If you had told me two years ago that my life would be what it is today, I would have called you a liar and a loon. My life was absolutely turned upside down with the detrimental autoimmune diagnoses that I received. I lost my mind for about 6 months and tested the boundaries of every relationship around me… especially my marriage. I was a monster and it was, indeed, a terrifying sight.
I was in a dark place for so long that nobody really thought that I was ever going to come out of it… including myself. I was so riddled with fear and anxiety over the unknown that I had basically checked out of my life. I refused to see the doctors and specialists that my newly diagnosed conditions required. I didn’t take the medications that I needed. I refused to talk to anybody. I didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything. It was as if my life was already over and I was just waiting around to die.
After a year I finally went to a therapist and let me tell you… that was the best decision ever. Just having someone to talk to that was not emotionally involved in my life was a game changer. I know it’s still one of those subjects that isn’t talked about that much, but it needs to be. The mental health stigma needs to cease to exist. There is nothing wrong with going to a therapist or counselor or whatever. Having a therapist is the number one reason that I was able to walk out of that darkness and start living my life again, and yes… I’m still seeing her.
When I was first diagnosed, I was in the middle of a life-changing weight loss battle and I was winning. I had lost 111 pounds and 16 sizes. I was training for a 5k race with my baby brother and I was in the best shape of my life. I was finally happy and had good self-esteem. I loved myself and the life that I was building. My diagnoses hit me so hard that I never ran again. I barely take walks now, even though I still try to get out once in a while. As soon as I was diagnosed, my self-esteem took a turn for the worse and I suddenly felt like all of the pain that I was feeling on the inside could be seen on the outside. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with in my life and I would not wish it on my worst enemy. I am, however, filled with gratitude for all of the lessons that this autoimmune journey has brought to me.
I am a much different person today. Where I was hyper-focused on my weight loss journey back then, today I’m focused on all-around health rather than just diet and exercise. I have come to realize that this is much more important, especially with my medical conditions. I had a really bad habit of pushing myself way too hard, and I have definitely learned to rest more and work smarter rather than harder. I know my limitations and I adhere to them.
Before this journey began, I was quick to anger and always ready for a fight. I would fuss and fight over the smallest things. I had a lot of unresolved issues and I let that get in the way in so many areas of my life. Once I was diagnosed, I learned to calm down. I was originally told that I had ten years left on my liver, and suddenly the little irritations and frustrations just weren’t worth fighting over anymore. The big picture became clearer and much more important things take precedence now.
I now cherish time with my family rather than viewing it as an obligation. I spend my time making memories with my kids instead of worrying about other menial tasks. We spend time baking goodies, watching television and now they are even learning to crochet! My days are filled with much less stress and much more happiness. For the first time in two years, I would say that I am happy. And that is something that I never would have dreamed of being able to say.
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