Gina Insalaco

When I was 6, I used to think it was normal to wake up with pain in my fingers and feet. I thought everyone got migraines and stomachaches a few times a week. I thought my knee swelled like a cantaloupe because it felt like it. At age six, this was normal to me. After 25 years of coping with lupus, I have dealt with my normal.

It’s not normal to have to look at a medicine basket that has over 10 kinds of prescription bottles, or to have to be on medications that change your body or make you lose your hair. But despite everything about me that is abnormal, I LIVE a normal life. I have learned to live with this horrible disease and conquered it.

I received full scholarships throughout my college years. I graduated with a masters degree, Summa Cum Laude, and I work as a Licensed Professional Counselor at a mental health agency.

In my life’s work I help those with mental illness learn to cope with their normal. I teach others to look at different perspectives on how they live and what they can do to make themselves feel better with more than just medications.

I wish I didn’t have to take medications every day or give myself a shot because I have osteoporosis. I wish I didn’t have to be so careful in the sun. But just like the individuals I work with, I have learned there is no magic pill to take the pain away. I wish there were. But, for now, I have to take it day by day.