According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Studies, over 24 million Americans have autoimmune disease. As many as 75% of these individuals are women. The socioeconomic impact is significant, both to individuals and to our economy. Though progress has been made, there is still far to go when it comes to autoimmune awareness and the overall impact of these diseases.

In the first 5 years of being an entrepreneur, I temporarily shut my business down three times to refocus on my health. Each time resulted in financial loss to our household income. Additionally, I became an entrepreneur after acknowledging that I simply was not able to maintain my health in the corporate workforce. The lack of flexibility was devastating to my health. This meant the loss of a very good salary, retirement benefits and healthcare.

3 Points to Be Aware of in Advocating for Autoimmune Awareness

Disability versus Entrepreneurship

As an entrepreneur in my early years, there were times when friends, colleagues and even those in the medical profession encouraged me to apply for disability. Though there are definitively times when disability is truly needed, I felt that with the proper support system, I could run a business and manage my health. This decision is not easy, and it is important that we don’t use our own stories to judge others. I was lucky.

Thankfully, I did figure out how to create a lifestyle that supported both my business and my healing. As mentioned, it took me a number of years to figure it out, but figure it out I did. I am now thriving while owning two businesses and managing my health. I am enjoying helping other entrepreneurs with autoimmune disorders due the same. And… I LOVE being an entrepreneur.

The losses can be unexpected

Unfortunately, many women with autoimmune illness are not as fortunate as I have been. And I can tell you first hand that the socioeconomic impact can be huge. Financially, individuals not only lose income, but also have increased medical bills. Socially, due to the ‘invisible’ nature of many autoimmune disorders, it is challenging for others to understand the impact of the illness if they do not have one themselves. This can and often does result in the loss of friendships and changed relationships with family and friends. For some, this can lead to unsolicited loneliness.

Why do I share this?

If you have one or more autoimmune disorders, know that you are not alone. Also know that there may be answers that will help you live your life more fully. If you have autoimmune disorders and are truly thriving, don’t lose sight of those being newly diagnosed or who otherwise might need your support. If you aren’t aware of the impacts of autoimmune disorders and have a loved one or friend experiencing autoimmune illness, consider reading up and learning about the illness and expressing your support. A little awareness goes a long way towards spreading compassion.

I initially shared part of this message on Instagram in honor of International Women’s Day. Since the message is important, I decided to share it to a wider audience. Thank you for taking the time to become more aware of the impacts of autoimmune disorders. #internationalwomensday

Simone Giangiordano, better known as Simone G, is the creator of BalanceUP® Community. She is a business and lifestyle coach who has helped hundreds of clients create a business that works for their unique lifestyles. This despite being told by multiple doctors and professionals that she should not work and to just get on disability because of her chronic health issues. She has used her nearly 2 decades experience in the corporate world and more than 15 years’ experience as an entrepreneur, trainer, and business coach to create the Building Balance to Empower® programs, including her signature program The Power of I Can't® to help individuals with heath challenges create and live a life of peace, joy and yes… success.Learn more about Simone G's story.

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