I want to be totally honest with you.
I had a really rough week.
As you may or may not know I have Hashimoto’s and another autoimmune disease called ankylosing spondylitis.
And this week I had a flare up of the ankylosing spondylitis.
I feel a lot better today and I seem to have things under control.
And the reality is, I didn’t really deviate a great deal from my normal routine, but I had a flare up anyway.
And what this meant for me was a lot of low back and sacral pain. (It made it difficult to stand in one place for too long and even to sit comfortably for extended periods of time.)
And the worse part of it was that it set off a chain reaction of negative thinking that had me feeling pretty discouraged.
I felt like this was evidence that I had failed.
The good news for me is that this used to be a regular part of my life and now it’s a rare occurrence.
And this is the hard reality of autoimmunity.
Sometimes, even when you do all the right things, you can still, out of nowhere, have flare ups.
But, here’s the thing, the other side of this reality is that sometimes these things happen.
And it doesn’t make all the hard work and sacrifice you’ve put in meaningless.
It shouldn’t have any more significance than the periods of feeling great (which are far more numerous for me these days).
It was just a few days of a storm, which passed.
If I’m totally honest, there were moments when I let that storm over shadow everything else.
Here’s what helped me get back on track.
I keep a journal and I dug it out and read it and what I was reminded of was long term steady improvement and many more good than bad days.
So, with the help of that record, I was able to right the ship and reorient my thinking and realize that while I felt like crap, in the bigger picture, I have made some tremendous progress.
So, there are a couple of big takeaways here, I think.
First, this is one of the important uses for a journal that is sometimes overlooked.
It can provide balance so that you don’t get overly discouraged or overly excited about things.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes bad or unpleasant things seem to occupy more space in my head than good things.
Even though in relative terms, they are fewer and farther between, they can somehow get inflated and seem bigger than they are.
So I was able to check that and see clearly how feelings aren’t facts.
Secondly, I’m going back over the things I did that were different to try and determine if any of them could have been responsible for this flare up.
And I found a few things that, while apparently relatively minor, could be factors. (Like some slip ups in my diet, some things I’ve reintroduced recently, some slip ups in my routine – meditation, exercise, etc.)
So I am also able to recreate the lead up to this flare up and possibly learn how to better navigate it in the future.
Lastly, the biggest takeaway is that I’m here for the long haul and set backs are inevitable parts of life.
The key is to not make them bigger than they are and to learn and grow from them.
Because whether you think you are succeeding or failing on this journey towards remission, you are right.
As much as anything, a lot of the impact of autoimmunity happens between our ears (both literally and figuratively).
The part you can control is the perception of what’s happening.
The judgement about what it means and how you respond to that adversity.
Thoughts, comments, likes and shares are, as always welcome and encouraged.
So now, not only is it my profession, it’s my passion, and it’s personal. I’ve been joking with people lately saying it’s a blessing and a curse. A blessing because I really get it, and a curse because I really got it! ?