5 Things my Chronic Illness has taught me:

Waking up one day and realising your healthy, vibrant, limitless self has gone can be a devastating feat… But it doesn’t have to be the end of living!

For me, it was a relief and the beginning of my life as I know it! I no longer have to feel bad about not keeping up, cancelling plans and reaching milestones the same time as my peers. Don’t get me wrong, the relief was only the first step, it took me years to accept I had my own unique path to carve out. But what a path it has been!! Getting stuck in the “sick” mentality would have been such a waste of living! There’s been so much I’ve learned from having a sensitive body. When I look back on the list I realise it’s been a blessing in disguise! So many people live their lives afraid to change anything or wander off the beaten track. They force themselves to comply with what they think they should be doing. They wake up late in life and kick themselves for not taking chances or living boldly! My body won’t let me do that and for that, I’m grateful!

1) Nothing is off limits! You just have to find your own way of doing it, at your own pace. If you had told my 5, 15 or 25 year old self that I would be living on the other side of the world, climbing up and skiing down mountains, meeting people from all around the world, I would have thought you were bat sh*t crazy! Not only did I move, I flew out on my own! And I’m still here, nearly 6 years later. Don’t get me wrong, there has been times where I’ve wanted to launch myself back to my comfort zone but I’m so glad I rode out the discomfort. Mind yourself on your bad days and make up for lost time on your good!

2) Your tribe is your vibe! You attract the people around you depending on your headspace and beliefs. For me, once I shifted from a place of “I’m sorry for being a nuisance and unreliable” to “I respect my body and its restrictions, this is all I have to give right now, it’s nothing personal” my whole world shifted. I have amazing friends, family and a husband that understand and respect those limits, everyone else suddenly didn’t have a place in my life.

3) Your symptoms are trying to tell you something! The term “Holistic” has gotten some stigma over the years but once I reached my limit on how much the medical system could “fix” my failing organs, I began to explore the whole world of holistic healing. The word holistic itself means Whole. Once I began to look at my body as a whole, (mind, body, emotions, thoughts) I started to see some massive shifts in my healing process and suffering. It’s commonly recognised that when you are nervous, your stomach tenses into a knot. That’s just one example of the body responding to the mind. Soul Space Brisbane provide fantastic courses and content around the topic of Emotional Anatomy. You don’t have to live with chronic aches and pains. You can learn the negative emotion behind each pain and learn to release it and relieve the pain. It’s so common these days for people to push their bodies beyond its limits. Learning our boundaries and listening to our bodies is a vital lesson for everyone to live a fulfilling life, not just the chronically ill. Bad habits will make you low level miserable and will manifest and come to fruition later in life as disease and illness. Why not do something about it now?

4) Stress isn’t what I thought it was. From my very diagnosis I have been told how vital stress management is in managing symptoms. I didn’t think stress played a massive role in my life … until I realised exactly what it was. It wasn’t until I went to a seminar about the impact of one’s lifestyle on Crohn’s Disease did I hear the term “perceived stress” and the penny finally dropped. I guess I always had a universal outlook on what stress was. Obviously everyone gets stressed during exam time, preparing for a job interview or making a presentation to a group. They are completely acceptable stress inducing scenarios. Sweaty palms, pounding heart, tight chest and nausea would have been the typical symptoms of stress I was aware of. The term “perceived stress” blew my mind though. “What do I perceive as stressful?”. Suddenly, as I sat in the auditorium I took count of my current state of mind and body. I worried before I got there about finding an aisle seat so I could make a quick exit if I needed the toilet in a hurry. I worried about interrupting the seminar and drawing attention to myself if I did need to exit in a hurry. I was shaking with fatigued and worried about collapsing or being able to drive myself home. I realised my body was nearly always in some state of stress and it was toxic. I needed to learn how to manage it and pronto. This was liberating!! After five years of trying drugs and different foods to manage my Crohn’s symptoms, leaving specialist appointments in tears without relief, I finally felt like I was in the driver’s seat. There was something I could do and change to relieve my pain and suffering. Understanding my personality type, my coping skills and navigating my way through the stress relief industry has been my mission to relieve my body of its dis-ease!

5) Your body wants to heal itself! The immune system is a very sophisticated mechanism. It exists to repair, protect and heal the body of abnormal and toxic activity. Autoimmune diseases exist because there is something gone astray with the immune system functionality or it’s trying to protect us from something foreign in the body. No one knows for sure what triggers them but what we do know is if your body is being flooded with stress hormones a) your immune system will flag that something is wrong and it needs to react and b) your body won’t get a chance to rest and heal the way it knows how. Although it can be very stressful trying to navigate life with Chronic Dis-ease and pain, it is vital to learn how to manage that stress and find moments to give your body a break to rest and heal.

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