15 Life Lessons from 15 Years Living with Lupus

15 Life Lessons from 15 Years Living with Lupus

Karin W

November 9, 2023

It’s been 15 years since I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE), which primarily manifested itself with debilitating arthritis and organ complications. My path has been challenging (sometimes at my own doing ;-), but it’s been incredibly fulfilling once I embraced my journey with an autoimmune disease. 

I’ve gone through periods where I took my medication but flat-out ignored self-care and ruthlessly pushed through an overcommitted schedule. I sent emails from my hospital bed post-total-knee-replacement surgery. Not smart. That only works for so long before illness catches up with you. And mine certainly did. 

Thank God. 

Lupus has changed my life, and I’m grateful to be able to share the information and insights I’ve learned over the past 15 years, which have helped me navigate the challenges of living with Lupus and transformed my life profoundly. While they may not all resonate with you now, I encourage you to stay curious. My life changed when I got curious.

1. Have Faith.

I got a text from a friend to go on a ski trip. I declined because I was hooked up to an IV in the ICU, receiving blood thinners to dissipate the extensive blood clots in my lungs. 

At 23 years old, I felt like the world was passing me by as I stared out my hospital window, losing hope that I would not get to participate in life the way I envisioned. The stark contrast between my friends’ vibrant adventures and my hospital view left me feeling robbed of the life I had anticipated.

I want to say it was in that hospital room I leaned into my faith, but instead, I pulled away, grappling with the unfairness of my situation. However, my persistence shone through as I clung to positivity, celebrated small victories, and embraced gratitude. This persistence birthed profound thankfulness for the present moment and a renewed hope for the future.

Hindsight gifted me the realization of my sheer fortune to be alive, a perspective I had lost in the throes of despair. Whether you find solace in God, the universe, or another form of faith, opening yourself to its abundance becomes a beacon in the darkest hours. 

It’s a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, forging hope from adversity and discovering that, even in the hospital’s quiet, the pulse of life beats with profound gratitude and unwavering hope.

2. Get Clear on Your Purpose and Values.

Your purpose, or life’s mission, is your North Star. This guiding light helps you align your priorities with your evolving life circumstances. Your values act as guardrails, ensuring you stay on the right path even when life throws you off course. 

When you’re faced with an autoimmune disease like Lupus, it can be easy to feel lost or overwhelmed by the weight of an intense chronic illness. That’s precisely why we need to get clear on our purpose. Purpose provides resilience. 

Your North Star and values provide the resilience you need to keep moving forward. It’s not always straightforward; sometimes, these diseases can be downright brutal, but having a clear sense of purpose and values can help you find beauty and love even in the most challenging moments.

3. Get Thanking.

Expressing gratitude for the abundance in our lives is a gesture of appreciation and a powerful catalyst for personal growth. It is through this act of thankfulness that we find our true purpose. 

When we concentrate on our journey’s “why” and “who,” we transition into profound gratitude; it’s a reminder that our pursuit of becoming the best version of ourselves is closely intertwined with the people who support and inspire us. 

Gratitude fuels our desire to give back, and we find fulfillment most rewarding in serving others. It’s a beautiful cycle of self-improvement and selflessness that enriches our lives and those around us.

Fun Fact: When we practice gratitude, our bodies make immunoglobulins – our natural defense against viruses and bacteria – and our immune systems strengthen along with other health benefits!2

4. Self-Respect is Vital.

Early on in my autoimmune journey, my priorities were out of order. I was focusing on too many things, and because I was stretched too thin, I wasn’t being my best self at any of it, especially for my family. Naturally, insecurities, self-doubt, and guilt plagued my thoughts. 

Thankfully, my close friends and mentors supported me through those dark times of self-doubt. Find people who will see the best in you, even when you can’t see it yourself. 

But ultimately, it has to come from within. Restructuring my life to align with my values gave me the space to stand up for my family in a way I previously didn’t realize was possible with an autoimmune disease.

The values allowed me to cut out the chaos and be hyper-intentional about where and how I spend my time. When I structured my day and created routines aligned with my values, self-confidence and self-respect followed.

Knowing I’m striving daily to live by my values provides self-worth and love for myself and those around me. Journaling about my accomplishments has trained my brain to focus on the value I’m providing vs. the endless tasks I didn’t get to on my to-do list. 

If you’re struggling with self-doubt, go back to lesson one 🙂 

5. Failure is the Essential Ingredient for Growth.

In our success-driven culture, failure is often viewed as a stumbling block, a setback, or something to be avoided at all costs. However, the reality is quite the opposite. Failure is not a sign of weakness or incompetence but an essential ingredient for growth and personal development. 

This is especially true when living with a chronic illness inherently involves facing adversity. Flare-ups, pain, and unpredictable symptoms can be disheartening and discouraging. Yet, it’s in these moments of struggle that resilience is forged. Resilience is the ability to bounce back from setbacks, a quality that can be cultivated through experiencing and overcoming failure.

Failure is a potent teacher. Trying something that doesn’t work out as planned is an opportunity to gain new insights and knowledge. This newfound understanding can lead to more informed decisions and strategies for the future. In the realm of chronic illness, learning from failure can be life-changing.

For example, suppose you’ve experimented with a particular dietary approach to manage Lupus or another autoimmune disease, and it didn’t yield the expected results. In that case, it doesn’t mean the effort was in vain. It means you now have valuable information about what doesn’t work for you. This knowledge can guide you towards more effective solutions and a better understanding of your own body.

Failure tests your mettle and pushes you beyond your comfort zone. It forces you to adapt, learn, and persevere. In the context of autoimmune disease, a failed attempt at managing your symptoms or a setback in your treatment plan can be seen as an opportunity to learn about yourself, refine, and go again. Setbacks allow you to develop the resilience needed to face future challenges. Each failure is not a stumbling block but a stepping stone.

6. Orchestrate Your Life to Create a Symphony.

The saying, “If you don’t make time for your wellness, you’ll be forced to make time for your illness,” resonates strongly with my journey. Like many, I was stubborn and pushed through the pain and fatigue.

It took a hospital stay for me to reevaluate my lifestyle and learn about epigenetics (definition), which taught me that we have more control over our health than we previously thought. Prioritizing wellness is an investment in your future well-being.

Wellness isn’t just about physical health; it’s about holistic well-being. For instance, getting enough sleep does more than give you more energy; adequate sleep (7-8 hours) can:

  • Boost your immune system and make vaccines more effective
  • Help prevent weight gain by repressing cravings and appetite 
  • Strengthen your heart
  • Elevate your mood and reduce feelings of annoyance, irritant, and anger 
  • Improves memory – how about that for brain fog!4

It’s more than just getting enough sleep or eating the right foods. Those actions that seem to have a singular effect on our health contribute to other aspects of our health. 

conductor conducting and orchestra

While we tend to look at these health aspects in silos, it’s essential to consider a holistic approach. Practice each instrument, learn how their sounds interact, refine until we have music, and optimize until we have a symphony.

When you hear an off-tune sound, revisit the instrument. We’re continuously evolving; staying in tune is critical to creating beautiful music.

7. Stand Up Every Day: Persistence and Patience.

With autoimmune challenges, standing up every day transcends the physical act. Standing might be symbolic sometimes, finding alternative ways to engage with life and work towards your goals. 

On days when physical limitations prevail, it’s a moment for gentle stretching or immersing yourself in an informative podcast.

Regardless of its form, this daily commitment becomes a testament to persistence and patience. It’s a declaration that you actively participate in your journey, no matter the circumstances. 

By remaining engaged amidst autoimmune challenges, we anchor ourselves to our purpose and values, shielding ourselves against the encroaching shadows of hopelessness. Standing up embodies resilience in whatever manifestation is feasible on a given day.

Persisting and persevering through the unpredictability of autoimmune conditions is a marathon, not a sprint. We may not discern the tipping point where the tides turn, but the unwavering faith in its existence fuels the patience and fortitude needed to stand up every day. 

No matter how small, each act propels us forward, reaffirming the journey is not just about reaching the destination but about the strength found in the daily steps and who we become in the process.

8. Making the Hard Choice Now Makes Life Easier for Your Future Self.

Making challenging choices today is an investment in a smoother, more fulfilling future. Whether it’s battling the allure of sugar, the endless scroll of social media, or the captivating abyss of Netflix, our vices can exert a powerful pull.

These distractions not only hinder productivity but can also derail our overall well-being. 

Establishing routines and systems as a barrier against these temptations becomes crucial. Doing so reduces decision fatigue and creates an environment conducive to healthier choices. 

It’s about recognizing that hard choices pave the way for a future where well-being is prioritized and distractions lose their grip. Implementing these structures is a form of self-care that echoes through time, making the journey toward a healthier and more focused self an achievable and sustainable endeavor.

To learn more about setting yourself up for success, see the post: How to Turn Bad Habits into Healthy Habits by Addressing 6 Sources that Influence Our Behavior

9. Have Empathy for Your Supporters.  

The impact of autoimmune diseases ripples through the lives of those around us, touching family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Often, they bear the weight of these diseases with a unique kind of strength.

While we navigate the challenges firsthand, they find themselves on the sidelines, offering support and encouragement but feeling powerless. Living with an autoimmune condition becomes a shared journey, a test of patience not just for us but for our steadfast supporters as well.

Transparency about our diseases becomes a bridge, helping them comprehend our situations and offer more meaningful support.

To the friends and loved ones supporting individuals navigating autoimmune diseases like Lupus, your unwavering support, prayers, and positive vibes are like a lifeline, lifting us more than you may realize.

Your understanding is a source of strength, and your presence on this journey is profoundly appreciated. Thank you for standing by us, making the burden a little lighter, and being an integral part of our resilience.

10. Take Heat.  

Taking heat and holding oneself accountable can be an uncomfortable journey, especially when faced with the blush of embarrassment. The instinct to retreat or hide is powerful, but it is precisely in these moments that growth and a life of integrity are forged. Accountability is the crucible in which our character is shaped, and while the path may be challenging, it is essential for personal development.

In the allegorical tale of YOU GOT THIS, KID! Leadership Advice for Young Leaders,3 the armadillo, Alex, symbolizes resilience with thick skin. This metaphorical armor is developed by understanding what truly matters.

When faced with challenges outside our comfort zone, revisiting our intentions and values becomes the wellspring of courage. For me, grappling with autoimmune disease has fortified my mission and strengthened my values, serving as a steadfast reminder that my purpose lies in serving and aiding others through unwavering integrity.

Family, the cornerstone of my support system, anchors me to what truly matters. Their presence reinforces my commitment to living a life aligned with my mission and values. It’s a challenging yet profoundly rewarding journey that fuels personal growth and ensures that the heat we face refines us rather than scalds us.

11. T.I.M.E. – Today Is My Everything1.  

In the intricate tapestry of time, the present moment stands as the most precious thread—undeniably significant and profoundly impactful. Today is not just a day; it’s an embodiment of opportunities. T.I.M.E. is a poignant reminder to do everything with Intention, Mindfulness, and Engagement.

The past, a repository of memories, is unalterable. What lingers are the moments that stir our emotions, be it joy or sorrow. Meanwhile, the future remains a vast expanse of uncertainty, where studies suggest that a staggering 90% of our thoughts and worries never materialize5. By anchoring ourselves in the present, we liberate our minds from the shackles of an unpredictable future, allowing us to savor the beauty of the now.

I can do whatever I want today

This singular moment is our only guarantee—a canvas waiting for our purposeful strokes. Are we taking positive actions or succumbing to habits that might hinder our future selves?

Every positive step, like engaging with this post to learn about living with autoimmune diseases, is a stride toward progress. Focusing on the present provides the clarity and space to live intentionally, ensuring that each choice contributes to a purposeful and fulfilling journey.

12. Turn Off the Noise.  

The constant barrage of stimuli. The digital age has given us unprecedented access to information and connectivity but has also brought a relentless wave of noise into our lives. From the moment we wake up to when we go to bed, we’re bombarded with news updates, social media notifications, emails, television programs, and a never-ending music playlist.

While it may seem like we’re in control of this digital cacophony, the truth is that it often controls us. We find ourselves tethered to our devices, compulsively checking for updates, and perpetually distracted. This constant state of sensory overload can have detrimental effects on our mental and emotional well-being. For those of us living with chronic illnesses like Lupus, it can exacerbate stress and symptoms.

That’s where the concept of “turning off the noise” becomes not just a luxury but a necessity. Taking deliberate moments to disconnect from the chaos of the modern world can be incredibly healing, restorative, and therapeutic.

13. One Step at a Time.  

When you’re living with a chronic illness, the journey ahead can feel daunting. Managing symptoms, making lifestyle adjustments, and coping with the emotional toll can make the road seem endless. At this point, the wisdom of taking one step at a time becomes invaluable. Breaking your journey down into manageable steps is not just a strategy; it’s a lifeline that can help you navigate the turbulent waters of chronic illness.

Life is full of complexities, and chronic illness introduces a unique set of challenges. However, approaching it one step at a time allows you to gain control and perspective over your situation. Understand that progress is progress, no matter how small it may seem. The incremental changes you make today can add up to substantial transformation over time.

steps

Celebrate the daily victories, whether adhering to your medication regimen, practicing self-care, or simply getting out of bed on a difficult day. Remember, taking one step at a time doesn’t just apply to your physical health; it’s equally relevant to your mental and emotional well-being. 

Dealing with a chronic condition can be emotionally taxing, and it’s crucial to address your mental health with the same measured approach. Seek support when needed, whether through therapy, support groups, or talking to trusted friends and family. Every step you take to prioritize your emotional health is a significant stride toward overall well-being.

Ultimately, the path to wellness, especially when living with autoimmune disease, is not a sprint but a marathon. It’s a continuous journey with its ups and downs. Embrace this long-term perspective and the practice of taking one step at a time. It allows you to build resilience, develop a deeper understanding of your condition, and live a meaningful life at a pace that suits your unique needs.

14. Continuous Learning Fuels the Soul.  

In the ever-evolving landscape of life, the key to staying vibrant and relevant is embracing continuous learning and nurturing an insatiable curiosity. The world is a vast repository of knowledge, and constant learning is a dynamic dance with the ever-expanding boundaries of information. It’s a commitment to growth transcending age, circumstance, and experience.

To stay curious is to cultivate a mindset that sees every encounter as an opportunity to glean insights and broaden perspectives. The fuel propels us to ask questions, seek understanding, and approach challenges with a zest for discovery. 

In a world where change is the only constant, those who embrace continuous learning and stay curious are the ones who not only navigate the currents of transformation but thrive in its embrace.

15. Gumption: Keep Doing the Hard Things.

Gumption is the compass that steers us through the stormy seas of life, urging us to persist and persevere even when the path ahead seems arduous and uncertain. In pursuing our dreams, embracing the hard things is crucial, even when they appear messy or impossible. Your North Star, that unwavering guide within, continues to shine, casting its light through the challenges that may unfold.

The journey toward your aspirations may not always unfold in a neat, linear trajectory; it’s an intricate tapestry woven with threads of hope and potential. As you navigate the twists and turns, remember that the path’s difficulty doesn’t diminish the brilliance of your North Star. 

sign that reads, "#Remember: Fear is a reaction; courage is a decision."

It’s a reminder that the dream is worth every effort, every stumble, and every leap of faith. So, keep doing the hard things, for it is in the crucible of challenges that the true strength of your aspirations is revealed, and the journey becomes a testament to your resilience and unwavering commitment to your dreams.

Living with a chronic illness like Lupus presents unique challenges, but it also offers opportunities for growth, resilience, and transformation. Over 15 years, I’ve learned valuable lessons that have not only transformed my life but have the potential to inspire positive change in anyone facing adversity.

As you navigate your journey, whether related to chronic illness or any other challenge, remember there is always hope. Embrace the path before you, set your values, and follow your North Star; life will reward you far beyond your wildest dreams. 

Thanks for reading to the end 🙂

Dance on, friends,
Karin

In remembrance of Kevin Gerard Moder, M.D.

Your diligence, calm bedside manner, and genuine care for your patients saved my life. Thank you for selflessly serving the lupus community and being a bright light in every life you touched. I’ll forever be grateful. 

Read more about Dr. Moder (Obituary)

Sources

  1. Anti-Time Management: Reclaim Your Time and Revolutionize Your Results with the Power of Time Tipping, by Richie Norton
  2. UCDavis Health: Gratitude is good medicine.
  3. YOU GOT THIS, KID! Leadership Advice for Young Leaders, by Chuck Saia
  4. Intermountain Health: Benefits of Getting a Full Night’s Sleep
  5. National Library of Medicine: Anxious Thoughts

Navigating the Storm: Managing Joint Pain and Inflammation with Autoimmune Diseases for a Better Quality of Life

Navigating the Storm: Managing Joint Pain and Inflammation with Autoimmune Diseases for a Better Quality of Life

Karin W

October 25, 2023

Welcome back, friends! We’re glad you’re here.

I’m Karin Wagner, and I’ve been on a challenging journey with Lupus for 15 years. Throughout this time, I’ve had the privilege of meeting incredible people who have inspired me, including my Invigorate podcast co-host, the Baddest Chaplain Chris Burton. 

We have shared experiences facing various Lupus challenges and are now helping others navigate through their autoimmune journeys. 

Today, we’re talking about a common yet incredibly painful symptom of autoimmune diseases – joint pain and inflammation. For those of us living with these conditions, it’s a daily struggle that can impact every aspect of our lives. The good news is that there are ways to manage this pain and inflammation and improve our overall quality of life.

Understanding the Pain: Joint Pain in Autoimmune Diseases

Joint pain, as many of us know all too well, is a relentless companion in our journey with autoimmune diseases. Joints can swell, stiffen, and become inflamed, making even the simplest tasks feel like monumental challenges. It can affect any joint, from knees and elbows to hands and shoulders.

The pain is often excruciating, making daily life a relentless uphill battle. It’s not just physical; it’s emotionally taxing, too. But today, we want to offer hope and practical advice. We want you to know that you’re not alone, and there are strategies to help you manage this pain and regain control over your life.

The Link Between Inflammation and Joint Pain

Before we dive into those strategies, it’s crucial to understand the link between inflammation and joint pain. Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury or infection. However, in the case of autoimmune diseases, our immune system mistakenly triggers inflammation without any apparent injury or infection.

This chronic inflammation can cause damage to the joints and surrounding tissues, leading to pain and stiffness. Addressing inflammation is, therefore, key to reducing joint pain and improving overall health.

Dietary Strategies for Reducing Joint Pain

One of the most powerful tools in our arsenal for managing joint pain and inflammation is our diet. What we eat can either exacerbate or alleviate our symptoms.

In my experience, eliminating refined carbs and dairy has been a game-changer. These are often inflammatory culprits. Sugar, refined carbohydrates, and unhealthy fats can contribute to inflammation.

On the flip side, certain foods have anti-inflammatory properties. Incorporating these into your diet can make a significant difference. Foods rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation. Think leafy greens, fatty fish, and berries.

Supplements for Relief

In addition to dietary changes and exercise, supplements can be a powerful ally in your battle against inflammation.

Turmeric and Ginger: Nature’s Anti-Inflammatory Duo

Turmeric is a bright orange spice, well-known for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It contains an active compound called curcumin, which has been extensively studied for its potential to reduce inflammation in the body. Curcumin works by blocking specific molecules that trigger inflammation, providing relief from joint pain and stiffness.

Ginger is another natural remedy that complements turmeric beautifully. It contains gingerol, an active ingredient with potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Much like turmeric, ginger can help reduce joint pain and inflammation by inhibiting the same inflammatory pathways.

Both turmeric and ginger are easy to incorporate into your daily routine. You can add them to your cooking, brew them as teas, or find them in supplement form at your local health store. However, before starting any new supplement, it’s always a good idea to consult your healthcare provider to ensure it’s safe and appropriate for your needs.

Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin

Vitamin D is often referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because our skin can produce it when exposed to sunlight. This essential nutrient is not only vital for bone health but also plays a role in reducing inflammation.

Research has shown that vitamin D can help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation in the body. Vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of autoimmune diseases, including Lupus. Ensuring adequate vitamin D levels through a combination of safe sun exposure and supplementation can be a valuable part of your inflammation management plan.

B Vitamins: Building Blocks of Health

The B vitamins, including B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate), and B12 (cobalamin), are essential for various bodily functions, including immune system regulation. They can also play a role in reducing inflammation.

Supplements can be valuable to your inflammation management plan when living with autoimmune diseases. Turmeric and ginger, with their natural anti-inflammatory properties, can offer relief from joint pain and stiffness. Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, helps regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation. B vitamins, the building blocks of health, have shown promise in managing autoimmune disease symptoms, including inflammation.

However, it’s crucial to remember that supplements are not a one-size-fits-all solution. What works for one person may not work for another, and individual needs can vary significantly. Therefore, always consult with your healthcare provider before incorporating new supplements into your routine. They can help determine the right approach to address your unique situation and provide guidance on the most suitable supplements and dosages for you.

Exercise: The Power of Movement

When dealing with joint pain and inflammation caused by autoimmune diseases, the idea of exercise might seem counterintuitive. After all, moving when you’re in pain doesn’t sound appealing. However, regular exercise, even in the form of gentle activities like stretching and walking, can be a game-changer in your journey to manage these challenging symptoms.

Improving Joint Mobility

I can’t stress enough how essential exercise has been for me in managing my Lupus symptoms. While it might seem daunting at first, I’ve found that even gentle movements can have a significant impact on my joint mobility.

Autoimmune diseases can cause stiffness and decreased range of motion in your joints. Regular exercise helps to counteract this by increasing flexibility and promoting better joint mobility. When you incorporate movement into your daily routine, you’re essentially giving your joints a workout, which can help prevent them from becoming overly stiff and painful.

Strengthening the Muscles Around Your Joints

In addition to improving joint mobility, exercise also strengthens the muscles around your joints. These muscles act as a natural support system for your joints, helping to distribute the workload more evenly and reduce the strain on the affected joints.

It’s important to start slowly and gently, especially if you’re new to exercise or dealing with a flare-up. Begin with simple stretches and range-of-motion exercises, and gradually work your way up to more challenging routines. The goal is to find a balance between keeping your joints mobile without causing excessive pain or strain.

Building a Supportive Exercise Routine

Creating a supportive exercise routine involves a few key considerations:

1. Consult Your Healthcare Provider: Before starting any new exercise regimen, it’s important to consult your rheumatologist or healthcare provider. They can help you tailor a program to your specific needs and ensure it’s safe for your condition.

2. Find What Works for You: Not all exercises are created equal, and what works for one person may not work for another. The key is to find an activity that you enjoy and can stick with. This could be yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, or even gentle walks.

3. Listen to Your Body: Pay close attention to your body’s signals. If you experience pain during or after exercise, it’s crucial to adjust your routine or consult your healthcare provider for guidance. The goal is to feel better, not worse.

4. Set Realistic Goals: Understand that your exercise routine may need to be adapted during flare-ups or on particularly challenging days. Be flexible with your goals, and remember that any movement is better than none.

5. Consistency Is Key: Consistency is essential when it comes to exercise. Even when you’re not feeling your best, doing some gentle stretching or taking a short walk can make a big difference in the long run.

Remember, your journey is unique, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to exercise. The most crucial step is to start. Begin with simple, gentle movements, and gradually build from there. Over time, you’ll find that exercise can become one of your most effective tools in managing joint pain and inflammation.

Managing Stress: The Mind-Body Connection

In the realm of autoimmune diseases, stress is often an unwelcome and relentless companion. It’s not just a mental burden; it can significantly worsen inflammation and pain in the body. Understanding and managing the mind-body connection is essential to regain control over your life.

The Impact of Stress on Inflammation

Stress can be a relentless presence for people with autoimmune diseases and chronic illnesses. When stress levels rise, symptoms tend to intensify. It’s a shared experience among those with autoimmune diseases.

When you’re stressed, your body produces hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which are part of the “fight or flight” response. These hormones can trigger and exacerbate inflammation in the body. For those of us already dealing with chronic inflammation, this stress-induced response can be especially problematic.

Stress can also affect how we perceive pain. When we’re stressed, our pain tolerance tends to decrease, making the pain we experience feel even more intense. Finding ways to manage stress is crucial. One method that has proven incredibly helpful is meditation.

Meditation: A Calming Practice

Meditation involves focusing on a particular object, thought, or activity to train attention and awareness and achieve a mentally clear, emotionally calm, and stable state.

Meditation can be a transformative practice that reduces stress and helps you become more attuned to your body. It’s about creating a mental space where you can let go of worries, fears, and anxieties, even if just for a few minutes each day.

One technique that works well for many people is called diaphragmatic breathing. It involves taking slow, deep breaths by expanding your diaphragm. Inhale for a count of four, hold for four and exhale for four. This simple practice can have a remarkable impact on your stress levels and overall well-being.

Deep Breathing: A Simple Yet Powerful Tool

Deep breathing is another fantastic technique for managing stress. It’s a simple yet powerful tool that can be done anywhere and anytime.

When you practice deep breathing, you’re essentially sending a signal to your brain that it’s time to relax. This results in a lower heart rate, reduced blood pressure, and a sense of calm and relaxation.

Therapy: Seeking Professional Guidance

In some cases, stress may become overwhelming, and it can be beneficial to seek therapy. Therapists can provide valuable support and guidance in managing stress, which, in turn, helps reduce inflammation and pain.

Therapy offers a safe space to explore your feelings and develop coping strategies. It’s not a sign of weakness but a step toward taking control of your mental and emotional well-being.

There are various therapeutic approaches, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which helps change negative thought patterns, and mindfulness-based therapies that promote living in the present moment. Finding the right therapist and approach that suits you is essential.

Reclaiming Control

Autoimmune diseases, joint pain, and inflammation may be part of your journey, but they don’t have to define your life. Managing stress effectively is a critical aspect of this process. By practicing meditation, deep breathing, and seeking therapy when needed, you can reclaim control over your well-being.

Remember, the mind-body connection is a powerful one. When you address stress and its impact on inflammation, you’re not only improving your mental and emotional health but also reducing the physical burden on your body.

Practical Tips for Daily Life

Living with joint pain and inflammation can be challenging, but there are practical tactics you can incorporate to ease symptoms.

Heat and Cold Therapy: One of the most accessible and effective ways to alleviate pain is by applying heat or cold to the affected area. Consult with your doctor to determine the best method for your symptoms. Heat increases blood flow and relaxes tense muscles, while cold therapy can help numb the area and reduce swelling.

Assistive Devices: If joint pain hampers your ability to perform daily tasks, consider using assistive devices. Canes, walkers, or jar openers might not be glamorous, but they can provide much-needed support and alleviate pressure on your joints.

Taking Breaks: Taking regular breaks is crucial if your daily activities involve repetitive motions that exacerbate your pain. Rest and stretch your joints to reduce strain and prevent further inflammation.

Getting Enough Rest: Rest is essential for managing pain and inflammation. It allows your body to repair and rejuvenate. Make sure to prioritize getting enough sleep each night.

It’s important to remember that managing joint pain and inflammation is a journey unique to each individual. While these tips can provide relief, it’s essential to consult with a rheumatologist for a personalized treatment plan.

When to Seek Medical Help

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, our symptoms may intensify or interfere with our daily lives. That’s when it’s crucial to seek medical help.

Rheumatologists are vital in developing individualized treatment plans based on your condition and symptoms. They consider factors such as the severity of inflammation, joint damage, and overall health to determine the most appropriate course of action.

In some cases, your rheumatologist may refer you to other healthcare professionals, like physical therapists, occupational therapists, or pain management specialists, who can provide additional support and therapies to help manage joint pain and inflammation.

Regular monitoring and follow-up with your rheumatologist is essential. They’ll help you adjust your treatment plan as needed and guide lifestyle modifications, exercise routines, and self-care strategies, all aimed at improving your overall well-being.

Consulting with a rheumatologist for personalized advice and treatment options is crucial, but remember that staying on top of inflammation at home can also make a significant difference.

Embracing Hope and Relief

Living with an autoimmune disease, joint pain, and inflammation can significantly impact your quality of life. But with the right strategies, the proper support, and the right mindset, you can reduce pain and inflammation. You can regain control of your symptoms and live a higher quality of life.

Remember, you’re not alone on this journey. We understand and care. We’re here to support you, to share our experiences, and to offer hope for a brighter, pain-free tomorrow. Together, we can invigorate your journey and make every step easier. Thank you for joining us today, and we’ll be back with more soon.

Karin

Resources

9 Steps to Prioritize and Take Control of Your Day

9 Steps to Prioritize and Take Control of Your Day

Karin W

October 5, 2023

We’re flying through our routines, grimacing through joint pain, drinking caffeine to fight off relentless fatigue and other complications accompanying autoimmune diseases.

Time is the only irreplaceable commodity, yet so many of us spend it racing through our daily routines without giving it much thought.

While here at Invigorate, we give you the steps, tools, and resources to empower your health journey while navigating autoimmune disease challenges; you may be thinking…

How the heck am I supposed to make these changes when it takes every ounce of my being just to get through the day?  

We hear you. Hang with us…

We have a finite number of hours in a day – 24 hours: eight for sleep, four for eating (including prep and dishes), two for essential self-care, like showering and laundry, and work for eight or so hours…give or take time on each side, we’re left with a few precious hours to spend with family and friends.

The good news is that you can take steps to get some stuff off your plate and prioritize to maximize those hours.

While it takes more initial effort and persistence to change your habits, the payoff will mean more energy and stamina to get more out of those hours – improving your quality time with family and friends.

9 Steps to Take Charge of Your Day


1. Track your steps.

Before cutting out the energy drainers and time suckers, we need to know how we spend our time. We’re generally not great at doing this, especially in our culture of multitasking, distractions, and various vices.

Being specific about each habit you have throughout the day will help you understand how these habits stack up and affect your energy.

Use a journal, an app, or pen and paper to record every task and every step you take throughout the day. Don’t worry; you won’t have to do it for long – two weeks is great, but even a few days of tracking can provide some insight.


2. Group your to-dos into categories.

  • Self-Maintenance: This category encompasses tasks related to taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. It may include self-care routines (which can be as simple as showering and brushing your teeth in the morning), personal development, and relaxation.
  • Family: This category focuses on tasks and responsibilities related to your immediate family members, such as spending quality time with loved ones, caring for their needs, and supporting their growth.
  • Exercise: Physical activity is essential for maintaining good health and energy levels. Include tasks related to exercise or any physical activities you engage in to improve your well-being.
  • Work/Commute: This category revolves around tasks related to your job or profession. It includes activities such as work projects, meetings, commuting, and professional development.
  • Social Life: Allocate a category for tasks that involve socializing and spending time with friends or participating in community events.
  • Household: This category encompasses tasks related to managing your living space, such as cleaning, organizing, cooking, grocery shopping, and home maintenance.

As you group your to-dos into categories, pay attention to overlapping tasks. For example, you might eat breakfast on your way to work, combining the self-maintenance and work/commute categories. Similarly, folding laundry while talking with a friend on the phone can fall under both the household and social life categories.

Identifying overlapping tasks can be advantageous as it allows you to maximize your time and accomplish multiple things simultaneously. However, be careful not to overload yourself with too many multitasking activities, as this can lead to feeling overwhelmed and not fully present in any of the tasks.

By grouping your to-dos into categories, you gain insights into where your time and energy are predominantly allocated. This awareness can help you assess if your current time allocation aligns with your priorities and make adjustments if necessary. It also allows you to see if any category consistently takes up more time or energy than desired, helping you identify areas where you may need to reprioritize or seek support.

Remember, these categories are not set in stone; you can customize them to fit your unique circumstances and responsibilities. The goal is to clearly understand how you spend your time and energy and make intentional choices that align with your values and well-being.

3. Identify necessary tasks and energy producers.

Our energy is significantly influenced by the types of activities we do. Some activities uplift us. We feel lighter and more energized. Conversely, other activities or tasks drain our energy, leaving us feeling heavy and depleted.

It’s important to consider how each task affects our energy so we can organize our day to prioritize our values, support our preferences, and propel us through the less energizing tasks.

Take note of how each task affects your energy, no matter how slight the change may be. Did the action give you a lift in energy, even if it was small? Or did it drain your energy? Some tasks may have a neutral effect.

By being mindful of these energy shifts, you can begin to identify patterns and make informed decisions about which tasks are necessary and which ones you can potentially eliminate.

A black woman portraying a lot of positive energy

This process is highly individual and unique to your own experiences and needs. What energizes one person may not have the same effect on another. Therefore, listening to your body, trusting your instincts, and making choices that support your overall health and happiness are essential.

4. Cut out tasks that drain your energy.

Tiredness and fatigue can be all too familiar for those living with autoimmune diseases. That’s why taking control of our energy and time is crucial. We can do this by pinpointing the tasks that drain us and exploring options to eliminate them. While it may not be easy initially, the rewards will be well worth it.

It’s time to take a closer look at how we spend our precious energy. Start by assessing your daily activities. Consider which tasks leave you feeling exhausted or depleted. Is it spending hours on social media? Or perhaps saying yes to every request, even when it stretches you thin? Take note of these energy-draining culprits.

Next, it’s time to prioritize. Determine which tasks are genuinely essential and align with your goals and values. These are the tasks that deserve your energy and attention. Giving yourself permission to let go of the non-essential tasks can be liberating. Remember, this is about preserving your energy for what matters most to you.

As you strive to cut out tasks that drain your energy, being gentle with yourself is crucial. Progress may not always be linear, and that’s okay. Focus on taking small steps and celebrating every win, no matter how insignificant.

In the challenging journey of autoimmune diseases, conserving our energy is a powerful tool. We empower ourselves to focus on what truly matters by eliminating tasks that drain us. So, let us take charge of our energy and create space for the activities that invigorate and inspire us.


5. Set it and forget it. Automate anything you can.

In today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, automation is paramount. It’s time to take advantage of the wonders of technology and automate those repetitive tasks that drain our energy and consume our precious time.

Imagine never having to scramble to put dinner together or wasting time standing in line at the pharmacy for prescription refills. With Invig Resource: Misfits Market, you can automate your grocery or meal delivery, ensuring that nourishing food arrives at your doorstep without lifting a finger. And why not let a trusty robot vacuum take care of never-ending cleaning tasks?

By automating these daily tasks, we can free up our time and conserve our energy for the things that truly matter. Just think of the stress that will melt away and the extra energy you’ll have to devote to self-care, hobbies, or creating meaningful moments with loved ones.

6. Delegate tasks to others.

Asking for help can be challenging, we know. But let us assure you, my dear friend, that learning to delegate can be a game-changer in reducing stress and conserving energy. Take a moment to identify tasks that can be delegated to others.

It could be asking a coworker for assistance on a project or assigning household chores to family members. And don’t forget about the power of community support.

Invig Resource: Give InKind is an excellent care coordination tool to get support with whatever you need. Let us embrace the power of coordination and delegation. Doing so allows us to focus our energy on what truly matters!

7. Outsource whatever you can.

Outsourcing can be a game-changer when it comes to managing your time and energy. While it may not always be feasible to outsource every task, it is worth considering those tasks that drain your energy or add unnecessary stress to your life. Outsourcing tasks can help reduce your workload, free up valuable time, and allow you to focus on the things that matter most to you.

Consider outsourcing household chores such as laundry, cleaning, or yard maintenance. These tasks often require physical effort and can be time-consuming, especially for individuals with autoimmune diseases or chronic illnesses. By hiring someone to take care of these tasks, you can conserve your energy and allocate it to activities that bring you joy and fulfillment.

Outsourcing can extend beyond household chores as well. You can outsource tasks like grocery shopping, meal preparation, or prescription pickups. These errands can take up a significant amount of time and energy, and by delegating them to someone else, you can save both.

Outsourcing doesn’t have to be expensive or involve hiring professional services. Get creative and seek help from neighbors, friends, or even local community organizations. For example, maybe a neighbor’s child could take out your trash or mow your yard for a small fee.

Additionally, resources or services may be available in your community specifically designed to support individuals with chronic illnesses or disabilities.

When deciding whether to outsource a task, it can be helpful to calculate the cost-benefit. Assess the advantages of outsourcing, such as reduced stress, saved time, and conserved energy, against the expenses involved. Evaluate whether the potential benefits outweigh the cost, both financially and emotionally.

Outsourcing is not a sign of weakness or inability to do things independently. It’s a strategic decision to prioritize your well-being. Then, you can create space for activities that bring you joy, fulfillment, and better overall health.

8. You do what you schedule. Plan out your day.

Now that you have narrowed your list to the necessary to-dos and activities that fuel your energy, it’s time to plan your day. The phrase “you do what you schedule” is incredibly accurate.

By planning what you must accomplish each day, you can note the essential tasks and allocate the necessary time to them. Organizing your day in this way can help you prevent overcommitment, conserve energy, and reduce stress.

One of the biggest hurdles in planning your day is being realistic about what you can get done in a day. It’s essential to be mindful of your energy levels and adjust your plans accordingly. Your priorities might even change throughout the day, depending on how you’re feeling.

To ensure you don’t overcommit yourself, it can be helpful to physically limit the space you use to manage your to-do list. While digital task managers like Microsoft’s To-Do list are convenient, they provide endless space for adding tasks. Consider using a paper calendar, so you have a limited space to fill. This can help you prioritize and focus on what must be done.

9. Reprioritize  

Life is constantly throwing new things at us, and we often have to adjust our plans on the fly. When a new task comes up, take a moment to consider whether it truly belongs on your list.

Evaluate if it aligns with your priorities and belongs to your to-do list. If it does, make a conscious effort to determine where it falls within your priorities. Look at your categories and identify which one the task belongs to. Then, take a long look to see if it can be automated, delegated, or outsourced.

Tip: Do a Double-Take. When a new task comes up, ensure it belongs on your list. Does the request align with your priorities and belong to your To-Do list?

Regularly checking in and reassessing your list is crucial. Priorities can evolve, and what seemed important a week ago might not hold the same weight now. By reevaluating and reprioritizing, you can ensure that your energy and time are aligned with your most important goals and responsibilities.

Productivity Tip: Take breaks!

Remember to give yourself breaks throughout the day. Taking quality mental breaks is essential for maintaining productivity and avoiding burnout. Research has shown that our brains have limited focus time, and pushing ourselves to concentrate excessively can result in impulsive behavior, creative blocks, and poor collaboration.

According to Srini Pillay, M.D., an executive coach and CEO of NeuroBusiness Group, taking “unfocused time” has numerous benefits. It allows our brain to wander, sparking creative thinking and enhancing problem-solving skills.

So, make sure to schedule regular breaks during your day and engage in activities that allow your mind to rest and recharge. Avoid getting distracted by mindless social media scrolling and instead engage in activities that truly help you relax and rejuvenate.

Crafting a Personalized System for Optimal Time and Energy Management

By following these nine steps, you can create a personalized system that works for you and helps you use your time and energy best. Prioritizing is crucial for individuals with autoimmune diseases or chronic illnesses, as it allows you to conserve energy, reduce stress, and focus on the things that matter most to you.

All of this is easy in theory. It’s sticking with it and giving your To-Do list the thought and effort needed to spend your valuable time on the things most important to you.  

Remember, you are not alone in this journey. We are standing beside you, ready to lend an empathetic ear, share helpful tools and resources to empower your journey and provide a supportive community to lean on. Together, we can navigate the challenging terrain of autoimmune diseases and reclaim our lives.

5-Step Resilience Plan – A Toolkit to Put Yourself Back Together After “Failure”

5-Step Resilience Plan – A Toolkit to Put Yourself Back Together After “Failure”

Karin W

September 19, 2023

Failure is inevitable. It comes with the territory of developing habits and routines that cultivate health and wellness. More directly, failure means you tried something and now have an experience you can learn from, which is the foundation of personal growth and development.

Our mantra at Invigorate is to take it one step at a time. The idea is that not if but when we misstep, we can brush it off without a big deal and get back on track with our next step or the one after that if we need a beat. Taking sufficient time is key to processing setbacks in a healthy way.

Here are Five Steps to help you Cope with and Process Uncomfortable Emotions after a learning experience.

  1. Reframe How You Think About Failure
  2. Develop One or Two Anchor Thoughts to Help Ground Yourself
  3. Give Yourself Some Space to Decompress
  4. Reflect on the Experience
  5. 5-4-3-2-1 Go!

Step 1: Reframe How You Think About Failure – Shift to a Growth Mindset

Failure is an inevitable part of life, especially when making changes and taking risks. Thinking of failure as an opportunity to learn something new can help you keep an open mind to new ideas and ways of doing things.

When we try something new, of course, it will be a disaster. We’ll trip ourselves up and get in our own way, but we’ll get through it and come out the other side better for it.

By focusing on our efforts vs. the outcome, we focus on our journey vs. the destination.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

Ernest Hemingway

Our experiences are the primary way we learn and grow. They challenge and stretch us. It’s a fact of life: we’ll make mistakes along the way. That makes life grueling at times but more rewarding than ever imagined.

We must push ourselves out of our comfort zone and be prepared to fall. The more things we try and fail at, the more we’ll learn and grow.

Even though we know failure is inevitable and critical for our development, it doesn’t change the fact that failure doesn’t feel good when it happens. However, we can tap into a couple of tools to help us cope with the difficult emotions that often come with setbacks.

Step 2: Develop One or Two Anchor Thoughts to Help Ground Yourself

After particularly rough falls, a reminder that failure is the key ingredient to growth and progress can be invaluable to getting you back on your feet.

Anchor thoughts or affirmations reinforce our values and why we continue to challenge ourselves. They’re an act of self-care as they help us process anxiety and other uncomfortable emotions to regain perspective.

But when our energy is low, finding a silver lining is often a heavier lift than we’re willing to carry.

Writing down inspirational quotes or encouraging notes ahead of time can increase your likelihood of referring to positive messages when you’re disappointed or frustrated.

Woman sitting at desk writing in notebook

Here are some Affirmation Examples:

  • “I don’t know what will happen next, but I’ll learn something from this experience.”
  • “I don’t keep a scorecard.”
  • “I treat my body with love and respect.”
  • “I am committed to my health.”

Spending a minute or two reading them out loud and internalizing their messages can help shift your mindset. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but it should get easier with time.

Try different ones if they don’t or aren’t resonating with you. They should change with you and your experiences.

Steps to Grow Your Affirmation Stamina:

  • Read your affirmations silently.
  • Read them aloud.
  • Read them allowed looking in a mirror.
  • Memorize them and say them to yourself throughout your day.

“Together, with honest self-reflection and concrete action steps, positive affirmations can be a wonderful part of one’s behavioral change regimen.”

Anna Yusim, M.D.

By getting yourself to a more positive state, you set yourself up to reflect openly. That’s where vital learning and growth happen.

Step 3: Give Yourself Some Space to Decompress

You dropped the ball, royally embarrassed yourself, and want to bury your head in the sand for whatever reason. After experiencing a tough setback, giving yourself time and space to decompress is critical to process emotions.

Allow yourself some time for self-care and engage in activities that help you relax and take your mind off things healthily. You can refer to 10 Tools to Nurture You Through Autoimmune Disease Flares for ideas on how to unwind mentally.

Young man sitting outside an industrial area staring off into the distance

Give yourself time and space to process your emotions without feeling pressured or rushed into doing something else right away. Our general rule is to give yourself space for at least 24 hours. A good night’s sleep can help bring logic and clarity to what previously seemed to be a dramatic situation.

If you feel stuck in a loop of negative emotions, try breathing deeply and focusing on your breath for a few minutes. This will help lower blood pressure and release tension, allowing you to shift into a more relaxed state.

Reference the Invigorate Mental Health Step for breathing and other mindfulness tools to help you decompress.

Step 4: Reflect on the Experience

It’s important not to do this step until you’ve had ample time to decompress. If we start the process too early, we don’t have the clarity, nor can we gain true insights from the experience.

After you have time to decompress, perhaps for a few hours or days, reflect on the experience. It might sound counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to overcome disappointment is to think about it.

Sitting with our uncomfortable emotions is uncomfortable, but when we do, we heal and grow.

This is especially helpful if you feel like your emotions are getting in the way of clear thinking. It’s OK to start, stop, and revisit. In fact, it’s great because your perspective will change, and your insights will deepen.

Writing down our thoughts helps us process the situation.

Like doing a complicated math problem, breaking it down on paper helps our brains organize and make sense of the information to solve it.

There’s no need to get hung up on the details. Let your thoughts flow without judgment; the insights will present themselves if you’re open and honest.

Reflecting on failure involves asking questions like:

  • What happened?
  • Why did this happen?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • What do I need to change to improve my chances of success next time?
  • What can I do to best move forward?

Simply start writing in a journal or talking to a friend. Don’t get hung up on details. You may surprise yourself with what you uncover when you let your thoughts flow freely.

If reflection feels daunting, setting a timer for 5-10 minutes can be enough to get started and potentially through your process.

Reflection is a powerful tool for learning. It allows us to gain new insights, connect past and current experiences, and see things from different perspectives.

By reflecting on failure, we can learn from our mistakes and improve our chances of success in the future.

Step 5: 3-2-1-Go!

We shifted our perspective on failure, decompressed, and processed the situation, and now it’s time to get back on our feet and go again. But maybe you’d rather revisit the decompression state and throw on a couple more nostalgic shows…

As we stall, our motivation dwindles, and depression symptoms can creep in. It’s a continuous tug-of-war between temptation and doing the thing that will get you back on your feet.

“5-4-3-2-1, Go!”

That simple saying can help get you moving, and once you’re in motion, momentum builds rather quickly because taking action fuels motivation. The 5-second rule can be applied to anything, from getting out the door to starting a project.

When we’re in the moment, emotions influence our decisions. But when you take action, those emotions subside, leaving you with a clear mind to make better decisions.

Failure is a Requirement to Make Progress and Grow

Remember, failure is not the end but a stepping stone toward growth and personal development. When you have setbacks or missteps, a resilience plan can help you bounce back quicker by giving you a roadmap for handling setbacks.

Planting seed in garden with bare hands patting the dirt around the sprout

By reframing how you think about failure, giving yourself space, developing anchor thoughts, reflecting on the experience, and taking action, you can put yourself back together to continue your journey more experienced and better off than before your “failure.”

Continuous failure is a vital part of a successful, fulfilling journey. We can make the most of our experiences by learning to navigate them with acceptance and curiosity. When we learn to accept failure, we can move forward with an open mind and heart, knowing it’s all part of the process.

Let’s give it a 3-2-1 -Go!

Keep Striving, Survivors,
Karin

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Celebrating Self-Acceptance and Perseverance through Parenting with a Chronic Illness

Celebrating Self-Acceptance and Perseverance through Parenting with a Chronic Illness

Karin Wagner

May 5, 2023

Surviving: chronic fatigue, hair loss, chronic pain, anxiety, depression, nausea, dizziness, bouts of confusion and inability to focus, insomnia, memory issues, headaches, joint pain, etc.

Striving: a diagnosis! and treatment

How long have you been on your journey with autoimmune issues? While I haven’t been diagnosed, I’ve dealt with autoimmune issues for about a decade. At the very least, I’ve been dealing with something chronic for at least that long.

What was your turning point in looking to improve your health? Basically, now. This is a new journey for me. I’ve put on significant weight and have noticed that even light physical activity that I used to do easily exhausts me within minutes. As the mother of an active 6-year-old, I need to be able to walk alongside her while she scooters around town, sit on her bedroom floor for an hour and play ponies, carry her to bed when she falls asleep on me on the couch.

But I also do it for me. I miss looking in the mirror and not hating myself. What I see isn’t even an echo of what others see because whatever it is I’m dealing with has warped my own perceptions of myself beyond recognition.

And I miss having the energy to actively participate in my life.

What’s something you’ve learned along the way?

Something that’s been a rude awakening, but also freeing, is that what I’m dealing with is (mostly) invisible. It’s hard to offer others the benefit of the doubt when they keep nudging me to do this or that when I’m out of spoons or offer inane advice like smoothies and jogging, but the flipside of that is that what I am frustrated with myself for right now they don’t see.

I shaved my head because my hair loss became depressing. Others see a badass, someone who doesn’t care what others think, an artistic temperament, a free spirit. (And to some extent, they’re not wrong, even if I’ve lost track of her.)

I see dark circles under my eyes, thirty extra pounds, stretch marks, and patches of scalp. I see my calendar and all the events I missed out on. I see my daughter’s eyes when I let her know we have to head back inside because I’m just too tired to continue again.

I know what got me here, and I can hate it all I want, but here’s the thing: most people just see another human living their life. They meet you for the first time wherever you are in your journey, and that’s who you are to them. You see every moment of your own life, the behind-the-scenes exclusive; they see snapshots.

If they judge based on that, eff them. And honestly? I don’t think most bother.

What advice would you give someone starting in their autoimmunity journey?

Meet yourself where you are. It’s okay to want more and to work towards it, and the desire to improve your situation is crucial to seek out the support you need–but on those days where you just can’t? Don’t, and don’t feel bad for it.

What are you currently striving for?

Above all, a diagnosis and treatment–whatever that looks like. I have difficulty making it to appointments, and severe medical anxiety, so I know it will be a long road. But at the end of the day, having a diagnosis will give me a basis for making more informed decisions about my health.

Follow Heather on social: @almostmidwest on Facebook & Instagram. Contact us to share your story.