• Dani

My Hashimoto’s healing journey: 5 years on

Photo by Ashley Batz on Unsplash

Five years ago, I was at my darkest and lowest point. My body had said ‘no’ after years of crying out to me that my life needed to change. With a physical manifestation of autoimmune disease. It got to the point where food allergies were so bad, and I had such nervous system dysfunction - I was stuck in a chronic stress response. My body was always responding to ‘danger’ and literally began ‘breaking down’. To make matters worse, the conventional medical system was extremely unsupportive - they didn’t have any answers and most of the time gave me medications and suggestions that made things even worse. One ‘specialist’ even told me specifically not to try anything ‘holistic’ or get any testing done outside of what my allopathic physician recommends. She even told me to keep my standard beige sugary diet the same. But at the same time I was rapidly losing weight, still couldn’t eat foods without having reactions and I was just ‘turned away’ and ‘left to it’. There was absolutely no ‘duty of care’ and no compassion. It was cold and heartless.

My whole life was falling apart around me because of my health. Now I really do understand the phrase ‘health is your greatest wealth’. Without your health, you really do have nothing. I now know that health is the foundation on which we build the rest of our lives.

Back then, I didn’t have much knowledge about alternative medicine, holistic health and lifestyle medicine. I thought that conventional medicine was all there was and if my physician told me ‘there was nothing we can do’ then that was my fate. It painted a very bleak picture of what my future was going to be. It was really disempowering and a very cold, narcissistic approach to ‘healthcare’.

It was a very traumatic time trying to get a diagnosis. I needed to at least know what I am dealing with so that I can work towards healing that specific thing. I went from physician to physician, specialist to specialist, my body was violated with numerous cameras and scanners. And still, after all this, they would look at me blankly.

The stress that this put on - not only me - but my partner, was huge. Our whole life felt like it was crumbling. He didn’t know how to help me and this put a huge strain on our relationship.

At my lowest point, where I didn’t feel like living anymore, I had an awakening. Something inside me just found strength. I realised that no one was going to get me out of this. But I could. I could at least TRY. This is when I had the inspiration to look at holistic health and my nutritionist actually pointed me in the right direction to get a full thyroid panel done. My physician had completed shrugged off and ignored me whenever I mentioned hypothyroidism. It was never ‘related’ and had ‘nothing to do with it’. I started advocating for my health, didn’t take no for an answer, challenged my physicians, requested the right tests and voila - I got an accurate diagnosis. It wasn’t hypothyroidism, it was Hashimoto’s - an autoimmune disease that affects the thyroid gland. This is a completely different ‘kettle of fish’ to just hypothyroidism.

Now as much as I was relieved and so glad I had finally got a diagnosis, I had to move through the acceptance and grief of being told ‘its a long-term condition’. I also had to move through the hurt and anger of ‘how did it get to this point at such a young age?’ And ‘how could the physicians and my caregivers have missed it?’. My body was still in a huge mess, and it felt like a huge mountain to climb getting myself out of it. If I wanted any chance of getting better (and preventing life threatening situations from developing as the disease progresses)— I would have to go down the holistic route. There were so many lifestyle interventions I would have to make. I would have to overhaul my entire life - it felt so overwhelming. Everything I had ever known had been turned upside down. I felt like a little child, lost and afraid. I knew deep down that in order to embark on this challenge of climbing this mountain, I needed to get myself strong enough. I just knew I couldn’t make it otherwise, and that strength inside me - that lion’s roar told me that I was going to fight for my life. And no-one was going to tell me otherwise.

This is when I got into self-help - I would listen to podcasts, audiobooks and fill my mind with positivity. I knew that if I was going to make it to the top of that mountain, it was essential that I changed my mindset.

But on this path of improving my mindset, it opened up another ‘can of worms’ for me. I realised that every time I made progress with my mindset and therefore calming my nervous system, I would be dragged back down by some sort of family drama/chaos. This would then set off my ‘fight-or-flight’ response and because my nervous system was malfunctioning (now I know due to trauma), it wouldn’t be able to switch off.

It opened my eyes to the family dynamic and how I was feeling being in those environments and conversations.

The problem was - as soon as my nervous system was stuck in fight-or-flight - that was it. I would get a full blown autoimmune flare up episode and I was unable to eat or function for weeks afterwards.

What was I to do? All of my set-backs were being triggered by being in contact with my family.

I made the painful and difficult decision almost 4 years ago to take space away from them, in order to fully focus on my healing. Staying in the dynamic and staying sick and ill wasn’t going to help them - and it certainly wasn’t going to help me or my partner! I couldn’t stay sick just to keep others feeling more comfortable. It was my body and I was experiencing horrendous symptoms. It felt like hell sometimes. They didn’t need to deal with those symptoms. It was me who had to try and live with them. I first tried implementing boundaries and even requesting and booking family counselling with a specific member, but unfortunately they clearly weren’t ready for this type of work. I had to accept this. This was heart-breaking for me at the time, as I felt as if they didn't care enough about our relationship. They wanted it to stay the same, but the same wasn't healthy for me. Unfortunately at that time, there wasn't any middle ground.

The truth is, in making this decision to take space away, I have been able to get my health and wellbeing to where it is today. But it doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. It doesn’t mean that I don’t grieve them.

Since then, I have done so much healing. Healing trauma and inner child work has been the most powerful. I have done so much nervous system healing in order to help me regulate it, so that if I am in front of a trigger, I can bring myself back to the present, rather than have a full-blown panic attack and autoimmune flare up. It is something I continue to work on each day. I am so much wiser, stronger and healthier. I have cultivated compassion and can see why people behave the way they do, even though it still doesn’t take the pain away. However I have firm and strong boundaries now and I have made a commitment to my inner child - to allow her to express her feelings and needs. I have also made the commitment to practice conscious and open communication - it is so healing for relationships. It is also something I work at each day.

I woke up to the truth that keeping myself small and sick isn’t helping anybody. This whole ‘self-sacrifice’ programming that we’ve all learned from society is absolute BS. We don’t help anybody sacrificing ourself and our Soul. It just creates more pain for everybody’s sake. We feel resentful if we are having to sacrifice ourself for others - and that resentment is being held in our body. The other person can also feel it, on an energetic level, even if they aren’t necessarily ‘sensitive’ to energies. It’s not exactly the best foundation for a healthy, nourishing relationship.

I also woke up to the truth that we can’t help someone who is in a bad place, by putting ourselves in that bad place too.

It’s like if someone is drowning in a strong current, we can’t help them by drowning ourselves with them. We can hold out a float to them from either our own float or a boat - and it’s up to them to hold on or not. We can’t force them to hold on, otherwise we may get knocked off our own float, and then we’d both drown.

What is the point of us both drowning? For what? To be a martyr? To say ‘oh I sacrificed myself for this person, I am such a good person’? If the person truly does not want to hold on to the float I am holding out, then I cannot be held responsible for their decision.

I am not responsible for anybody’s actions, thoughts, feelings, emotions but my own.

We are all adults and we have free will to make decisions daily.

We decide to go onto someone’s blog and instagram account and to read their posts. We decide if we want to gossip about them and twist the wording to other family members. We decide if we want to get triggered by somebody’s words on their instagram page and make it into a drama. We decide if we want to take our emotions out on others and punish them for being happy. We are accountable for our actions. No one else is ‘making’ us do anything or ‘making’ us feel any way.

The moment we take responsibility for our whole life is the moment that healing and changes can take place. Until then, we are holding ourselves back in the ‘victim’ trap of ‘poor me’, ‘that person needs to stop speaking their truth on their instagram page because it is offending me.’

We are all responsible for our own lives - and our state of health. It is a tough pill to swallow. But once you’ve swallowed it, and digested it, it will set you free.

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