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!)

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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.

I’m Back!

The official flag of Bali. Coat of Arms on top...

My first blog post since my trip and I’m struggling with what to say.

 

I can’t decide if it’s because I have too much to say, or not enough.  What does one say when they return from a trip that may or may not have changed their lives?

 

I know this blog is supposed to be about my struggles (and victories) with Hashimoto’s disease, but it has become much more than that.  While Hashimoto’s does not define me, it is a part of me, a part of my experiences.  There is no separating the disease from me.  So I guess what I’m saying is that if you’re reading this blog because you hope to get support in your own health struggles, that’s great and I hope to provide that, but you’ll have to slog through the other crap going on in my life as well.  Not that it’s all crap – honestly, most of my life is good, great even.  But one doesn’t write about only the good stuff, do they?  If that were the case we wouldn’t have some of the greatest writers and stories.

 

But I digress.

 

I suppose the reason why I haven’t written about Bali, why I “can’t” write about Bali is because so many of my feelings about it haven’t processed yet.  This was a trip like no other, in so many ways.  I hope to start processing them and writing about it soon.  I didn’t even write in my journal while I was gone (except twice) which is slightly annoying, but I also don’t write unless I have to.  (And I wonder why I can’t be a “writer” for a living.)  The spirit didn’t move me.  Or I avoided the spirit, which is the most likely answer.

 

I do know this: like when I returned from Thailand last year, I feel that a shift is occurring.  Like something is physically manifesting itself inside of me.  A change is afoot.  Or something like that.  Of course I have no idea what it is, but I also hope that it happens soon.  I’ve been waiting a year since Thailand – I wonder if my body just forgot that something was supposed to happen.  But now I feel ready – emotionally, physically, spiritually ready for what comes next.  Bring it.