7 Things I've Learned In My 8 Years Of Illness


Hello dear friends!

Alas, another of my “sick-versaires” just passed, on July 16th. If you haven’t already read my whole story, you can go check that out, and learn why I mark this day each year. Some people have asked me why I want to remember or “celebrate” the anniversaries of the day I got sick, and while the acknowledgment is a mix of emotions, I choose to think of it in positive terms. Another year of being a total badass. Another year of learning new things. Another year of getting to know my body better. Another year of sharing my stories, healing on deeper levels, and connecting with awesome people like you!

I didn’t write a blog post on last year’s anniversary, but I did write one the year prior, and many of you have really connected with the things I shared in that piece. So, I decided I would write another one this time around, especially since I’ve experienced even more growth and learning lately! Each and every year (more like every day, if I’m honest), new and interesting experiences crop up, and I learn a little bit more about myself and all of the healing potential that is available in this big, complex world. Every year, I feel like I’ve taken a whole new journey, and found new avenues for healing, empowerment, and community.

After 8 whole years of living with Lyme/CFS, my perspective is forever altered. Here are seven (more) things that I have learned in that time:

1. Don’t underestimate subtle therapies

I admit, I used to pooh-pooh on so-called subtle healing modalities, and I didn’t really think they were worth investing in. These include a wide range of things that work on an energetic level, like Reiki, flower essences, and homeopathy, and I also like to lump in things like infrared heat, chakra clearing, massage, astrology readings, and other complementary therapies. My former hard-nosed scientist brain would immediately dismiss these as being incapable of changing my state of being, but after plenty of personal experience, I can’t recommend them enough. All of these things can shift your energy, and even the smallest shift can make a big difference in how you feel.

2. You will doubt yourself and that’s okay

Self-doubt is a universal human experience, spanning all demographics, professions, and belief systems. I used to think of self-doubt as a serious flaw, and that it must mean that I’m on the wrong track, or I’ve somehow made a terrible mistake (now I don’t even believe in “mistakes” but that’s a subject for a whole other blog!). However, as I get older, and learn to be braver with my heart, my soul, my body…I’ve come to accept this as a normal part of being. I may know more than the average person about chronic illness and self-care, but that doesn’t mean I’m perfect, or that I am not overcome with fear at times. And I'm choosing to accept that.

3. Detoxification support is oh-so-important

I know there is a lot of conflicting information out there on detoxification, and I let myself get confused for a while. And yes, the human body is constantly detoxing, and the average person does not need to worry about it. However, those of us with chronic illnesses like Lyme (especially those with the MTHFR mutation), we do actually need to give our body a hand with taking out the trash. It’s not always fun, but making my detox support a priority has helped me to feel lighter and more empowered, and move through flare-ups faster. My go-tos? This detox kit from Pekana, chlorella, coffee enemas, green juice, tons of water, and the occasional internal clay…

4. Your attitude matters

Another chapter in the book, Things I Used To Pooh-Pooh, is the affect that your thinking/attitude has on your health. Yes, I always knew that there was a connection between the mind and body, but I didn’t realize just how strong it was until I started experimenting with it myself. Trust me, when you have a chronic illness, it’s SO easy to fall into the victim role and see the world as a negative place, but it isn’t gonna help ya! Whether it’s the placebo affect (which is evidence of self-healing potential, but again, a topic for another day…), or something else, I find great benefit when I can “check myself” on a regular basis. Daily meditation, affirmations, and gratitude journaling has shifted me into a place of being more resilient, more joyful, and more open to accepting things as they are.

5. There are more people out there that “get it” than you realize

Man oh man, feelings of isolation are rampant among the chronically ill, and this can in turn make symptoms worse, and even encourage secondary depression, anxiety, and more. For a long time, it seemed like nobody I talked to understood what I was saying, but these days, I meet more and more people that get what it’s like living with these kinds of unpredictable limitations. Perhaps the Universe is sending these fellow spoonies my way? However it’s happening, I am oh-so grateful to have amazing, strong, inspiring, compassionate people surrounding me, and to feel heard and validated. No matter what you’re struggling with, you are NOT alone. Trust me.

6. You are 100% in charge of your healing

For so long, I put all of my faith in the doctors, scientists, and therapists that supposedly knew better than I did. This is pretty common in the conventional Western medical view, where those with the white coats and lots of letters at the ends of their names were “gods,” and we should follow their lead, wherever they go. But this is such a disempowering view of health, and it took me a while to finally realize that only I was in charge of my care. Nowadays, when I meet with new docs or healers, I think of it as a chance to “interview” them for a position on my personal team. This also applies to what I put in my body, on my body, and what kinds of therapies I want to sign up for (or not). Taking back this power has been incredibly important in honoring myself and what works for me!

7. let go of compulsory productivity

You’ve probably seen that our culture is obsessed with productivity, and that our worth is measured by our dedication and industriousness. But did you also know that this idea is alive and well in the chronic illness community too? That’s right, even among those who are disabled, unemployed, and severely ill, the pressure to “perform” illness is strong. We must constantly show that we are working to get better, consistently trying new meds/therapies, and always tweaking our self-care routines. And this. Is. Exhausting. Sometimes we just wanna BE. It’s okay to take a break from the nose-to-the-grindstone approach to healing, and relax. We’re humans too! And unlike completing emails or finishing spreadsheets, healing is not easily quantifiable, and we often feel “unproductive,” even compared to other spoonies. This is obviously an ongoing process, but learning to shrug off some of this pressure has made my life so much more pleasant!

So, my friends, here I am, raising a glass to all of us who have kicked butt for another year. Let’s all continue staying strong, being awesome, and treating ourselves right!

Do you “celebrate” your sick-versaries? What do you do to mark the days? Tell me your stories in the comments!

To another year of bad-assery!

~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~

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