Let's face it, having autoimmune disease is not an easy road. The healing path is full of hills and valleys, and even though I like to think its always linear, I have written before how the reality is much different from the fantasy!
But sometimes we tumble into a crevasse so deep, its hard to realize what just happened. For the last several weeks (more like 5 now) I have been dealing with one of the worst regressions of my autoimmune disease in probably 4 years. At first I was somewhat nonchalant about it. I had a few days of really bad symptoms, but then bounced back pretty quickly to feeling great. Then it happened again, and again and again! After a few weeks of this, I knew something was wrong because now Im spending more days in bed or on the couch than I am outside or up and about.
I think the biggest part of the healing path is mental. I go through phases of denial about my health. For example, I happily sit in denial of the affects of caffeine on my body. I went weeks recently pretending that my matcha blended tea was my new BFF. Loving the ritual, loving how it made me feel. Completely denying any fact that I was getting hooked, feeling more and more sluggish when I woke up, and that days without it were giving me headaches. So we had to break up. (BTW, I found a new morning beverage BFF - no caffeine and supportive of liver and detox pathways - Thank you Jessica at Delicious Obsessions!)
I also have a tendency to just drive through the pain. I have a fairly high pain tolerance, and I can handle quite a bit. But when I just go about life as if I don't have pain (or any other of my AI symptoms) I can get another good case of denial going! Really, I start numbing out to what my body is trying to tell me, and carry on as if nothing is wrong. Then my body rebels and pretty much forces me to take a complete day of rest!
So how does one deal with regression? I'll share with you what I am doing, in hopes that it will help some of you when you are in a deep valley or crevasse of your own.
- Admit there is regression in the first place. I know, this sounds a lot like the first step in a 12-step program, but frankly, its the starting point! You can't start to heal or start climbing you way out until you admit what might be happening. It took me a good 3 weeks before I admitted to myself that I was in full regression!
- Be kind to yourself. Even if you knowingly did things to get you into the crevasse (can we say sugar during the holidays anyone?), be kind to yourself. Meaning take time to relax, give yourself permission to need more healing.
- Clear your calendar and commitments. If you don't know by know, Im one of those that over-achieves the over-achieving! So when I feel great, its pretty much a sure bet that I have taken on too much, packed my calendar and signed up for 35 new courses to start on the new year! When I am in full AI regression, there is no room really for much other than sleeping, nourishing food and maybe some walking. Work tasks get minimized down to the absolute necessities.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Once I was able to admit there was a regression going on, I finally called my doctor. I requested additional lab work be done and reviewed those results with colleagues and my doctor. Once I had my appointment with her, immediately I started to feel better! Not only was there validation that something was wrong, but we constructed a new healing plan and actions for me to take to start to feel better! Such a relief to get some help!
- Examine your lifestyle. There are 4 key lifestyle areas that contribute to wellness: Nourishment (food), Rest (sleep), Movement (exercise), and Stress (ya know, stress!). This is a tough step mind you, I always hope that I can be a little less regimented with my lifestyle, but when I get too relaxed and let things creep in, inflammation creeps in! I had to get pretty honest with myself about these areas of my life leading up to my regression. The number one area where I was not managing well was S-T-R-E-S-S! I had fallen off the Headspace practice, taken on too many commitments, had to deal with too many negative people and stopped doing my weekly hikes in the forest. The other contributing factor was with food. I had let too much sugar and caffeine creep into my diet over the last few months. Plus I was trying to reintroduce foods from the AIP elimination. I really think that too many nuts (grain free baked goods during the holidays) were contributing to massive inflammation I was/am experiencing.
How do you deal with regression? What are your tips and tricks? Leave a comment below - would love to hear your ideas!