Living with an autoimmune disease can feel like consistently fighting a battle. For me, and many others living with an autoimmune disease, the battle began before we even realized we were being attacked from within. The battle started slowly at first, then gradually over the course of years, grew more intense and fierce until I found myself in an all-out war. I had no idea how I got into this war, no idea who my opponent was, and no idea how to win. When I finally found myself too injured from the battle to function in my day to day life, I knew I had no choice but to retreat from the life I was used to living. I allowed myself to take time to heal, to take a break from the day to day tasks that I could no longer physically accomplish, and to ask for help. Allowing myself time to heal my autoimmune disease was difficult, but vital to my wellness journey.
Retreating from my battle, although it felt like defeat at the time, ended up being the best choice I could have made. It led me to finally find answers as to what I was fighting, how I got into this war, and illuminated the path to victory. Retreating is not admitting defeat. It is not raising the white flag in surrender. It is simply seeking to find safety and refuge from the battle in order to recover, strategize, and form winning battle plans to win the war.
I know and understand my war with my autoimmune disease is long term. My battle plans are not set in stone, but are regularly evolving. I am committed to continue to learn all I can about nutrition, wellness, and healing so I continually feel confident my battle plans are the best they can be. During unexpected autoimmune flares, I know how and when to retreat, whether the duration of my retreat is a day, a week, a month, or longer.
Just as each individual’s experience with an autoimmune disease is unique, each retreat is unique. Listening to my body, following my intuition, and trusting my Heavenly Father helps me to know what my personal retreat needs to look like. Although everyone’s healing journey will look differently, here is a peek into some key choices I made when I was at my lowest point, and decided to take time out to allow my body to heal:
- Being open and honest with my husband about my health struggles and just how bad my body was feeling.
- Giving my body a break from my intense workout routine and replacing it with gentle walking and gentle yoga when I was physically able.
- Getting out of my comfort zone and seeing a naturopath to find answers and point me in the right direction.
- Taking a step back from volunteering at church for a period of time.
- Allowing myself to rest and take naps as needed.
- Learning how to cook clean, healing foods, and allowing myself time to cook.
- Taking a break from traveling for six months.
- Taking a break from homeschooling field trips for several months.
- Finding new, restful things to do as a family.
- Receiving professional help for emotional healing.
- Learning to laugh again.
- Focusing on what is truly important to me in life.
- Taking a complete break from social media for a number of months to focus on healing and my little family. After a number of months, I returned to social media, and have found an incredible, supportive, loving wellness community online.
“The real glory is being knocked to your knees and then coming back.” -Vince Lombardi
“Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.” -J.K. Rowling
“You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now, and make a brand new ending.” -James R. Sherman