"Aren't you a little bit young to be taking all these medications?" the pharmacist asked me. I was only picking up four medications. And I need them; that's why they're prescribed to me. I looked at him with disgust and asked, "Do you think I want to be taking all these medications?" I grabbed my bags, left the pharmacy and called my mother. "Is he allowed to ask me that?" I asked her, close to tears. I try to live a normal life, but I'm always reminded that I have lupus -- from that incident with the pharmacist to dealing with my swollen joints. I exercise and eat a strict diet so that I have as much control as possible over my disease. But no matter what, it's still a part of me, and the only thing to do is manage it as best as I can. I allow myself to do "normal" activities, with small lupus-inspired adjustments. I love to go to the beach but make sure I'm under an umbrella, wearing at least 30 SPF and a sun hat. When lupus is making me feel especially pasty, I buy spray tan packages so I look sun-kissed without the actual sun's involvement. I've had to make some big changes, but they are changes I'm willing to make if they ensure that I'm healthy and happy. Diet, exercise and caution are three ways I cope with the disease. But I also train my mind to think positively and proactively. I don't let this disease consume me. I think about how God has blessed me with a relatively healthy life and a loving family. When I feel unhappy about my condition, I think of others I know who are dealing with harder situations. I remind myself that what I'm dealing with is unfortunate, but it could always be worse. I have come to terms with the fact that I will be living with lupus the rest of my life, so every day is a growing and learning experience that helps me deal and cope with the disease. Meredith Rich Emery is living with lupus, works in property management and is desperately trying to wean herself off bread. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and dog, Coco.