I’ll never forget the phone call I received at 8 am the morning after my graduation ceremony. If I was not awake at that time, I was definitely awake after they hit me with “you have severe hypothyroidism and you will be on medication for the rest of your life. Take the pill once a day, every morning, 30 minutes before a meal. The medication will be ready at your pharmacy on file within 2 hours.”
Talk about a wake-up call.
So I cried, researched what hypothyroidism was, cried some more, researched some more, and kept on crying. The thought of being on a daily medication for the rest of my life scared me.
Now, you needed to hear this background because the start of my health journey was filled with sadness and fear. At one point, I was so fed up with feeling sorry for myself that I decided enough was enough. A switch flipped inside me. I was on a mission to feel like a “normal, healthy” person and be present for my family and loved ones.
These are the 7 main things I learned along the way.
1. Forgive Yourself
Remember, it is not entirely your fault that you’re living with *insert whatever disease name here*. It is a combination of genetics, nutrition, lifestyle and just plain fate.
Now, sure, you live with an autoimmune disease but, do not sit around being hard on yourself. You need to accept that this is your life now and put that warrior armor on and go to war.
Through my time researching the ins and outs of disease’s root causes, a thing or two rubbed off on me: Disease is already in your genetics. Now, it's up to you whether it will present itself in your lifetime or not. You manage what goes in and out of your body and ultimately that circles back to what will be expressed in your genetic code.
2. Wrap Yourself in Endless Knowledge
The best thing you can do for yourself is research. Building your own perspective in this time of readily available information is so important. People will put endless amounts of content out with their own perspective and, sometimes, misleading or false information.
Do your research, go through lab studies and medical research both from western and eastern medicine, use a search engine that does not block out certain perspectives, views, or articles. (I still use Google occasionally, but I lean in mostly on DuckDuckGo). Learn what the disease means, the root cause, and how people have found healing or relief. Learn to read lab work. This is especially important because you do not want a doctor making you feel like your blood work came back better or worse than it really did. This removes all the sugar coating. Research your Doctors and their perspective. WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN. There is so much information that comes at you that, yes, you will forget some.
3. Build an Action Plan
Okay so now what? You have the knowledge but, what to do with it all? Put it into action. Understand what are the first steps you will take and what medical team you will build. How will you get to that end goal? Most Importantly, you will hit bumps in the road when it comes to your action plan but, keep going. Don’t lose motivation. Keep pushing.
Let positivity rein. Yes.
Down to a cellular level, your body reacts to the emotions you are carrying. For example, have you ever had an uneasy stomach when you're worried or anxious? My point exactly. Bodies absorb the emotions that we are feeling day and night. If you let negative emotions get the best of you, it can become dangerously taxing. As they say, nothing comes easy. Maintaining a positive mindset is extremely important to keep your cells working at optimal function.
Whatever helps you, do it. Just stay positive. Also — Remove all the Negative Nancy’s in your life. If you are a Negative Nancy reading this. . STOP being negative. A) Nobody likes negativity and B) you’re mostly affecting yourself.
5. Build a Medical Care Team That Actually Cares About Your Well Being - And Not Just Their Pockets
This is probably the most crucial step. So let me give you some back story (again).
Once upon a time, I paid attention to everything my primary care doctor said. I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism (wrong disease), given Levothyroxine (wrong medication) and not referred to an endocrinologist. Anything sound wrong here? Well, yes, everything. I probably cycled through 4 endocrinologists before I found my “perfect match”. Then I found out I had Hashimoto’s, I was on the wrong medication and dosage for my body, I had a reproductive issue going on, and the disease was so advanced it had begun to affect my pituitary gland.
I wish finding this perfect match would have solved all my issues but there were still so many root causes to tackle. At this point, I still felt HORRIBLE. Kid you not, I do not wish the symptoms of living with Hashimoto’s on anyone. I kept researching . . . and researching . . . and researching.
I am now working with a primary care doctor, endocrinologist, hematologist, gynecologist, dermatologist, all the “gist” of the medical industry, an alternative medicine doctor, chiropractor and massage therapist. I know this sounds like a lot. However it is my perfect medical team and it has gotten me to feel like a normal, healthy human.
*Minor note: I have gotten to a point in my health where I now only lean in on my endocrinologist, alternative medicine doctor, chiropractor and massage therapist.
Your team may look different than mine. What counts is that you are making steps towards getting answers and feeling normal and healthy again.
6. SUPPORT TEAM (yes, all caps)
Whether it's family, friends, significant others, or pets. Whatever you feel supports you mentally, emotionally and physically. There will be challenges along your journey. There will be times that you feel like giving up. There will be times that you feel like you do not have the answer. There will be times where you hit a plateau. There will be times you cry out of pure frustration. There will be times you will want to give in to temptation (umm . . Gluten). There will be times where you become that Negative Nancy. Just know that no one is perfect but, a support system will make it a hell of a lot easier.
Oh, patience. I don't have any. But, I learned to be patient. This disease did not come to you overnight, so, do not expect it to go away overnight. The best thing my alternative medicine doctor told me was, “ I have had patients who go into remission in 6 weeks, 6 months, some not until years later, and some never. But the point is not to be stressed about going into remission, the point is to be feeling healthy and being able to go about life without having these symptoms weighing you down.” At that moment is when I let go of the obsession to going into remission and let my body feel everything, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. I let time, and the higher power, take care of the rest.
I hope you take this and put it into action. I am wishing you the best in your journey. Always feel free to connect on social media and send us a message. We are here to support each other.