I need to admit something - I have felt like a fraud. I speak and write all about gut health, the benefits of bone broth, and share as much research on the microbiome as I can…. all while mine is a complete mess. It is at times embarrassing. Who am I to talk of the benefits of bone broth while I look the way I do? While I struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, food intolerances, bloating, toxicity, obesity, autoimmune disease in the form of hashimoto's hypothyroid, fibromyalgia, lupus and chronic fatigue syndrome…. How can I claim to know what is good for healing when I can’t seem to heal myself?
I know I'm not alone. Some of you must know the feeling.
I wake up and I don't know who I am. I don't understand this fatigue. I clamber out of bed and find my body unable to straighten, my legs unable to support me and my feet completely numb. I'm exhausted. I'm not young anymore, I'm 40, but I'm certainly not old. I feel like I'm 90. I huddle into a ball and quietly sob.
My body no longer feels like a body should. It hurts. The fatigue is intense. I take the slow small steps away from the bed, attempting to elongate my spine, hoping to reach a vertical standing position, but I know this won't be possible for at least 10 minutes. My calves cramp with each step in waves of pain as I walk in awkward positions to try and accommodate for the pain. Slowly other muscles join the rebellious chant and I wonder what I did to deserve this. Or am I just getting older?
My body has been giving me grief for five years. And if I had really listened it had been shouting at me for 10 years before that. But I hadn't listened. I'd merely told it to be quiet and continued to push it beyond it's capabilities. I pushed myself to do exercise, despite every inch of my being rejecting the idea. I am fat. So I surf, I swim, I cycle, I box, and lift weight. I continue gaining weight. I'm so tired. My life must appear perfect and easy on the outside whilst I am internally dying. "Push past the pain", I'd say. "Ignore the fatigue... if you stop you're just being lazy".
Looking in the bathroom mirror, I am shocked. Who is this person? I remember vitality, energy, fitness, tone and a twinkle in the eye. A girl that was ready to take on the world. Accept any adventure. Perform any task asked of her. All I could see staring back at me was a shell. Soulless, defeated, tired, aged, unhealthy and finished. All I wanted was to go back to bed. But I must get on with the day. Kids need me. My partner needs me. My business needs me. There is no defeat. Stop being lazy!
It has taken me a long time to become comfortable to share this information. To reveal the lack of perfection. This is what makes my knowledge valuable. To make myself vulnerable before you and give hope to some of you who are suffering in silence. You are not alone. I realise there is no point in experiencing what I have experienced and not sharing. In knowing what I have learnt if it's not to help others. I am not here to dictate the answers, I'm just sharing what I have experienced and hope in doing so you feel safe to follow. You can't know something fullly until you've experienced it, which is why we so often become frustrated with doctors who disregard our symptoms and make us feel like hypochondriacs.
How can we learn to thrive with what we have? How can we learn to acknowledge we have a condition but it doesn't have to prevent us from performing at the best of our abilities right now! What tools can we draw upon to excel despite how we feel in our health?
I am not a fraud. I am a work in progress. And the day I stop learning is the day I stop growing. The universe hit me with a big "slow down" stick and when I didn't listen it simply FORCED me to stop. It has taught me to listen to signs, to observe the small signals that are constantly in my path. To become in tune with my physical being and respect what it is telling me.
Some days are days to submit to the fatigue and stay in bed or on the couch having a trash tv movie fest (did someone say Grey's Anatomy????). Some days are ok to push and test the waters, quite literally for me, and go for a swim in the ocean... my special place, that place that makes me feel alive.
It's a constant juggle to find balance, and that balance is ever shifting as I work towards optimal health. But I've stopped resenting this "illness" that slows me down. I've stopped fighting it and am now just at peace with what it is and that alone is making a huge difference.
Here's to a future of happy, healthier guts.