Let me preface this by saying that hindsight can be a wonderful thing. Five years after first being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease I can recognise how this outwardly negative experience has actually changed me for the better. When things come along in your life that at first glance appear to be wholly negative it’s possible that a perspective shift and a little time can change that initial impression. The question is how can we create that shift? Then how can we create that reframe without the added benefit of time?
How about we consider that the unplanned event that looks, feels and tastes awful could actually be the making of you. It feels strange to embrace it. People might think that you’re a bit odd. They might be muttering about ‘toxic positivity’… Let them. If they consider that making the most of what life hands you is somehow poisonous, that’s up to them. You aren’t going to change their world view… only they have the power to do that.
Here’s an example:
In 2017 I closed my gluten free bakery business. I felt like a failure. I felt terrible for letting down both my customers and employees. Working 60+ hours each week triggered an autoimmune disease for me (cue Functional Medicine mantra: Genes load the gun, environment pulls the trigger). It wasn’t just the long hours it was also managing a house and family with a husband who worked away every week. My children weren’t the kind that just come home after school and do their own thing, I’d be on the road every night getting to them cubs, scouts, rugby, hockey, athletics, singing… I’d regularly wake up at 3 am pondering how to create the perfect vegan salted caramel, or dairy free ganache. When your sleep starts being disrupted regularly then your health is going to be on a downward spiral.
While my body had started to gently wave a white flag to get my attention, I did what any working mother would do and ignored it. I was really enjoying the creativity of my work. I loved supplying fancy hotels with gluten free and vegan bakes, it was amazing to bake for weddings. I liked the kudos of winning national awards. The all-female team from grannys to work-experience girls was brilliant to be part of. It was only when I took my foot off the gas during a five day family vacation that I realised that it was unsustainable.
At that moment when I recognized the need for an exit strategy I was also agreeing to give a baking demo on stage in front of hundreds of people at a food festival! Talk about being in denial…
However as a pragmatist I did start to create my exit plan which enabled me to close the doors six months later. I acknowledge that I was on the path to burnout, and perhaps worse given the autoimmune disease that decided to make its presence known.
Okay, I understand what you’re thinking, none of this sounds good… how can any of this be good?
If we fast forward to today I’m in really good shape both physically and mentally. I’m heading into peri-menopause with a spring in my step. I work out regularly, I walk with friends and/or my dogs. Through being unwell with autoimmune flares I’ve figured out what my limits are. I know how important improving your gut health is and what stress management techniques work for me. I use nutrition and other lifestyle habits to keep Hashimoto’s in remission.
While this is great for me it’s also good for you. Because I’ve been in that position where it felt like my life was spiraling out of my control. I’ve been teetering on the edge of burnout. I’ve had to learn the hard way that I can’t do everything, well not all at once at least. I didn’t realise how unwell I was until I started to become healthy again. Right now I’m in the best shape of my adult life and (weirdly) I have an autoimmune disease to thank for that.
Thanks to an autoimmune disease
It’s a bit like losing weight. Now I consider myself to be in ‘maintenance’ mode which is a lot more straightforward than creating all of those habit changes in the first place. If you need support in finding the gift or opportunity within your personal situation please get in touch. https://practicalhealthcoach.uk/how-to-get-in-touch/