On August 23, 2011, the East Coast experienced its first earthquake in over 100 years. I was at my desk when my corkboard filled with pictures began to shake. A co-worker stood in my doorway with a panicked look and my heart began racing as I realized that the shaking wasn’t stopping.

People shrieked and some ran. It was enough time that we were all in the hallway, first peeking out and then flooding out, wondering what was going on.

An earthquake. We evacuated the building and everyone came with purses and cell phones in hand. Who do you call at a time like this? Should we just laugh it off or should we actually worry enough to reach out to our loved ones?

Sheer panic spread across washed out faces. A buzz spread through the crowd of what to do next—where to go, whom to call. Fear of the unknown.

In the end, a few dishes were shattered. Some things fell off of shelves and out of closets. Some roofs were damaged. I noticed a bit of debris falling from our old building.

But we’re all okay. We all tweeted about it. We all googled it. We all kept the conversation flowing with quake jokes. But we’re all okay.

We learned that we value security. We value our loved ones. We value safety.

People were in such a panic because they lost control. But for those of us with chronic illnesses, we’ve already experienced the feeling of losing control—the feeling of something much bigger than yourself taking over your body.

Venus Williams announced to the world that she has Sjögrens. I was diagnosed with Sjögren’s when I was 16 years old and I am ready to share my story of having to throw my hands up, surrendering control.

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