In a vulnerable new blog post, Carrie Ann Inaba calls herself an “invisible warrior” for an important reason. The Talk co-host is currently battling multiple “invisible” chronic illnesses, including autoimmune diseases like lupus and Sjögren’s syndrome, fibromyalgia, iron deficiency anemia, depression, and anxiety.
Living with invisible illnesses “does not make for an easy life,” she wrote. The symptoms she experiences daily—like chronic fatigue, confusion, pain, discomfort, dry eyes, joint pain, difficulty swallowing, and brain fog—can be “debilitating.”
“Not to mention, there are also the effects of medications, whether it be swelling or weight gain or loss … or just the fear of what it might be doing to your system in the long run,” she added.
For years, the television star closed herself off from the world due to her symptoms. “I started to live my life in ways to avoid causing any flare ups or panic attacks. Life became more of an avoiding of life than an actual life. And my life became very small,” she wrote. “I lived like that for years. Afraid, and avoiding the things that could cause me pain and more pain.”
She continued: “Once I recognized I had to let go of the image of being ‘able’ and ‘strong’ in the way I had been used to, I discovered new things about myself ... And I learned how to actually accept myself in each moment as I was,” adding that “I couldn’t ‘win’ my battles with the pain or fatigue or any other part of it. So I surrendered. I decided to see myself as a ‘sick person’ with limitations.”
Although Inaba’s various conditions result in physical and emotional pain, she appears healthy and normal to the average person.
For example, Inaba appeared on The Talk in May and shared that she was struggling with a fibromyalgia flare-up. “I look healthy and I am really healthy—all things considered, but then I have these incredible sharp pains,” she explained. “It sounds so silly, but people who have these like invisible illnesses—whether it’s rheumatoid arthritis, or a gastrointestinal thing—I feel so much shame when I go through these things, because I want to be what people see. And people see a healthy person, from the outside.”
Inaba admits that coping with her conditions often felt lonely, but she now views that isolation as a gift. “We are the only ones going through this struggle, the only ones that can determine our pain level, and what works and what doesn’t,” she wrote. “The doctors are for information. But decisions are our own. Feeling the relief and the discomfort are ours to experience alone. And we have to find ways to stand strong and become our own best advocate for our own health.”
With that, she has learned two important lessons: Be the hero of your own life and accept all parts of yourself.
As for how she is doing now? Inaba said that it took her a few years of experimenting to figure out which treatments worked best for her. “You must be proactive in your treatment,” she says. “You are the expert on you.”
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