Carrie Ann Inaba candidly reveals she feels “so much shame” while battling autoimmune disease.
“I have all these autoimmune conditions, and I’m in a really bad flair,” Inaba, 51, explained, fighting back tears on Tuesday’s episode of The Talk.
“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 told cohosts Sheryl Underwood, Sharon Osbourne, Eve and Sara Gilbert.
“I look healthy and I am really healthy — all things considered, but then I have these incredible sharp pains like today [the hairstylist] was doing my hair and he barely touched me but I thought he burnt me with a curling iron because my body is in a fibromyalgia flair.”
According to the Center for Disease Control, fibromyalgia is a condition that causes pain all over the body, sleep problems, fatigue and emotional and mental distress.
The condition affects about 4 million American adults.
Despite her struggles, Inaba says her reason for sharing is to encourage others to not be embarrassed.
“I want to encourage people, because even though I feel shame, I know at the same time I shouldn’t feel shame,” the Dancing with the Stars judge explained.
Osbourne, 66, quickly comforted Inaba by sharing a story about her daughter Aimee Osbourne.
“My eldest daughter [Aimee] has exactly the same thing that you do. I know how heartbreaking it is. I’ve seen what it’s done for her,” Osbourne shared.
“It’s embarrassing… sometimes you just can’t get a handle on it, and it’s sort of about self-acceptance,” Inaba added.
In 2013, Inaba was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an incurable immune disorder that can cause pain and fatigue.
“It was debilitating,” Inaba told PEOPLE in January. She gained weight because she wasn’t able to work out. “I was in so much pain, I just had to survive. I had to stay in bed three days a week, and I’m so fortunate because I had the kind of job where I could do that. There were days I could barely make my coffee because I was so exhausted.”
Inaba’s Sjorgren diagnosis came six years after it was revealed to her that she had spinal stenosis, a narrowing of the spinal canal that can cause pain and numbness.
In the process of coming to terms with Sjogren’s, Inaba said she looked inward. “It helped me evaluate who I am,” she said. “I did a lot of soul searching. I learned about who I am besides being a sexy dancer chick. And ironically, as I let all that go, I found my way back to feeling vibrant and radiant again.”
Now, thanks to a regimen of craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, yoga, Pilates and Reiki, Inaba is coping with her pain and looking forward to the future with an air of gratitude for what she’s learned.
“I love when life throws me something challenging,” Inaba said. “Because I know something beautiful is just around the corner.”
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