Post by foundation contributor: Ilena Bickley
I am no expert or psychiatrist or anyone to really give any advice. I am one who suffers from a few chronic illnesses that leave me debilitated at times, so I feel like I have some good advice to give. Take it as you will.
I have been battling Addison’s Disease since 2013 and one thing it has taught me is that, I do not listen to my body…Not at all.
I have tried and I always feel like I got a handle on it, but in reality, I am nowhere near close to “listening.” Don’t get me wrong, at times I do. I do really good and I think that is where that little voice sneaks in and says “Hey!! Look at us doing so good, lets push ourselves and see what happens.” I don’t like that voice. That voice has led me to many ER visits. That voice has made me miss out on a lot of my kids activities.
Sometimes I feel like “Addison” got a little lonely, so she decided to call on a few other friends and throw a party in my body. Only it’s not a fun party. For the diseases, I am sure they are having a good ole’ time, but for me, the one who has to house them…Not so much. It’s like trying to manage a frat house on your own, but you are the one who has all the rules that are working against you. You can’t kick any of them out, they keep you up at all hours, they do things to you that make you so sick you want to throw up…NOT FUN!!
The past couple months I have really stepped back and looked at who I have become and all the ways I have had to adapt. I feel I have done so much to try and help manage my pain and fatigue. I have tried ways to lessen the bad days and try to gain more of the good, but you know what…I have failed so many times….. Or so I thought.
The one thing that I never got the hang of was listening to what my body was trying to tell me. I always saw it as the enemy that was trying to kill me off. I had to step back and look at things differently. Maybe my body isn’t trying to kill me off. Maybe my body is giving me signals, signs, warnings, that I should be listening too.
What would happen if I actually took the time to stop hating it and start listening to it? What if I were to love this body. Treat it with respect. Listen like I would to a friend. What would happen then?
So that is exactly what I did. I started to treat my body like a friend, someone who means the world to me. Do you know what I discovered?? A lot more than I thought I would that’s for sure. Now, I am not going to say I am better or it has “cured” me, but I have been in a much better place and that is where a lot of healing takes place. Acceptance is the key. We can’t change our situations. There is no cure or quick fix. We are stuck in these bodies, so why not show them some love. Why not listen to them.
I went back to watching what I eat closely. Not eating to many things together. That way I was able to track which foods were making me feel like crap. I looked into the AIP diet and what foods might be causing some flares. I loved the WFPB diet, so I am still playing with that. I don’t eat a lot of meat…Rarely… Maybe 2-3 times a month. I cut out nightshades (which was really hard to do). No more almond M&Ms or sweets that I don’t make myself (besides ice cream-I have found one that I do well with). I still try to avoid dairy as much as possible (still only having that about 2-3 times a months as well). Eggs and me get along just fine as long as they are fresh from a chickens butt (which is good since we now have 5 chickens). I can no longer have artichokes and that broke my heart. So, I am learning from and listening to my body and in turn, we have been doing pretty good.
Sleep and me still battle, but I do what I can to show him love. We meditate together. We read or listen to audible. I just try to relax, so he can relax and we can peacefully co-exist. Sometimes we fight, but for the most part, we are getting along much better.
Exercise is a bit tricky. Since putting on 40lbs, it was really hard to look at myself. I have tried so many things and I think I was just to much in my head about all the things I couldn’t do and didn’t want to listen to all the things I could do. So, I embraced what I could do and started to enjoy that. I embraced what I looked like and started to tell myself I am beautiful. I have been going to yoga with my youngest son the past week and I only do what I can and focus on the fact that I am actually doing some movement and bonding with my son.
Again, I am not cured by any means and I still have some bad days. For the past week though, I have had a pretty good week. This means that I only had slight tremors 2 days this week that didn’t manifest into something bigger. I had only 1 headache this week. I was able to make it through a whole week without needing a nap (resting-yes, nap-no.) I only had one flare from something I ate and was able to figure out what it was and eliminate it for the future. So this might not sound like a good week to most, but to me, it was good and I am looking forward to more like it.
I hope that you can find a way to look at your situation differently. I hope that you can start to love and listen to your body. We only have this one and it’s better to love than hate.