I never thought it would happen to me. I was an achiever, a go-getter, a set-your-mind-to-it-and-achieve-it kind of a person. Always pushing myself to be better, do better, and achieve more.
When I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in 2015, to say it was a shock was an understatement. Since my diagnosis, I have had to learn to live with this invisible disease. It has also taught me a few life lessons, which I would like to share with you.
- Take care of your body before it forces you to take care of it. I didn’t take care of my body as I should have. Oh yes, I ate what I thought was a healthy diet and I exercised regularly, but it wasn’t enough. My stress levels were through the roof, and I didn’t give my body nourishment. I pushed my body too hard and when it couldn’t keep up with my demands anymore, it finally pushed back. My body forced me to stop. The recovery journey has been long and difficult, and it started with real nutrition. Which leads me to my second point…
- Junk food is not food. There is junk, and there is food. Your choice.Food can be fuel or food can be poison. Making changes to my diet was one of the first things I needed to do, yet it was also one of the more challenging things to do. Our habits, especially around food, are deeply ingrained, and difficult to change. Removing gluten, dairy, soy, and refined sugar was not easy. Many restaurants, company canteens, conference venues, and quick stop takeaways do not have options for me. I had to learn to plan and prepare in advance so that I don’t buy the wrong food out of desperate hunger.
- I appreciate the good and great days! Where I am at in my healing journey, I have more better days than bad days, which is great! But I know it can quickly change. Too much stress, eating something wrong, using skincare, and even toothpaste with too many chemicals, can cause a flare-up leading to me losing three to six months of my life. I have learned to appreciate the gift of having energy, and appreciating every good day!
- Listen to your body and be your own health advocate.I have been to many doctors and specialists in my search for solutions for feeling better and getting this disease in remission. It has been frustrating to see specialist after specialist with no real solution. They treat according to their specialty – it’s not their fault, it is how they have been trained. I have been told it’s in my head, just eat less and exercise more, and everything is fine according to the lab results. But it wasn’t fine. I knew something wasn’t right. I finally found a functional doctor who helped me from a holistic functional perspective, who treats the person and not the lab results. Medical gaslighting is real and it happens. Don’t except it. Be your own health advocate.
- Don’t underestimate the power of small changes. I have had to change everything, but I learned you cannot change everything at the same time. In order to make lasting changes, it is important to make the changes so small that it is easy to do and keep doing. This is the only to create new lifelong habits. Some changes were easy to make, like drink magnesium every night before bedtime, while others took a little more work. The small changes over time add up, and start to create a multiplier effect of health! So, whenever you have to make a change, keep it so small that you can keep doing it without any effort.
Being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease was one of those life-changing events for me. It forced me to take stock of what I want in my life, and it has also created new opportunities for me. It has not been an easy journey, and there will be bad days. But there will be good days as well. I live for those days!