It’s these posts that are the most difficult for me to write, of course, because they are real, and the closer I am to the present the even more real. The posts that involve our day-to-day struggles, our past, and anything that holds the weight for us, they require the sweet and fearful step of vulnerability to share.
However, I believe our challenges are in place to lead us to higher ground. I believe that if I’m going through something difficult, then it’s my responsibility to share the tools that I have learnt so far, to give absolutely everything and anything I can towards being able to help even just one person by one sentence.
Sharing our stories is essential, as it’s the only way that we can ensure that as many people as possible do not feel alone
Anyway, this is post is where I am going to bring my story a little more up-to-date. And right now, I’m not feeling too great, which means it is the EXACT right time to share.
In 2006 I was diagnosed with hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, one of many autoimmune diseases out there in the world, and one of the most popular. In short, it means my body is attacking my thyroid. When I look back at my health history, I start to consider that perhaps my fibromyalgia was in fact an early onset of this autoimmune disease, or perhaps both of them are just the offset from a really really leaky gut. I tend to not get scientific, aside from my own research into what could be going on with my body, I like to read and feel things out.
One of the things that resonates the most with me is that there is something that is underlying that contributes to or causes many illnesses such as chronic pain and so on. The fact that my health was drastically improved via changing my diet links to that the leaky gut is a major contributing factor to mine and many conditions that we see today. If you would like to read more about leaky gut syndrome I very much recommend reading the many wonderful and informative blogs by Sarah Wilson.
I was always told that I was starting to produce antibodies, Thyroid antibodies so at some point in the future I was going to get a thyroid disease. In 2006 when I was feeling so much healthier and starting to be able to be living a full life again, I felt that I was not quite right and I was referred to see a endocrinologist. If you are in the UK I highly recommend Professor Chew at the London clinic, he’s been so helpful and supportive to me. As soon as I had my bloods run it was discovered that my Hashimoto’s was at that point where it could be treated, if I wanted. Now, you are aware that I have always chosen holistic methods for healing, but this time I felt happy to start the replacement thyroid hormone, Thyroxine. I knew of course that I would be complementing it with as many self care methods as possible.
At that point though, in 2006 I was just starting to get into my rebellious mode, testing my body after feeling ‘ok’ for the first time in what felt like forever. Realistically though, looking back, I was still in shock from the whole experience, the FMS and the PTSD, but I was ok and I felt high. I settled back into a life where I was eating sugar again and drinking; my diet was not my main priority.
A few years later my early Hashimoto’s symptoms, which were more on the hyper side of things switched into the typical Hashimoto’s symptoms as always everybody symptoms are so unique and there is nothing that I support more then learning to tune in and feel your own body. If you’re reading this and you have Hashimoto’s, no doubt your experiences and symptoms will be different to mine. I speak not as a professional, but merely as a woman having an experience.
There was a link between me starting the work that I do now and managing my health in a new and more positive way.
Many of you may notice that as you step into your more authentic self, it becomes more difficult to be
in authentic in other areas of your life.
Alongside the Hashimoto’s diagnosis I was noted as anaemic with severe vitamin d and calcium deficiencies.
my thoughts on MY diagnosis
The whole point of this post is that I want to share with you the way that I manage my Hashimoto’s. Whilst I believe at first when we get the diagnosis from a doctor or certain practitioner it is a HUGE relief (and of course in many cases it is life saving, but I’m addressing my experiences here.) Many of you, like me, have experience going from doctor to doctor, from website to website and know the sense of shouting out into the abyss and hoping someone will understand you. When we get the diagnosis, we feel SO EXCITED but then the negative flip side can be that we start to wear it is a label.
One of the big factors in my recovery many years ago, from the chronic pain and post-traumatic stress was that I chose to believe that I could feel good again. If I had stuck with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia I would have been locked in the “There is no cure” belief, and it would have separated me even more from my body. I also had cheerleaders in place, who told me every day told me that I was going to get better. I believe this is pivotal to the reason that I did. When we start wearing our diagnosis as a label it can be difficult to tune into how we really feel, and it really complements that thought that we might be ‘broken’. So I think if we can accept the diagnosis, educate ourselves on the matter THEN surrender it all up and listen to our bodies we have a really great tune in to what is happening. It’s the same reason I think it is not always a good thing to refer to ourselves as having for instance ‘anxiety disorders’ and believing that means we can never be anxiety free. As you may know one of my big passions is anxiety, panic and trauma, because I feel good and have tools for all three, and no I would have never imagined i’d be free from the fear they brought.
So, today I kind of skip between two feelings.
- One: is that I remove myself completely from this label and listen to my body, care for my body, and treat it as and when it feels out of balance.
- The alternative: is that when I have a flare in my system and I feel truly unwell, I have realized it is important for me to remember that my system is acting up. It Is this reminder to myself that takes me back to being gentle and kind to myself. It is though a difficult back and forth. Having a chronic illness involves dealing with a lot of anger and frustration.
As I write this today, (or actually as I am shouting this at my computer and practicing using the dictation!) I am feeling sad and upset with my body. A few hours ago I started breaking out in hives, and as I lay here one of them is in the corner of my eye and is really irritating me. So, it felt like this was the best time to write this post, When I could really be really truthful with how I feel at the moment and in general.
I consider myself to be someone that is thriving with an autoimmune disease because I do not like to consider myself as sick or unwell. I fight the feeling, when it comes up, that there is something wrong with me, that I’m faulty in someway. I believe we are always exactly where we are supposed to be, experiences included. It is important that you never consider yourself to be broken.
I feel grateful to be able to feel good most of the time. When I do not feel good, I refer to myself as feeling ‘off balance’ or having a ‘flare’. Each time, it is slightly different. Right now it is a new type of struggle, that is requiring me to reach for new insights and ideas.
I also know people who have been able to reduce their antibodies, to take their medication down to zero, all sorts of wonderful things. I am so open to feeling GREAT!
how my hashimoto’s feels – symptoms
If I am in a flare I get one or all of the following. It’s rare because of how I look after myself, but for instance if I eat sugar, experience stress/adrenal flare or get too tired then these are the familiar things.
- Hives – I wil break out in hives on my face. I have come to understand that I also have histamine intolerance, another thing I find SO interesting and encourage you to look into if you have anything such as migraines, hay fever, allergies, immune disorders, and actually anything! I was lucky enough to meet Yasmina this week, and her work is game changing.
- Sore skin and body – If I’m really flaring then my entire body feels like a bruise.
- Feeling cold – A classic thyroid thing, I’m mostly cold, hence why this move to LA feels so good!
- Sound issues – Everything will be too loud, a small sound will make me cry. I need to be alone, and in silence.
- Internal tremors – An annoying one, it’s like having extra heartbeats, an internal shiver. I have it a lot at the moment, I can get it when my neck is out of place, due to Magnesium deficiency, tiredness or you know, just because.
- Extreme fatigue – that old trick.
The great thing is that this is a small selection of what I could be getting and could be having every day. This is why I prioritise self care, cause it means I get to not feel shitty all of the time.
HOW I MANAGE MY AI DISEASE
I Do not prioritise stress
Research has shown that over 80% of illnesses are caused by stress. From this, there is a simple answer to what could it be the priority in returning our bodies to balance. Uhhhh the opposite of stress! So why don’t we get it? I have learned through my many clients, and interest in people and their ways, that humans love to prioritise stress. The thing is, it just doesn’t cut it for me anymore.
I like to think of my levels of stress as a reserve system. I believe much of our stress can be a choice. I know that whilst many things can flare my body to create and in balance with my system, nothing flares me more than being under stress.
When I talk about a reserve system, It’s a decision that I only want to be under stress when it is something that is out of my control. There are many events that cause distress, unexpected change, moving house, you know the ones.
I figure that outside those surprise things, my adrenal system deserves to rest as much as possible so I therefore have no interest in choosing stress at any other time. This may sound too simple a suggestion, but check in with yourself right now and ask, in how many ways do you make stress a priority in your life?
- Do you involve yourself in petty dramas amongst your friends or colleagues?
- Do you get angry when you’re in a traffic jam or waiting at the post office?
- How often do you gather stress from negative ways that you punish or are unkind to yourself?
It might be that you read that and are thinking, but my life IS stressful, all of the time. Of course that is true, and there are many people who will be living out a high stress life, but this is where our self help journeys and powers of perception can be practiced. Even in the busiest, craziest, saddest day there are still so many moments where we can choose to not rise to the possible drama. Even just as an experiment, consider it, because after all, when has prioritising negative stress ever felt good?
There is also always the option to be kind to ourselves in any situation.
I BELIEVE IN a morning practice, a faith in my journey + constant discovery
The easiest and quickest way to start prioritising your wellness practice is to set up morning practice. You can read my last post here and start immediately. Taking even five minutes at the start of each day to value your time and get present can be totally transformative for your health.
I know that if I didn’t stop each day to give myself time, to feel my feelings, to check in, then I wouldn’t be able to feel as good as I am able. It’s a no brainer, give it a shot… and yes you DO have time.
I also have a faith in my journey, which I mention a little here. To have faith you don’t need to be part of a religion or believe in God. You can just trust the ground you are walking. It helps to build it up little by little, to keep returning to a space of thinking where you consider that every moment is co coordinating to take you forwards, all the moments, including the sad and the bad. Trust in self is difficult but it is worth practicing.
It also interest me on a spiritual/holistic perspective the reason we get the imbalances we do. AI disease is the body attacking itself, so I also like to check in why and where might I be attacking myself. The thyroid is also the throat chakra governing voice. I work with these things by always trying to be fully authentic, to not dampen my spirit, to express my self with my work and creativity and of course, again, to be kind to myself.
I THRIVE VIA nutrition + holistic therapies
This is as at the top for me with the above, and something else that is totally free and accessible. It will no longer serve us to not connect our mind to our body, to dismiss that what goes into our bodies is a direct link to how we feel. Your brain is inside your body, your body works as a system. Every part of you deserves to, HAS TO be valued. Everything about you, Your experiences. Your physical body, and your emotions, They are all part of the same thing.
I do not believe that I would have recovered from chronic pain or thrive with this Hashimoto’s if I did not change my diet. I currently follow a low histamine, Auto Immune Protocol AIP diet with no sugar or sugar substitutes (sugar makes me feel awful pretty instantly – doesn’t make a difference if it’s a ‘safe’ sugar either.) which works for me. If you are suffering with a thyroid condition or even FMS and are still in an eating regime that is full of sugar, stimulants, processed food and high grains, then I can only recommend experimenting with the AIP diet, or gut healing diet for 8 week to reset and see if you notice significant change. Changing your diet, as I mentioned before, is not easy, but if you prioritise feeling good then it is SO easy.
I have done many trials and errors, and it’s still a process. Your body is unique to you and will speak to you if you let it. I believe the industry is a little overwhelmed with types of diets an way that we should be eating. If we all stop to listen to our bodies, then we will know how to eat. If I followed some of the ‘healthy diets’ out there I could feel significantly unwell, this is why I choose to constantly return to self awareness for healing.
If you don’t feel good then go and see a nutritionist and give it a shot. I notice that a problem is, that the average person doesn’t know what it feels like to feel good. We believe that it’s ‘normal’ to wake up tired, to have that 3pm slump, to always have a blocked nose, to get headaches etc. This is not how a clear body feels – believe that you can feel wide awake and amazing! and research into how to pursue that feeling.
My favourite documentary or recent times is That Sugar Film – a good reminder to be aware of what you are eating.
I get Craniosacral therapy (my all time favourite therapy!), Acupuncture as often as possible, give myself Energy healing daily and check in for more EMDR if needed.
I also now have a full cabinet of only natural make up and products. Did you know that it takes less than a minute for what you put on your skin to get into your system? Good one to think about when using harsh chemicals, and if you don’t believe me then crush and rub some garlic between your toes and see how long it is before you taste it in your mouth!
I KNOW THAT movement HELPS ME
I also try and do as much connecting to my physical body as possible, but I’m not a gym junkie. I love to walk and i enjoy yoga and pilates, sometimes. I have realised it’a all about connecting to a state of expansion. When I feel afraid, sad or angry about my health I know that I’m in a restricted state of mind and to walk out of the house gets things moving. Here in LA, I will march out and climb up to the Observatory and view the whole city. It never doesn’t feel good.
Currently each morning I’m doing 30 Days of Yoga with Adriene and I also love Blogilates. The goal is always to be gentle on myself but to make some sort of movement to propel myself through a stuck feeling. If I’m in chronic pain then the alternative may be to just REST or lay on the floor – listening to the body is always a priority.
I PRACTICE Body love
A big topic. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t at some point criticized their appearance, yes especially those people that you think have nothing to complain about.
To overcome my own body anxieties I again have to constantly return to making feeling good a priority, not being thin, or looking attractive. My body sits at a certain weight and will go up/down 10lbs once during the year. It’s been like this for the past 8 years. I’ve learned that to get thinner than this stable place I have to eat nothing, I mean ZERO, and that’s not really a route I am interested in.
Do I get annoyed that I see people around me stuffing themselves with sugar and get to live in a body half my size? sure! but do I choose to punish myself based upon that? Well, as little as possible. I have studied anatomy and physiology and I know how hard the body works for us, it’s kind of insane, and I don’t want to be mean to mine anymore. I practice body gratitude every day.
“I am grateful for my body” – on repeat, especially when I’m perhaps not so keen on what I see in the mirror.
If you struggle with body image, make the focus feeling good not being thin, it causes a tremendous shift. This leads me on to my next point.
I RECOGNISE MY FearS and PRACTICE body safety
Via my chronic pain and ptsd of the past I have discovered that the absolute safest place to be is IN the body and mind. However, we want to check out when we are in pain, physical or mental, but feeling it ALL is the way to return to balance. Hence why I teach ‘feeling feelings’ to all my clients!
BUT, of course I often struggle to feel safe in my body, I am really battling with that right now. The thing is I know I am safe, but sometimes the weird things that happen seem to try to trick me otherwise. I have been gifted a very intense tune in to my body from the past experiences. I swear I can hear my insides, I know when a joint is out of place, when I’m off balance and so on. It’s amazing, um but also kind of LOUD. I think it comes as a thyroid thing, this heightened senses thing.
Managing anxiety involves listening to the body and affirming that you are safe. There are of course cases where you know you might need help or are in danger, but that is also a thing to be learned. Something I had a lot when I was in chronic pain was very severe chest pain, and a lot of numbness in the body. The fear makes us reach for ‘heart attack heart attack’ and I did get that checked, had all the tests, but it turned out to be inflammation in the muscles between the ribs. Funny how we sometimes forget there are muscles and nerves EVERYWHERE. So I learned that my chest pain was safe, it wasn’t comfortable but it was safe.
Some of the things my body does can feel totally mad, things that someone who didn’t know it was safe would be off to the ER in an instant. I recognize the pains, the tremors, the rushes of hormones, they don’t always feel good but they are familiar, and I don’t freak out BUT I do still head for that “why meeee” place, sometimes often, sometimes rarely. I still have points where I almost wish I wasn’t so in tune with my body.
I’ve noted my body fear is quite prominent right now, from moving to a new country and city, one where I didn’t have my therapists and healers to hand, where I don’t yet ‘know’ the medical system. I’m building up my safety here and constantly reminding myself that I am safe.
“I am safe in my body” – This is your mantra for familiar symtoms, it leads you back to your body, to home, and to the present moment. It’s internal reassurance.
The other thought pattern to work with is “I feel ***, and it’s ok” so it might be that you feel anxious, or you feel unsafe, or in pain, anything and the ‘it’s ok’ is self soothing and draws you back to the body/mind connection.
In the last few weeks I’ve noted some unprocessed trauma rearing up from when I was more seriously unwell. I am also now careful to be noting the difference between a physical symptom and a feeling of anxiety or fear. I’m working through it, and excited to break through to a new stage of feeling good!
I just started reading Walking the Tiger by Peter A Levine and love this quote:”
“Traumatic symptoms are not caused by the triggering event itself. They stem from the frozen residue of energy that has not resolved and discharged; this residue remains trapped in the nervous system where it can wreak havoc on our bodies and spirits.”
I PRACTICE Forgiveness
Feeling feelings. One of the biggest things that I try to make a part of my every day, is forgiveness. It’s so easy to be angry at our bodies or minds when they feel like they are attacking us, SO angry and pissed off, and sad and that overwhelming feeling of just wanting to be NORMAL. It’s normal to have these feelings, but it’s important to know that is IS safe to reconnect to the self.
“I forgive my body, I forgive my mind, I forgive myself.
I recognise that we are all working together, in safety and in love.
I am safe in my body and It is safe for me to be present.”
ALL The rest
I’m not going into more detail here because I speak about my methods of thinking in other posts, but it goes without saying that the ways of thinking that I have been practicing for so many years now are my constant life savers, and;
It all comes back to being kind to ourselves, looking after ourselves, not punishing ourselves. This is the biggest thing humans struggle with, but if you’re out there wondering what your life purpose might be, then let me assure you;
Your life purpose is NOT to be unkind to yourself.
It’s to gain knowledge, evolve, value, cherish, explore, experience.
Check out my list of Non Negotiables and make your own. Learn how to say no. Feel your feelings. Prioritise feeling good over fitting in. Practice energy techniques, because they can make a HUGE difference to wellness (I’ve noted that people who often get AI and chronic pain/fatigue are very ‘in tune’ and some of it can be energetic). Be fearless.
The self healing journey is SO important because when you learn to feel good you can share, and help and be of service; whether it’s to friends, family, your community, the world and the wild.
ASK FOR HELP – IT’S OK TO NOT FEEL OK.
Getting connected to your mind, body and spirit gives you the power to back reflect out something amazing.