I never would have learned to love others or my community so sincerely had not gone through what I went through. In addition, volunteering has helped me realize my place in that community and, above all, how to truly serve others by first dealing with what comes along for you and your spiritual growth.