How an AutoImmune Attack Can Really F You Up

I haven’t been writing  much about my Hashimoto’s disease lately.  (I think ya’ll have noticed that.)  It’s not because I didn’t want to, it’s really because there was nothing new to report.  For awhile there, things were going swimmingly.  I felt good, even great on some days. This is HUGE for me – I can’t really remember the last time I felt good on a consistent basis.  (Isn’t that sad?)

Well, the problem with autoimmune diseases is that you never really know when they’re going to say F YOU! (please say that with a Scottish accent like Charlie’s dad in So I Married an Axe Murderer.  It’s really more fun – and accurate – that way.)  They come out of nowhere.  I’ve been really good.  But what I’ve discovered is that one tiny little slip and it will take a week for it to hit, and then a week to recover.  This is no good.

Without going into specifics, let’s just say that gluten got on something I shouldn’t have been eating in the first place (ummm like cheesecake).  Then I got really stressed out at work.  My body probably could have recovered from the gluten or stress OK on their own, but the combination of the two was just too much.  And now I’ve been in crap-ville for a little over a week.  And it sucks.

I’ve discovered that stress is really the worst thing for Hashimoto’s. And of course, it’s a cycle that is so hard to break.  For example, you get stressed out at work.  Then you can’t sleep (more stress on your body).  Then you’re so tired you can’t even think of working out or even moving (more stress on your body).  Or cooking for yourself (more stress).

The next thing you know you’re in autoimmune attack mode and you can’t do much more than sit on the couch.  I thought I was coming down with something last week until my skin issues popped up again (yay for physical symptoms – I’m actually not being facetious here) and it was a reality check.

I think the hardest part of the autoimmune attack is that it’s so hard to climb back out of it again and not feel either guilty or sorry for yourself. I know the best thing for my body is rest.  I need to be gentle with myself.  But I’ve only made it to yoga once this week, and I haven’t seen my friends at all, and etc etc etc.  You get the idea.  The inner monologue is taking over.

I still find it so hard to give myself a BREAK, even though that’s what I really need to do.

So, I need some tips.  Even if you don’t have an autoimmune disease, what do you do for yourself when you’re feeling crappy?  (Physically, mentally, spiritually, whatever.  It’s all interconnected.)

Lucky for me, I have a really quiet weekend ahead and get to spend some time with good friends.  Even though drinking will be involved, I will take it easy, go to bed early, and sleep in.  I’ll be sure to get some sun, to smile as much as possible, and eat well.  Most importantly, I’ll try and remind myself as much as possible that these things happen – I haven’t fallen back on months of hard work just because of a little slip and a little stress at work.  (That, my friends, will be the hardest part.  If you happen to see me in person, please remind me when I’m being hard on myself!)

All In

This blog has altered so much from what my original intentions were.  I started it because people were curious about my 30 day elimination diet (I know you were all wondering how I did without booze for 30 days) and continued into my story of dealing with Hashimoto’s disease in the best way I can.  I thought I could help someone else make positive, healthy changes in their life and feel better. I know what it’s like to feel like shit and not know why.  I thought perhaps I could reach someone out there.

It’s changed again to my story of finding myself – a process that probably seems long and arduous to many of you.  But it’s changed because I’ve come to understand that my health is intrinsically connected to the way my feelings and thoughts about myself.  Dr. Wayne Dyer posted a great quote on Facebook today from Rumi, who happens to be one of my favorites.  I’m paraphrasing here, but it basically says that if you want to change the world, start with yourself.

For those of you who know me personally, you know that I’m a crusader.  I find things that I’m passionate about and I want to fight for them.  I fight daily for my students’ lives as an educator for underserved urban high school students.  I fight nearly daily for my second cause, food justice and literacy.  Both of these causes are important to me – both I feel are necessary to a healthy culture, both literally and metaphorically.

But first, I must start with myself.  And I guess that’s what I’m doing here, although I didn’t realize it until I read that quote.  Thank you for reading, for supporting me on this journey.

You’ve probably noticed or figured out by now that I’m a self-help addict.  I think this has a lot to do with wanting to continue the path I started on with my life coach a little over a year ago.  I don’t want to stop learning about myself, and I don’t think I’m to the point where I can stop thinking about how I treat myself better and live the life I want to live. (And why would I want to?)

Anyway, I get sent a lot of stuff.  I read a lot of stuff.  For those of you who are actual real life Facebook friends with me you know I post a lot of it.  Two things hit my inbox this morning and I’ve been thinking about them all day.

The first was an email from TUT-The Universe.  I’m not sure how I found this thing, but “The Universe” emails you daily with little reminders.  It’s awesome.  It’s always a thought or a question that really makes you think.  So, here’s mine for today:

“Some of the coolest dreams that ever came true, Carmen, weren’t dreams at all, but standards that simply weren’t compromised. 

Oh yeah, we takin’ over… 
    The Universe”

Um, what?  So you’re telling me that my standards were too low all along?  Is that what’s going on?

And then there’s always a kicker after the little sign off:

“Carmen, always being your best, shining your brightest, and standing as tall as you can, pays far more dividends than one might ever imagine.”

WHAT??

I was having a tough time with this one today.  WTF does that mean?  At first, I was a little pissed (which generally means it stuck a chord).

It really made me think about what my “standards” are.  Do I even know?

And then I get this from Your Kick Ass Life:

“So what is something that is bugging the crap out of you, that you can simply ask for help in changing?”

So, you’re telling me that all I had to do all along was ask for it?

Shine your brightest, keep up your standards for yourself and then just ask for what I want to change?

Jesus, is it that simple?

And then I proceeded to freak out.

See, this is why I need self-help.

Here’s the thing.  I honestly believe that if I do these things, I will get what I want out of life.  This is an incredibly powerful thought.  It’s like a genie in a bottle.  It’s incredibly empowering, and incredibly fucking scary.

There’s no alternative though.  I have to do it.  Because if I don’t, I’ll always wonder.  So I’m going to take my chances, and jump.  I’m all in.

7 Ways to Make Your Dreams Come True – from Andrea Owen

I’ll be back for more later, but in the meantime read this post.  It DIRECTLY relates to my thoughts after the Saturday incident:

http://yourkickasslife.com/featured/7-things-ive-done-to-make-my-dreams-come-true

I’m a huge fan of Andrea Owen’s Your Kick Ass Life.  And not just because she says “ass” (although I do love that she doesn’t care what people will say about it and uses it).  She has great things to say, and one of the most important is not settle for less.  I struggle with this.  What am I worth?

A lot.

More later.

So, I was sitting at a bar…

A weird thing happened to me last night.  I was sitting at a bar, watching a band.  I was with a group of friends, but I lost them and just decided to chill and hang out.  I started talking to this girl, and I have no idea what we were talking about, but out of no where she says something to the effect of, “You know, you’d get a lot more guys if you had a different purse.  That purse scares a lot of guys off.”

(I’m not sure it’s necessary to know what kind of purse I have, but it’s handmade bag from Thailand.  This purse has a story.  I love this purse.  It’s me.)

There are lots of things wrong with what she said.  The worst is that she continued – apparently I don’t dress right and don’t wear enough makeup.

For those of you who know me in real life, you know how I dress.  You know I don’t wear much makeup.  I’m not critisizing anyone who wears more makeup than me or dresses differently than me, it’s just not me.

Anyway, she pretty much said that I had a nice personality and I’d attract more attention if I changed everything about my outside appearance.

I was offended.  I pretended like I wasn’t.  I laughed and asked her how old she was.  She was in her mid-20’s.  Right, I thought (maybe said).  When I was your age that’s all that mattered to me too.

This conversation has been weighing on me since.  I’m trying to figure out why this happened to me last night.  There aren’t any coincidences, something that I was thinking brought about this experience.  Was I feeling vulnerable?  Ugly?  Belittled?

Or maybe, I just needed her to say that so I could see how far I’ve come.

It was only a few years ago that her words would have really, really hurt me.  I’m not saying that they didn’t sting a bit, but then I realized that I don’t care at all what she thinks of me.  Or anyone else in that bar, for that matter.  I am who I am.  It’s taken me a long time to figure out that I don’t need makeup or expensive uncomfortable clothes to make people like me.  The people that really matter don’t care what I look like.  They appreciate the fact that I have a purse that I care about.  They like that I’m not the kind of girl who needs makeup or fancy clothes or whatever to prove my worth to the world.

I guess that’s it – I’ve learned that my true worth is what’s inside.  And as long as I like me, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  Because the people who matter, who will stick around, care about what’s inside.

That girl didn’t get to learn how smart I am, or funny, or caring, or that’s I’ve traveled to exotic places and met amazing people and seen wonderful things.  That I’m a writer and a music lover  and I hate to do dishes and I’m a great friend.  But I know these things, and that’s all that matters.

So thank you, my friends, to the old ones and the new ones, and the friends I’ve made through blogging (which is proof that it really doesn’t matter what I look like to be my friend).  Thank you for helping me realize how great I am.

Empty

It’s been awhile since I’ve written.  I don’t know why.  I felt generally crummy last week and shit just happened and I’m feeling behind.  This is all very silly, because I’m not “behind” in anything.  I think I just took a timeout from life for a week and a half or so.  Last week I really needed it.  And before that, well, I went to yoga, but not much else. I think that much of this is readjusting to life back at home, to acclimating my life to new dreams and possibilities, and just generally feeling emotionally overwhelmed.

I did just spend an amazing weekend in Chico with some dear friends, and I’m finally starting to feel like myself again.

But I still feel behind.  I’m five days behind in my Creative Genius challenge.  My backpack is still in the middle of my living room from my trip I got back from two weeks ago.  Yesterday I did a week’s worth of dishes.  Let’s not talk about the writing.

Yeah, this is all self-created madness.

So I feel like all this shit has been stockpiling in my body and my mind and I’m just feeling super weighed down.  Literally.  Today I felt like I carrying a rock around in my belly.

My ever-so-helpful ego tried to use my little tummy issue as an excuse to stay at home and not go to yoga, to take a nap on the couch, to ignore the backpack again and pretend like I don’t have to leave my apartment.  But I went to yoga, damn my ego.

The weirdest thing happened.  I’m on my tummy after a rather vigorous vinyasa involving warriors (all of them), triangle, flip dog, and some other madness and the instructor tells us to turn our head with our ears on to ground and to empty.  Empty everything, she tells us.  Let it all go.

I can feel all this crap, all this generally ickiness, all the doubt that I’ve been having about myself, about the life I’m creating for myself, all the stupidity at work, all the feelings of being “behind”, all the bad thoughts I’ve been having about my body, my spirituality, my career choices, my love life, everything, I felt it just start to release.

I had to choke back tears.  I’m not even sure I realized that it was all there until this moment.

I read a lot of yoga blogs.  And lots of them talk about some postures just make you cry sometimes.  Not because it’s hard (although that can be the case) but because it just opens some door inside of you and everything comes out.  I read that this happens in camel a lot.

But I never thought it would happen to me.

There I am, lying on the floor, holding back tears because I don’t know anyone in the class and they’re really nice but it still doesn’t feel like “my” studio and I already feel like I’m behind everyone else and I just don’t want to cry, damn it.  I don’t want to cry.

It’s OK that I didn’t allow myself to cry in class today.  Maybe it’ll happen again and I’ll be able to cry.  And maybe that will be a good thing.

Or maybe I’ll just cry here at home where I can snuggle with my cat and not feel stupid about it.  And just be done with it.  Be empty.

And ready to start again.