"When Selena Gomez announced that she had lupus I was probably more interested than most people. I have lupus too and know what it’s like to live with that condition – there’s very little public awareness around this debilitating condition and, despite huge advances in medicine, there’s no actual cure.

Mine was first diagnosed when I was 18. I didn't know what it was at first. I was struggling with tiredness, joint pain, blisters on my fingers and a rash on my upper body for around three months before being diagnosed.

I also have a rare blood condition too called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura which obviously has an impact on my condition. Due to having this illness I underwent a splenectomy four years ago which means I have no immune system.

Symptoms and side-effects

It was hard during my teenage years as I don’t think school really understood what it was like. But once I started treatment and left school it was much better. I have regular flare-ups which means I struggle with swelling in my knees, fingers and wrists. This means I'm unable to bend my joints and do simple tasks.

I also suffered from hair loss, which has become more regular in the last three months, serious fatigue and a regular occurrence of headaches as a result of this illness. I'm also on antidepressants, another side-effect from lupus. I take six tablets a day and have several other health issues, which are caused by lupus.

Lupus has affected all aspects of my life, including my relationships with friends, but I'm lucky that my boyfriend and family have been a fantastic source of support. I work in Essex as an account handler for a company, Kings Transport, and they're really good at understanding about my flare-ups and my health situation.

I always tell myself there are many other people in this world who are in worse situations. I cry when I'm in pain and when I'm feeling unwell, but I've taught myself that this is a sign of strength and not weakness and its perfectly fine.

Treatments

I'm on 100 mg of azathioprine (two tablets), 75 mg of hydroxychloroquine (one tablet) and 250 mg of phenoxymethylpenicillin (one tablet) a day. I'm on an anti-acid drug because I have helicobacter pylori (two tablets). I have regular blood taken every week, and regular check-ups at Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

I think sharing my story is important so that people understand the work Versus Arthritis is doing."