Being diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disease can feel like your life is being flipped upside down and inside out. It can feel like you are kissing your old way of life goodbye, as well as your future dreams and goals. Here is the thing about feelings though, they cannot always be trusted. Your new life with autoimmune disease can be beautiful. Maybe life will not be the way you imagined, but it can be beautiful none the less. You are the author of your own story. You can create new dreams and goals. To help you get started, here are 5 ways to live well with autoimmune disease.
Live On Purpose, With Purpose
Even before my autoimmune disease diagnosis, I used to feel like I was getting knocked around by life. Tossed to and fro in the seas of responsibility – kids activities, work, housework, marriage, homeschooling, and so on. My life lacked day to day purpose, and I was simply trying to keep my head above water.
Losing my health and being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease was a wake-up call for me to take charge of my life. I started realizing that life is not just something that happens to me, but that I can live life on purpose, with purpose. For me, it was a total game changer. My days are smoother, I feel healthier, and I find more joy.
Everything you do in your life, aim to do it on purpose, with purpose. Here are just a few examples:
- Hungry? Choose foods that will help heal your body, not hurt your body.
- Tired? Schedule a power nap this afternoon, or put the kids to bed early so you can get a little extra sleep.
- Muscles tense, but need to get ready for the day? Multi task – take an Epsom Salt bath with Lavender to ease tension.
- Stressed? Take 1-5 minutes and do some deep breathing or meditating. A little goes a long way.
- Feeling overwhelmed, but need to exercise? Get outside and take a walk, or do some yoga.
Develop a growth mindset
Another total game changer for me was when I turned from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. What is the difference? A fixed mindset is basically believing you are who you are, and you cannot change, or do not want to change. A growth mindset is believing you are consistently presented with opportunities to learn, grow, improve, and evolve.
“The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”Carol S. Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
I choose to look at autoimmune disease as an incredible opportunity to learn, grow, and improve.
I’ve found autoimmune disease holds the opportunity to:
- learn to eat clean
- study autoimmune disease
- develop resilience
- face fears
- find courage
- find new dreams
- set new goals
- find a way to help others based on your experience
The opportunities to learn, grow, and improve are endless! The sky is the limit! Your life is not over. It is just beginning. Whether you are 20 years old, 40 years old, 60 years old, or 80 years old, you are embarking on what can be an incredible journey of learning, growth, connection, and empowerment!
Keep an Eternal Perspective
It is so easy to be consumed by autoimmune disease symptoms. The fatigue. The fevers. The brain fog. The muscle pain. The joint pain. The anxiety. The insomnia. And so on. It can truly be hard to think outside of the physical and emotional symptoms. One thing that has helped me is keeping an eternal perspective.
My faith comforts me as I believe that we are all children of God, and that we are here on earth with an opportunity to be tested and tried. To experience the good and the bad. I believe that we are given “opportunities” to grow and to become closer to our Father in Heaven, and our Savior. Those “opportunities” often come in the form of trials and difficulties. Not because our Heavenly Father does not love us, but because He does. Keeping an eternal perspective helps me understand that my loving Heavenly Father blessed me with the experience of having an autoimmune disease so I can learn and grow. So I can help others, and try to be more than my diagnosis. Whatever your faith is, whatever your beliefs look like, I encourage you to keep the “big picture” in mind, and find comfort in your long term perspective.
Oh boy, was I bad at this. I’m talking terrible. I lived with my autoimmune disease symptoms for years before I found my voice and learned to speak up about the way I was feeling. My lack of communication accomplished nothing but me getting sicker. For reals.
I plead with you to communicate with your spouse, your family, and your loved ones. I understand that you do not want to appear weak or unable to do things. Let me assure you, you are not weak! The fact that you live with your symptoms every day and push through proves how strong you are! Here’s the thing though, if you keep pushing and pushing and pushing, your body will eventually give out. I know that, because mine did. I pushed too hard for too many years until my body said “no more.” Please learn from my mistake, and learn to communicate before you are forced to. Having the courage to tell your loves ones what is going on, and what you need to do about it, makes you strong. Not weak.
Connect with Others
To say that living with an autoimmune disease can feel lonely is an understatement. Been there. Felt that. Still occasionally do. What helps me? Connecting with others who are experiencing similar things. I do not know very many people in my life with autoimmune diseases, and even less who actually want to talk about them; however, I discovered many people online who are living with autoimmune disease, like me, and looking for connection. For sisterhood. For community. One way I found them was by starting my @wellnessunraveled Instagram account, and searching for hashtags like #hashimotos, #autoimmunedisease, #autoimmune protocol, #aip, and so on. I have some incredible friends on Instagram who I have never met in person, but whose friendships I value greatly. They uplift me, inspire me, and help me in my efforts to live well with an autoimmune disease.
If you do not already have one, I encourage you to find a tribe. I would be honored to be part of it! I would love to cheer you on! Find me on Instagram, on Facebook, leave a comment here, or email me. I love to connect.
There are many more ways to live with an autoimmune disease, and I would love to hear how you choose to live well with autoimmune disease.