Before I get too far into this I want to state a few things first. If holistic approaches work for you and you’re doing great then I’m cheering you on. Please don’t ask me if I tried the newest juice cleanse or etc. after this blog post. I know you are trying to help but just put yourself in my shoes for a second. How would you feel when doctors are trying to help figure out what’s going on and you are listening to them. Then you get told at least once a week that you should be eating this and doing that. If it was that easy to “cure” or relieve my pain think of how many people in the world would be chasing it. We try to get relief anywhere we can but our bodies are wired differently than you. It’s also hard to hear that because for me I think of two things.
- This person doesn’t think I’m listening to my doctors // I’m not trying to get better.
2. That I am living my life “badly” because I can’t get relief anywhere.
So, just something to keep in mind when talking to a person with a chronic illness. Also this is not medical advice these are my own thoughts and experiences.
I’m going to talk about diet first, then will go into some holistic things. The first summer I got sick I stayed away from breads, was careful what vegetables I was eating, etc I don’t remember all of it. I followed the DASH Diet for Blood Pressure as well. I didn’t drink a lot of pop or gatorade, mostly water. I received no benefits from doing that. I didn’t get relief from pain, my headaches didn’t go away , my joint pain/warmth/swelling was still bad. I’m not saying I eat a ton of junk food. I just eat what I can that day and if one day that means comfort food then the next healthy then it’s ok. Since being sick my appetite has been all over.
The one medication I was on the first year, Lyrica, made me hungry all the time. I gained 25ish pounds. I was taken off of that and since I was put on the new medication, I lost all the weight I gained. I don’t have much of an appetite so right now I’m eating what I can. I have had several of my doctors look at me directly and say following an anti inflammatory diet , or paleo , or the new diet etc. won’t help me. The damage that is done in my body is too far for food to fix it. My endocrinologist explained it the best to me. He said my thyroid isn’t really functioning so food can’t fix that, it’s too far damaged. If I would have started exactly right before getting diagnosed then maybe food could have helped like 30%.
The thing is food can’t change the genetics in your body. I have heard of people on social media getting “cured” from eating a certain way. Good for them- I’m happy. You don’t know everything you see on social media, maybe they got diagnosed with something but they were misdiagnosed -so it worked for them. I just want you to pause and think that there are 133 million American’s (nearly 40% of the population) who have a chronic illness. Just let that sink in – read it again. If a diet worked for everyone or cured them or prevented it, would 133 million American’s still be dealing with chronic illness? I don’t think so. I think that number would be a lot lower if something worked. You also don’t know every person’s diagnoses. You may not know that diets aren’t healthy for someone and that’s ok. If I could cure my pain by eating a salad everyday, don’t you think a lot more people would be doing that? This life is short so my motto is live it how you want. Eat the cake, drink the sweet tea, enjoy some wine, eat popcorn, eat a salad, eat yogurt – it’s your life not someone else’s life. Now I’m not saying go to McDonald’s everyday for supper, that obviously wouldn’t be a good choice.
I will say some holistic approaches have helped a little bit. I get some relief from a CBD Cream, it doesn’t really help my chronic pain but it has been helping my headaches some. I do use essential oils but only in the diffuser. I do a carrier oil but my skin still gets really irritated. In the beginning, I used essential oils all the time, but it only gave some surface relief to me. I do some meditating to clear my mind. I do devotions every day as well and am working on getting a prayer type journal. I also used to do water aerobics for a year 1-2 times a week. I then got a pool that was waist deep and did it at least 3x a week. I was starting to fall in the pool and I would come out and my joints would be very red and warm and swollen. I would have horrible spasms. My doctors said it wasn’t safe anymore and I was doing my body more harm than good and I knew my body was getting a beating. I miss being in the pool and hope one day to get back to that. I have also done counseling.
I don’t get massages because getting touched causes actual pain for me due to Fibromyalgia. I haven’t done acupuncture yet and that is one I go back and forth on. I’m not sure how I would do with needles if that would cause pain and if it would be prone to cause infections?
In summary, holistic approaches may work for you, but they don’t really work for me. It gets tiring and extremely frustrating when someone says try this it provided great relief or go to this amazing doctor who cures chronic illnesses. When you go to these methods after a while it wears you down. I started getting more depressed and it was not healthy. I kept blaming myself – why isn’t my body responding to this or why did it work for this person and not me. I got my hopes up every single time and every single time they were crushed. It doesn’t work for me and that is ok. Every BODY is different. Our genes are different, personalities, physical strength, mental strength, everything is different.
I hope this perspective helps you understand a bit more, or if your dealing with these things while having a chronic illness I hope it gives you comfort that you aren’t alone. I am open to having conversations but please don’t push a diet on me.
Thank you for reading this blog post. I was a bit nervous to publish this. I did a poll on Instagram asking some questions and receiving feedback and this was a popular topic. I was held accountable so I had to show up and write this. So to my Instagram followers thank you.
“Be kind to one another.” – Ellen Degeneres
Be kind to yourself and give yourself some grace.
“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God forgave you.” -Ephesians 4:32