I am a bulldozer, or as my husband has lovingly said, a snowplow, due to my Minnesota roots. I spent the first 25ish years pushing through life without regard to what my “machine”, my body, needed, and without listening to the signals it was giving me. It would give me signals that my belt was burning up (I needed to take more time to rest and recuperate) but I would push on. It would start making funny sounds but I would throw some WD-40 on it (or ibuprofen, Tylenol, caffeine, alcohol, anti-depressants, etc) to quiet the squeak rather than open the hood and try to determine the cause. My check engine light would come on but I would just put a sticky note over the top of it so the signal would stop flashing in my face and distract me from pushing on. You get the drift. Rather than taking the time to be still and problem-solve through why my machine was not running smoothly and was throwing me all of these signals, I would ignore or find a quick fix to keep on running without stopping for maintenance. Eventually my machine just stopped and would go no further despite all of my tried-and-true tricks to get me back on the road quickly. The fatigue wouldn’t go away with more caffeine. The pain wouldn’t go away with ibuprofen, Tylenol, or even muscle relaxants. My depression continued to weigh me down with little relief from anti-depressants. I finally realized that my machine was down for repairs indefinitely. I received a more formal diagnosis of Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (autoimmune hypothyroidism) but didn’t know what caused it, or rather was scared to find out. I had no idea how to fix it besides taking the prescribed thyroid medication that only dulled my symptoms and didn’t get me back on track like I expected. I sought out experts to give me the answers with little luck. I searched the internet for the magical cures. I used my strong intellect and book smarts to “fix myself” but the deeper I dug, the more I realized that there was no quick fix or magical answer that was going to get my machine back on the road quickly. And I realized that my machine would probably never allow me to function at the same intensity as it did before without shutting me down.
Within the first year or so, I realized that all of the years of pushing past the signals or giving them a quick fix was what put me out of order. Running at that speed and intensity was not sustainable for life. I managed to do it for 25ish years, but if I wanted to be healthy and not feel like crap for the next 70ish years, I would have to make some major changes. I would have to learn to relax, which is something people had been telling me to do my entire life with significant frustration on my end because I had zero idea how to do that without self-medicating, usually with alcohol. The biggest problem of all was that I was proud of how hard I could push myself and all that I could accomplish without basic self-cares like rest. I lived on a few hours of sleep each night (and not quality sleep either), using caffeine at all hours of the day to give me the energy boosts I needed to sustain productivity. I was eating foods that my body didn’t agree with even though they were generally healthy. I popped ibuprofen and Tylenol like they were candy with absolutely no awareness or recognition that they may be harmful for me to use at all, let alone with the frequency I was taking them. And I spent my weekends and sometimes weeknights with a beer or glass of wine (usually multiple) to get the only form of relaxation I knew how.
I viewed resting and slowing down as a weakness or vulnerability, which were way too hard on my ego to tolerate. This belief was what had to change completely in order for me to recover and get back to working order. I started sleeping 9-10 hours per night vs my usual 5 or 6, not out of self-awareness but out of complete need in order to make it through a day. I started napping when I could even though I despised naps and thought they were a total waste of time. I started to look into natural remedies such as essential oils, supplements, and nutrition to help alleviate my symptoms. They became a religion to me because they were going to “fix my thyroid”. All of these things helped me to function better and slowly to stop feel like I was dying a slow death, but they didn’t give me total relief. That may sound dramatic (and many will say that I am), but going at that pace compared to the intensely fast one I was going at before my crash truly felt like I was dying both physically and especially mentally with my ego. It was mentally and emotionally very painful to slow down, but physically I had no other choice.
When I started to dig into spirituality deeper and became present and aware of the messages my body was giving me, that was when I started to have the most drastic improvements. I was in a 200 hour yoga teacher training that was transformative for my mind, body, and soul. I realized that my mind and maladaptive belief systems were what caused my nervous system to become so fried that it started shutting things down. This is where I had to do the most work. 5 years later, I am still working on it and still trying to repair my body and fix those belief systems to help me heal and to be more in touch with God. I have learned that this will be a life-long lesson and that the deeper I get into the lesson, the more sensitive I will become and more quickly my body will give me a signal that I can’t ignore. Thankfully I have come a really long way and am healthier than I’ve ever been.
Can you relate to my story? Maybe your diagnosis is not Hashimoto’s but another chronic/serious health condition such as diabetes, overweight/obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, Crohn’s, Celiac’s, IBS or other digestive issues, MS, Lupus, fertility issues, arthritis, chronic pain syndrome, or cancer. These all stem from stress and lifestyle choices, regardless of genetics. Our genetics do not determine what diseases we get for the most part. Epigenetics has found that our lifestyle determines whether or not those switches are flipped to turn those genes on and when. Are you ready to make those changes to prevent those switches from flipping? Or if they already have flipped, are you ready to make changes to help you manage or even eliminate those diseases from your life? Things can always get worse, but they can always get better. I encourage you to start finding ways to promote your health rather than compromise it. If you need a guide to help you along the way, I would love to work with you as your health coach to guide you onto the path that you need to heal and live your best life possible.