My story probably looks a lot like yours; motivated to make a difference in the world, to be my best self, to experience all that life has to offer, I was a go-getter from a young age.
By the time I was in grade twelve I was working three jobs to save for university AND a backpacking trip, I was active in at least 4 extra-curricular activities, and was maintaining a 90% or higher average in all my classes. I could do it all, and I WAS!
Although my health had always been up and down – I had suffered from severe allergies and asthma since childhood – it had never affected my ability to get up, get going, and get everything done.
It wasn’t until my 19th year that I started to experience worsening symptoms of a chronic autoimmune condition. By my second year of university I was in agony. I spent months in an out of the hospital, nursing a swollen, oozy, rash-covered body, unable to eat due to pain caused by irritable bowel syndrome, and feeling lost, alone and heartbroken that my body couldn’t do what it once did.
In hindsight, I see that I was burnt out.
By my second year of university the push to experience anything and everything, coupled with a series of traumatic deaths in my friend group, had launched my pre-existing condition into a full-blown chronic illness crisis.
Unwilling to accept that this turn for the worse was ‘just something that happens’ and that I would be on a slew of steroids and other medications for the rest of my life, I started looking for my own answers.
I was SURE that the traumatic loss of my friends at such a young age, and the stress of post-secondary education were factors in my recurring symptoms. Unfortunately, most of my doctors offered non-committal shrugs at the idea that these two things could be related, but I wouldn’t be deterred. Thankfully, in the depth of my second summer of unemployment, a psychotherapist loaned me a copy of When the Body Says No by Gabor Maté.
In a matter of days, this book changed my life. Maté introduced the field of psychophysiology. Although the book itself only offers anecdotal evidence of the relationship between childhood trauma and severe illness and chronic pain, I was hooked.
Today, I’m overjoyed to say that I’m living symptom free and full of joy.
It’s hard to say what the key element was on my healing journey, and foolhardy to think there was just one. I am off all the steroids that caused awful side effects and am down to one bi-weekly injection that has had miraculous effects (Dupixent for any of my #psoriasiswarriors out there).
I am grateful for my immunologist who worked his butt off to find a solution for me, and who has been with me for almost a decade of ups and downs.
But beyond that, I can say with almost 100% assuredness that committing to a #slowlifestyle full of good food, simple joys, and incredible friends and family has been the biggest factor in my healing.
Should I ever experience a flare again (which is likely), I have an overflowing box of tools to cope with the physical and mental aspects of #chronicillness. I have a network of incredible, supportive people (online and offline) who are invaluable to me. I have the knowledge that first and foremost, a holistic approach to health requires a shift in mindset, a knowledge of mind-body-environment interactions, and most importantly support for the necessary change in lifestyle from stress and sick to slow and thriving.
And what I really want is to support YOU in making that change!
For more thoughts like this, find me on Facebook or Instagram @mindfulhealingterran