Hello! I’ve been sharing so many recipes lately, but it’s been a long time since I shared anything about myself, or gave you an update on real life with an autoimmune condition. So here I am! One thing I am very excited to share is that I will be graduating in December with a Diploma in Holistic Nutrition! I am thrilled to be able to soon offer nutrition services with a specialization in autoimmune disease. Keep an eye out for that!
As many of you know, I was diagnosed with Graves Disease back in 2012. Over these last couple years, I have flipped, and been living in a tug o’ war game between Graves and Hashimotos. That means that at one point my thyroid will flare high, then plummet into hypo, then it will zigzag a little, then a year later will climb high again. It has been an adventure to be sure.
I have struggled over the last year and a half with a un-budgeable weight gain of 60lbs and severe depression and anxiety. I have been on all the recommended medication. My endocrinologist (who actually responded to my educated queries with “I see you’ve been Googling”), didn’t care to do much investigating, and seemed to believe my weight gain was more due to “carbs in versus carbs out”.
Six months ago, my levels finally settled again, and I was finally feeling MYSELF again! My moods have been SO much more stable and I was feeling stronger and able to start exercising again (gently!). Unfortunately, that didn’t last, and I have recently swung back into a hyper state (due in part to an unavoidable lung-full of chilli powder and the stress of the ensuing symptoms).
When things like this happens, I have a little melt down, I discuss my feelings with a friend, I ask advice; but since my depression last year, I generally move on and focus on getting better and loving myself despite everything that is “wrong”. Unfortunately, I also receive an onslaught of unsolicited concern from some people who are worried that I’m not getting the help that I need, and that all my work over the last few years isn’t working.
So. Why am I telling you all this?
I want you all to know that this is simply real life with an autoimmune condition (or really ANY chronic condition!). Flares can happen anytime, and you’re lucky if you only get a few over your life time. You can change your diet, your lifestyle, your outlook, or you can do exactly what the doctor tells you – but chances are you will still have flares or complications at some point.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t change anything!
I also want you to know that even though this is real life with an autoimmune condition, there is also so much recovery and hope. There is so much we can do to mitigate flares and symptoms! Let’s not forget that changing my diet and lifestyle has eliminated my eczema and hives, and given me longer between flares. These successes give me hope each time I flare, because I know that I have helped myself before, and I can do it again. It is hard to remember how far you’ve come when you’re feeling like utter crap, and this is why I am writing this for you! Because no matter how far you fall into your symptoms, you can always get back up.
I truly believe that we can do so much for ourselves through nutrition, stress-management, and mindset tweaks. Taking control over our decisions gives us our power back, and in turn makes us stronger and better able to deal with our conditions and “life-lemons”.
3 Tips to Get Back on Track:
1) If you are at all overwhelmed, sad, or even angry, have your tantrum or meltdown! It is important and truly cathartic to let the rage and grief out. It is also therapeutic, as burying emotions has been shown to make people sick. Letting it all out allows us to move past the moment and focus on what is truly important – getting back up.
2) Assess what may have triggered you – was it avoidable? If so, work on making changes to avoid it in the future. This might be stress-management, eliminating a food intolerance, learning to say “no”, or maybe even moving out of a toxic environment (be it physical or emotional).
3) Choose your health team. You probably already have a doctor and a specialist, but maybe you want to try something new – weekly acupuncture, massage, a naturopath, a nutritionist, or maybe an herbalist. Working with different modalities provides different angles for healing and learning. Maybe your doctor will only focus on your acute condition, but acupuncture may relieve your stress, or a naturopath may help you balance your hormones. The world is your oyster – try everything and see what works for you!
So that’s my little update and pep-talk – the moral of the story is that we can’t be perfect all the time, and that means we will likely have autoimmune flares. But just like falling off a bike, you just have to get back on (and may slow down a little!). You’ve got this!