LV Yoga, Fareham
Chronic illness is no joke, but when you live with chronic illness that’s unable to be diagnosed, suddenly you feel like you are the joke.
For 59 years, my Dad lived with chronic illness that was undiagnosable, and subsequently, untreatable. And unfortunately, I inherited many similar ailments to which he suffered. Now, this isn’t Luke’s pity party! I’m writing this blog to share with you my journey of undiagnosed chronic illness, because it needs to be talked about. For many, it so often goes unnoticed or simply gets dismissed by others, with many not even considering some diagnosis’ such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or Fibromyalgia to even be real. And with mindsets like that, those who aren’t diagnosed, like myself, end up trying to convince themselves that what they’re feeling and experiencing is not real at all, and that it’s all just psychological. And we go into denial mode, supressing the pain and stress until it’s simply too late to do anything about it. Then you die a 59, from a disease that no doctor can tell you how it is contracted, and you’ve wasted your life feeling like crap everyday, just like my Dad did. I do not want this for myself. I want to learn from his journey and I want to go further than he did.
So here I am, laying it all out there to start a conversation, in the hope that someone can resonate with this and build the confidence to speak up about it, to share their experiences and to find others who can offer their support too.
Diagnosis and treatment don’t just come from medical professionals. I am a firm believer in holistic and natural therapies and remedies. In fact, I choose these over western medicine time and time again. However, this doesn’t mean I don’t consult with my Doctor, I’m just yet to see any form of diagnosis or health improvement. And after a combined 94 years of seeking answers between myself and my Dad, my faith in western medicine is wearing thin. In the last 5 years or so, I have delved into the world of natural health. I regularly see a systematic kinesiologist, soft tissue and remedial massage therapist and an acupuncturist. All have been successful in their own way, giving me results that drugs have never. However, I still have chronic illness that I can’t get the bottom of and I’m unsure where to turn next, and to be truthful, I can’t currently afford the amount of treatment required to keep on top of it all.
Food definitely has a massive impact on how I feel. Unfortunately I have terrible will power when it comes to cake and ice cream!! I’ve tried gluten free, lactose free, sugar free, juicing, detox diets, paleo diet…you name it, I’ve tried it. Again, they all had varying degrees of success but nothing that’s been a sure fix. Juicing is probably the one thing that made a substantial difference. I juiced daily for about 7 years, but the last few years my body has been unable to accept fruit and some vegetables, which has made juicing something that I simply can’t stomach any more.
I’ve tried supplements, sometimes I take so many supplements I feel like I rattle when I walk! Again, some success but nothing substantial.
I talk of this often, but can never remember the exact reference…there was once a doctor who said if he could prescribe any one thing to his patients it would be 10 minutes of deep breathing per day. He estimated it would reduce his caseload by half. I’ve recently started my 500 hour yoga teacher training, and my teacher said that she does 10 rounds of Kapalabhati (the breath of fire) every morning, and she swears it’s why she’s rarely sick. So perhaps there is something in this?
Yoga has been a massive help to both discovering illness through connecting with my body, and learning what does and doesn’t work for my body, through physical movement, nutrition and spiritual practice. A doctor actually told me to stop yoga. I’m so grateful that I’m too stubborn to listen! Without yoga, I honestly don’t know what state my body and mind would be in. Now, don’t get me wrong, too much yoga can also play havoc with my body too! But the true beauty of yoga is that it teaches you how to listen to your body and to know when enough is enough. And right now, my body is telling me to slow the F down!
If you come to my classes regularly, you may have already noticed me honouring my body in this way. I have begun increasing my verbal instructions and reducing the amount I physically join in with in the class. As a bonus, this is giving me more time to observe people and correct posture and movement. I have hired a personal assistant to manage my administration and bookings, allowing me more personal free time and time to spend with my husband and kids. I have also booked a holiday! Whoop whoop! It may only be 3 nights in Devon, but believe me, both my mind and body are going to be SO grateful for it. So I’m taking positive steps, but none of this is going to fix the problem, and without diagnosis it feels like I’m stabbing in the dark trying to find my wellness.
Google takes you down a scary path of self diagnosis, so let’s not go there!
With all of the above, I’m looking at the physical and trying to find an outside solution to fix my ailments. But what if my mind could fix it? We all know the impact that both stress and subconscious beliefs can have on our wellbeing. Perhaps it is all in my head after all!
I know from my yoga practice that meditation can have a huge impact on both physical and mental health. And that doesn’t necessarily mean I need to sit with my legs crossed and float off into the ether at every sunrise! I certainly struggle to find dedicated time for a purposeful meditation on a daily basis. But by simply acknowledging moments of stillness throughout the day is a massive step towards a regular meditation practice. Also, yoga is a form of meditation. It’s a moving meditation, just as walking, running or even doing the hoovering can be! Anything that distracts the mind from the monkey chatter can be classed as a form of meditation. And just recognising that has made a huge difference.
I also know that there is great value in affirmations and EFT (tapping). Both of which I’ve used and still use regularly. The power of our words and the subconscious really can change our physical body.
And yet still, none of these amazing things give me a diagnosis or any real idea of what the issue is and what I’m working with. So it’s over to you…what are your experiences of chronic illness and what has/hasn’t worked for you?
“Alone we are strong, together we are stronger”