If you're doing everything you can to get well, but still aren't feeling how you want, it's not that there's some magical healing secret you haven't yet figured out. There isn't a perfect diet / exercise / healing approach right around the corner yet never close enough to actually grab.
Rather, the problem is most likely that whatever tool you're using -- whatever diet, product, or stress management technique you're trying -- simply isn't doing what it's supposed to do. Not because the tool doesn't work or because you're doing something wrong, but because there are certain conditions in which some tools simply *cannot* work to their fullest potential.
I call these conditions "hidden stressors" and uncovering which one could be affecting your efforts is an important piece of puzzling together your unique, personalized path to health.
These hidden stressors may be the reason WHY your tools aren't doing what you "hired" them to do. (Aka why they're not doing what you expect and want them to do: leave you feeling better.) They might be the reason why you're not actually decreasing the amount time you spend in chronic stress and increasing the amount of time your body's optimized to do what it innately does best: heal.
It's interesting writing this story 15 years later. I was a teenager when I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease and eating disorder and so I've always had "teenage brain" when it comes to the facts and specifics. It's like I've always had my own interpretation of the events that unfolded over that year... without too much questioning of what was true and what was not. And so, as I look back at the incredible book my mom kept with everything from appointment dates to test results to conversations with providers, it's uncomfortable to say the least.
It's this out of body experience where you are looking at something you experienced with absolutely no recognition or remembrance of the experience itself. I guess I held onto the big meanings I made of the events and let go of the rest. (And I'm no therapist, but I imagine this might be quite normal when you go through anything that could be perceived as trauma?) Whether it was too painful, or I determined certain facts not important, or it's simply a case of poor memory on my part, I don't know. But as I read through this book my mom kept, I felt unsettled and uneasy as I wish I could tell that little teenager exactly what I know now. (You know, that we made it and we're fine and we're really, really proud of what we've done with the cards we were dealt.)
Maybe I'm feeling uncomfortable telling this story because the events themselves are uncomfortable. Or maybe, I'm feeling shame I didn't realize I still held from the way things played out. Or maybe even, it's embarrassment or disappointment or better yet the feeling that I disappointed those around me. It doesn't matter what I'm feeling now or why I'm feeling it because what I do know is that sharing this story is important. It's important because it's shaped every belief I now hold about health and wellness and it's important because I think it might be able to shape some of yours, too.
Over the years, as I've made my way in and out of doctor's offices, I've heard a thing or two about stress management for autoimmune disease and chronic illness. Specifically, I've heard a thing or two about reducing said stress and, I don't know about you, but sometimes that call-to-action leaves me wanting to build a panic room and never come out.
Because as experts continue to study stress and its relationship to autoimmune disease and chronic illness, we as patients keep wondering how we're supposed to reduce the ever-growing amount of triggers within our lives.
Sure, stress management for autoimmune disease and chronic illness is cool in theory. And we're totally down for the concept of it all. But how does it become practical? What's REALLY required to help us feel better? How much stress do we actually have to manage?