When I was 15 my parents divorced. It felt normal in a lot of ways because so many of my friends had divorced parents. I lived with my Mom. My Dad was close by and really involved in my life; as in picked me up at 6am every. single. school. morning. to take me to breakfast and catch up before my zero period class #bestdadever! My brother was just a few miles away and we talked daily. Well we actually left voicemails on each other’s pagers #blastfromthepast haha! But the point is, we were all close, theoretically connected, and making it work.
Seemingly out of nowhere I started to develop some obvious symptoms that I couldn’t ignore. Weight gain, joint pain, racing heart, headaches, breakouts, insomnia, the list went on. Since my Mom had a few Autoimmune conditions it made sense to head into her Doctor (a Rhuematologist) to see what was going on. After a lot of blood work and a Physical Exam the doctor explained I had Fibromyalgia. Suddenly I saw my life spiral before my eyes; imagining my dance classes ending, social events becoming limited, and wondering if I would ever actually feel better. My Dad had a different idea and promptly brought me to his functional medicine doctor. He also looked at the blood work, he also did a physical exam but this doctor had a completely different diagnosis. He said there was no autoimmune condition present and instead proclaimed; “You’re depressed!” He quickly pulled out a prescription pad of paper and began writing what I thought was going to be a laundry list of medications. When he handed me the prescription, this is what I read:
- Go out into the sunshine daily
- Spend time with your friends and people who make you happy often
- Exercise everyday
- Do more yoga
- Drink plenty of water
- Take deep breaths
- Eat whole foods in their natural state
- Pray and be thankful
This incredible doctor explained that I was feeling the feels of my world changing. Even though everything looked okay on the outside, my emotions were taking over my insides. I needed to learn the power of positive thinking, real food eating, proper hydration, movement to release the stress, and laughing with my friends to bring my mood up.
Within a few days I felt my body start to improve, in a couple weeks I could feel a slight glimpse of my old self, in a month I was back to my version of normal. I still felt the effects of my family separating, the pressures of high school and everything in between. I still got stressed and felt anxious at times. But when I felt that heaviness creeping in I turned the dial up a notch on my positive defenses (aka the list the doctor wrote out for me). I also started seeing an amazing therapist and working out all the confusion in my mind.
I don’t want to discount autoimmune diagnoses; they are real and autoimmune is one of the most complicated areas of disease that doctors are still trying to figure out. But as real as these diagnoses are; the power of self care is just as real. 6 months after I had my daughter my OBGYN ran blood work and told me I had some of the highest markers for Hashimotos he’d seen. He said within a few months I would experience some serious thyroid symptoms and could call him to start medication. 9 years later I still don’t need meds (thank goodness). Although my “markers” are still high, I consistently show balanced thyroid function. Every year my doctor runs my blood work and exclaims “whatever you’re doing with your nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle is working; KEEP DOING IT”. I’ve made some simple but highly effective nutrition and exercise changes… and I will do a post on those soon!
May in Mental Health Awareness month and I want to remind you to take care of your mental health as much as you take care of your physical health. It’s easy to be motivated for those sleek abs and booty building vibes as summer approaches. But our outsides can only look as amazing as our insides radiate.
If you need help; seek it.
If you’re facing dark or scary thoughts; remind yourself they are temporary.
If you feel down; choose something to lift you back up.
Cheer yourself on
Blast dance party worthy music
Move your body
Know you’re not alone
You are not weird, you are normal
You are loved
You are stronger than you think
You are beautiful
You are enough
You are worthy
You are loved
You are loved
You are loved!!