AS someone who lives with chronic illness I want you to know that life has not been all that miserable. I know that you think this means I have it all figured out, however that is the furthest thing from the truth.
I have figured out however that I don’t need to have it figured out, I have made peace with accepting the journey. Fluff I hear you say, I resisted this for many years too.
The Impact of Chronic Illness
I know what it’s like not to be happy with your body and how it is. I know what it’s like to feel so overwhelmed that you cannot breathe. I know what it’s like to know and hear that message deep in your heart and consciously ignore it because the pain is too great to go there.
And, I know what it’s like when everything else feels so out of control that controlling your food feels like the safest and most productive option.
I used to believe that “Food was medicine”. When the medical system failed me (or so I perceived), I tried on all the diets for size…intermittent fasting, restricting food groups, endless searches to find the root cause, Epsom salt baths, countless supplements. I even went and studied Nutrition for 4 years.
If I take the evidence of my life, 2 degrees, 3 gorgeous children, a wonderful home, a close group of friends and even a new business, it’s not all too bad. Yet the internal struggle of figuring out my health had me running around like a bull in a china shop desperate to find the answers and become perfect again.
Learning to Trust my Gut
When I reached rock bottom, something changed in me and that has allowed me to overcome the symptoms of my conditions to live a very fulfilling, happy and healthy life.
After many years of madness, restricting foods is no longer part of my life. Eating foods that make me happy are very much a part of my life. Those foods now happen to be a variety of foods from all food groups.
The Relationship with Food
Healing my relationship with food changed my life. I made peace with food, I made peace with my body. I learned to enjoy it even when the patches are fiery red with anger. I learned to trust myself and to believe in myself. I now challenge myself in ways that allow me to grow stronger every single day. I am now happy to say I am happy.
It is possible to make peace with your body, with your food. It is possible to use food to support your body without those tight control measures, with fearing every morsel you eat. You can learn to enjoy your food so that you satisfy that deep down hunger you have for how you want to live your life.
And because I have struggled my way through my condition, I want to share what I have learned with you so that you don’t need to struggle like me.
My Top Tips for Living with Chronic Illness
Show up for yourself every single day.
By this I mean show up and be the expert of you and your life. We can spend so long looking to others, to more wise or educated people to tell us what to do. Has it always truly helped us?
You know when you get that feeling, that instinct that it just doesn’t feel right for you, well that’s the time that you are most connected with yourself and your inner wisdom and that’s what you need to lean into the TRUST so much more.
I often tell my clients the day I really started understanding my own inner wisdom was the day I stopped eating CHICKPEAS. I was on a rampage of eating all the chickpeas and lentils in the shops in order to fix my dysfunctional gut. My GUT was screaming at me this wasn’t working and that was the first time I understood that I knew what to eat. The next step was to find the right support to allow me to uncover that.
Be Selective with the Activities you Take on
In the early days of managing my conditions, I got a list as long as my arm of things to do to fix my body. All the advice was positive and well intentioned however they only ever made me feel more overwhelmed. I was exhausted, my body physically showed the signs and my brain was burnt out from fixing everything.
The deep determination to prove my body was not failing me, my incessant quest to find the root cause was actually adding to my body’s pain and I was still to learn how. You see, the theory of what we should do does not take into account how our lives function.
If you visit a health professional and they tell you to walk, talk, eat and sleep, you might just leave the session thinking well if it were just that easy I would be bloody doing it. Following plans work for a while until you get bored.
Trying to be some perfect picture all in the name of health takes its toll. If you work with me, my primary focus, I don’t know how to do it any other way, is to just listen to your story. I want to understand your story, so that when the time is right I can offer you the appropriate information for you. In creating a space where you feel free to ramble around your mind, the magic unfolds as you discover your own potential. And my hearts sings.
Learn and understand your strengths.
I wish I had known there was nothing that needed to be fixed. It’s funny how the part of my body that gave me so much grief has ended up being my passion and gives me some of the greatest moments of my week as I work with people who want to achieve greater satisfaction and peace in how they live and nourish themselves.
How I wish I had known there was nothing to feel ashamed of or angry with? How I wish I had understood that perfection is a myth? In all my growing years I thought perfection to be my strength. I never knew what a saboteur that was.
In everything I did, nothing could quite live up to my scrutiny. Even my GUT was infuriated with my incessant attempts to right things. There was always a flaw that encouraged me to follow a forced and frenzied path of getting it right. It was not until I realised things needed to be viewed from another angle that I got comfortable with stopping to find out what was wrong with me and starting to notice what was right with me that I became more content.
In time as I slowed down, my body responded. I showed love and kindness to and for myself without guilt, I discovered that I knew what I could do to help me feel better, more alive and at peace. Learning is one of my top strengths, I have recently discovered. Instead of now feeling regret for that incessant part of me, I respect that part of me because perhaps without her I wouldn’t have learned what I needed to learn.
You see for me learning is being open to understanding yourself. You won’t like every part of you that you uncover and yet they will always be there. Learning for me is how to live with who I am and understand what part of me it is that needs the most energy right now and I believe that learning about ME and applying what knowledge I want from others is where we can really transform our lives.
I read “As you are” over the holidays by Aimee Hartley. It was like reading my story and I was really humbled to discover the journey that I had been on all these years written in black and white for me to relive, perhaps relieved that someone else was the same as me.
By the way, you can read more details about my journey here.
Working on your health is much more about working on yourself. We can try and put a plaster on the exterior but if we don’t tend with love and care for the wounds inside then the plasters will fall off.
I never discourage anyone from their goals, I always ask you to trust the journey you are on, be open to learning and be ok with changing your direction as you go. Who knows as you trust yourself more and become loyal to you, your values and your strengths the magic that you might uncover.
I loved this quote from Aimee.
“We can choose the thoughts that run through our head, create a dialogue, debate and take a little control”
So if you do not know how to show up for yourself, if you are struggling to decide what needs your attention, if you have not one single idea of what your strengths are, perhaps this gives you more of an insight as to why you might like to find out!
Give me a holler, after all my intention is only ever to support your journey to…