Thoughts on Healing
Hi everyone, happy Sunday! I know I’ve been quite quiet on The Visual Veggie and wanted to open up about what I’ve been going through. I’ve held off on writing this because I knew it would be difficult to put words to how I’ve been feeling, (hint: not great) but I hope my real message rings clear.
Over the past 7 months, my health has gradually taken turn for the worse. My diagnoses of Primary Immunodeficiency, Lupus, and Hashimotos have been more or less ‘under control’ up until this year. With this longer flare up, it’s getting harder and harder for me to recognize myself in the mirror. I’ve lost weight that I did not have to lose (and am actively trying to regain), my hair has fallen out in clumps, and my skin has become so sensitive that it’s hard for me to use facial products, let alone go outside in the sun without a burning rash. As a doctor so blankly stated recently, ‘You look really sick, Celina’.
Beyond my physical appearance, I have gone to more doctors (and doctor’s appointments) than the past two years combined. I have started more new medications in the past 2 months than I have in years, too. I have cancelled numerous trips, outings with friends, date nights, plans in general. I am in and out of hospitals multiple times a week, pricked and prodded at an equal amount. My energy, patience, and mental strength are all running low.
Despite all of this?
I know that my dedication to healing my mind, body, spirit will serve me well in the long run. And I know that trying to be happy and healthy all the time does not serve anyone. Not you, and especially not me. At my core, I am an optimistic and hopeful person. But these past months have really tested my resiliency.
Historically, my health issues have been too much of an emergency to ignore. I was hospitalized, I was bedridden, there were pills like steroids to solve my symptoms relatively quickly. The tricky thing about having multiple diagnoses, though, is that a domino effect can occur at any moment, making symptoms harder to assign. In my case, it seems that the past 7 months were set off by a mixture of things: 1. ‘quitting’ the pill after many years on hormonal birth control, 2. the normal fluctuations of life with autoimmune conditions (Lupus, Hashimotos i see u), 3. allowing stress to get the better of me.
Although I have ‘blamed’ much of my symptoms on shifting hormones, the reality is that stressing about all of this has made nooooothing better. Furthermore, not talking openly about this hasn’t been serving me either, because I have been burrowing myself in a cocoon, instead of being speaking my truth. To me, it seemed easier to retreat from the world until I found a solution, a magic bullet, so that I could write a long post eloquently describing how I overcame issues X, Y, and Z.
What I’m slowly but surely understanding now is that life doesn’t have to be so black and white (retreat from life vs. live life, sick vs. healthy). Actually, it’s not meant to be. There is a lot of gray area. Especially for us spoonies with chronic illness. I’ve been living almost half a year waiting to ‘get better’, and am finally accepting that my health journey is really a marathon, not a sprint.
Of course, there are certain things I’ve been doing that are probably helping me in the long run, but I don’t want to make dramatic statements like celery juice will heal your gut forever or acupuncture will cure all your ailments. Remember: there uuusually isn’t a magic bullet.
That being said, I will briefly share some things that have helped me:
Walks (Outside is best, but inside is possible too. When my lupus rash really hurts I’ve literally put on a podcast or audiobook and walked around inside)
Talking - to family, friends, therapyyyy!!!
Taking a class! I started a drawing class and it’s been awesome.
Meditation (highly recommend the app Headspace)
Yoga (simple channels like Yoga with Adrienne are fun)
Mindful mealtime (sitting down and really chewing each bite!)
Cuddling w Mizu (animals are the best medicine)
CBD, lavender, and magnesium citrate for stress & sleeeep
Eating colorfully but not fearfully
Taking the time to find a good team of doctors, who are invested in making me feel my best, and are willing to listen and work with me. This one takes a lot of research, effort and patience. Do not settle if you’re not being heard.
And some that have most definitely not helped:
Looking in the mirror
Endlessly scrolling on my phone
Staying inside for too long
DR GOOGLE!11!!! (Seriously. This one is THE WORST)
If you’re reading this and have experienced or are experiencing a similar ‘gray area’ struggle, I am sending you so much healing love, light, and strength. Chronic illness or not, it’s easy to feel polarized and overwhelmed as a human being in this day and age of FOMO, instant gratification, and Instagram. But if social media has taught me anything, it’s that a uplifting and inspiring community is there if you look for it. Besides, being normal is SO boring guys. ;)
Although I am finding more peace with my current situation, it doesn’t mean that I am immune to hard days, self doubt, bitterness, or shame about my appearance. However, it is my belief that everyone has a choice in life - to live in fear, or grab fear’s hand.
I’m sick and tired of living in fear, so you bet I’m grabbing fear’s hand and going on a long walk. Now who’s with me?!