This weekend marks the anniversary of arguably the bravest step in my Acts of Bravery journey.
What is it? you ask.
It’s not glamorous or exciting, but it has changed my life.
This time last year, I committed to figuring out my health issues.
On this journey, the more I open up about my health, the more people say, “Me too!” Just counting it up in my head, more than half of the people I know have symptoms of something. And these are the ones that have shared. I’m betting that number is higher.
But get this. Of those people who shared, a shockingly small number have an actual diagnosis.
As a brave warrior, this is unacceptable to me. How can we live fully and follow our dreams if an undiagnosed illness keeps knocking us out?
Short answer? We can’t.
To remedy this, I compiled three brave steps to take your health back.
Step 1: Believe You’re Not a Hypochondriac
Let’s be real. Most of us have lived with our symptoms for a while. For decades, I thought incapacitating gut pain, fatigue, and joint pain was normal. And worse? Over those decades my blood panels always came back normal. Nothing was wrong.
I know I’m not the only one.
When doctors keep saying we have a clean bill of health despite our symptoms, it leads us to believe some whack-a-doo lies.
The #1 lie? It’s all in our head.
As if that chronic fatigue that feels like the flu is normal. Or that knee pain that makes walking up stairs a herculean effort is routine.
How many of you have ever felt like a hypochondriac?
Let’s strip this lie down like the layers of a rotten onion, so we can see the stark truth.
Did you know that none of these symptoms are normal:
- pain (any kind of pain, neck, shoulder, back, joint, headache, etc.)
- eye floaters
- night sweats
- chronic nightmares
- light sensitivity
- sound sensitivity
- inability to get to sleep
- inability to spring out of bed in the morning
- inability to stay asleep
- gut issues (pain, discomfort, gas)
- anger (general feeling, tend to lash out)
- Brain fog
- Memory loss
- inability to concentrate, distract easily
- feeling of holding on by a thread
- and the list keeps going
You shouldn’t just accept any one of these symptoms as a fact of life and simply live with it. And if you have multiples . . .
You see my point.
Let’s think of symptoms as our body’s alarm system. They alert us that something is wrong. You don’t have to live with that nagging fatigue. You don’t have to suck it up and try to keep up with the kids on that aching knee you never injured.
There’s a reason. Be brave. Stick up for yourself. Be diligent to get answers and solutions for your health whether physical or mental.
You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to take your symptoms seriously.
Step 2: Commit to Getting Healthy No Matter What
The biggest obstacle for me in getting well was the fear of finding out there was actually something wrong with me. If I ignored it, I could go about life pretending everything was fine.
You know, until gut pain landed me in bed for a week.
Does any of this sound familiar?
- I know something in my body just isn’t right, but what if the tests show nothing is wrong? What if it’s all in my head?
- What if I’m super sick? I don’t think I can face that.
- What if I have to change my lifestyle? I can’t add exercise into my already crazy schedule. And I don’t want to give up _______ (ice cream or my favorite chips or wheat or dairy or caffeine).
- What if my medical bills are high? My budget is tight already. I can’t in good conscience make my family sacrifice like that just for my health.
I get it. It’s scary. I lived in denial for over twenty years. Sometimes not knowing is bliss. Until WHAM! That symptom knocks you to your knees again.
And let’s be honest with ourselves, does denying the problem ever lead to a solution?
No. It doesn’t.
Let’s take this a step further. How often do those symptoms knock you down? Once a month? Twice a week? Every day?
I already said this above, but it warrants a repeat. How can you live fully and follow your dreams if your sickness knocks you out?
Will you do something for me? On the year anniversary of my decision to get healthy, will you commit to the same thing? Make a pledge. Write it out. Sign it to make it official. Then tell me about it. It would be the best anniversary present ever.
Step 3: Be the Expert In Your Health
I was having a conversation over messenger with one of my close friends. She’s been struggling with some health issues and has started the long process of trying to figure out exactly what is wrong with her.
A mutual practitioner recommended she try DLPA, an amino acid for depression, anxiety, and pain. For the article on DLPA click here. But it got me thinking. Back before my Lyme diagnosis, when I thought I was suffering from GAD (general anxiety disorder), the same practitioner prescribed me 5-HTP, also an amino acid used for depression, appetite suppressant, and sleep. DLPA worked wonders for my friend, but 5-HTP did nothing for her, while, 5-HTP helped me a ton. But how did she have the wisdom to know that my friend needed one thing and I needed another?
First, the practitioner understood that not all bodies are created the same. And, second?Though some of my friend and my symptoms were similar, some were different. The practicioner identified it and made the right call with these supplements. But this is were things get dicey—the multitude of possible underlying causes and countless number of supplements and medications to treat those symptoms. Doctors can’t possibly know the answers and intricacies of every single supplement for every single ailment. They are human after all, not gods.
This fact drove home with my Lyme diagnosis. Do you know how many Lyme protocols are out there? Yeah, me either. Because there are a TON. Due to the nature of Lyme, doctors treat the symptoms. Symptoms I have to communicate about openly and honestly. Which suddenly makes me the expert.
How does this translate to you?
Listen to your body and don’t take doctors’ advice as absolute authority. Think of them as consultants. Very knowledgeable, highly educated, and expensive consultants. We want them on our health team, but we lead that team, because we are the only ones who know our own unique bodies.
Being the expert in your own health is often an overwhelming and frustrating task. Not many of us went to school for this. But if you want to get well, you have to understand your diagnosis, research different healing protocols, and decide what’s best for your body. Maybe that’s pharmaceuticals, maybe that’s herbs and supplements, maybe its a combination of both.
That friend I mentioned earlier? At the end of our conversation she said, “The other thing this supplement has done is help me realize what I’ve been dealing with has been physically affecting my mental health. I didn’t just have a mental or character problem that needed correcting. I have hope that I’ll be my bad ass self again.”
If my friend hadn’t stepped in and decided to be an expert in her own health, she never would have seen that mutual practitioner. Which means, she never would have found the supplement to relieve her symptoms and the underlying ones she wasn’t even aware of (the ones she assumed were mental or character problems) until they were gone.
Take the steps! Seriously. Take the steps and tell me all about your journey. Like I said earlier, it will be the best anniversary present ever. You’re not alone in this. I’m excited to hear your story and be your #1 cheerleader!