Day 19: Coming to terms with being autoimmune

Today, I had an interesting realisation and it kind of took me by surprise. Today I realised I am OK with having an autoimmune disease. It’s not ideal. It’s not what I would choose. But it’s how things are. And I’m OK with it.

What’s also quite surprising – other than being OK with being autoimmune, which is surprising in itself – is that being OK with it feels good. It feels like a relief, like letting go. And it wasn’t until I let it go that I realised quite how much I’ve been stressing myself going over and over every tiny little detail, obsessing about every morsel of food, every minute of sleep, every potential stressor (ironically). But now having this realisation, I feel calm, I feel positive, and I feel like me again.

Lesson learned: Sometimes you just have to accept the things you cannot change.

This is not me simply giving up. I had convinced myself before that my obsession and drive to cure myself of this condition was a positive thing. It kept me looking forward and gave me hope that one day I’d be pain free and everything would be wonderful again. But what if it isn’t? What if I never get rid of this low-level nagging pain? Am I just going to ignore each day as it passes me hoping tomorrow will be better? Forever?

No, surely it’s better to try and ignore the pain (while still taking the steps to heal) and focus on the real life that’s happening every hour of every day. Having the autoimmunity and this diet being the sole focus of my life has not only made me neglect my own life, but has also made me somewhat self-obsessed, stressed, and a bit boring. I had realised that this is all I talk about to Boyfriend now. And we used to talk about all kinds of topics. Now, we always end up back at this. Even I’m bored of it.

This also does not mean that I am ducking out of this challenge. I still wholeheartedly believe that the changes I am making to my diet and my lifestyle are positive and I am still fully committed to living as healthy and healing a life as possible. After all, I am only at the stage in my autoimmunity now where I could come to terms with it going on forever because of the positive changes I have made so far. Six months ago, the pain was so excruciating at times there was no way I could have conceived having to live with it every day for another few weeks, let alone a lifetime. And it was first adopting the paleo diet, then the Primal Blueprint, and then the Autoimmune Protocol that has got me to this stage where actually the pain isn’t debilitating. It can be dealt with.

I am not a religious person, but my grandparents were devout Christians and when I would stay with them, in the room I slept in, I remember a stained glass ornament in the shape of a book and on it was written:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; knowledge to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer has come back to me at various times throughout my life and it has entered my thoughts again today. The first part of the prayer almost sounds defeatist and I’m keen to emphasise that I do not feel defeated in this. I still hope that one day I will have my Interstitial Cystitis in remission, but I do feel serene in my acceptance of things as they are now.

Serenity prayer

My nan’s ornament was prettier, but I really liked this photo

I also know that I have been and will continue to equip myself with the knowledge I need to change the things that are in my control – such as my diet, my level and type of exercise, the amount of sleep I get, and the level of stress I put myself under. Through the books and blogs I read, through my obsessive compulsive research, through just noticing what is or isn’t working for me. I guess, the aim now is to have less of the obsessive compulsive nature surrounding the knowledge. And to not expect miracles, but to aim for small improvements and step by step change.

I suppose it’s the ‘wisdom to know the difference’ part that is usually the hardest in these situations. And in some ways it feels like it should come before the other two parts of the sentence. Surely you need to know the difference between what you can and can’t change before you know whether to accept things as they are or try to change them? Yet again, maybe not. Perhaps they are not meant to be seen in a sequential order, but rather they’re all happening at the same time. I can be making positive changes through the knowledge I’ve gained, while at the same time being wise enough not to expect everything to change all at once, and being accepting of my current situation whatever that may be.

So, this post has been somewhat heavy, but I hope also positive. It’s not the end of the world. And as boyfriend reminded me yesterday: “despite this, you do have lots of things to be positive about.” And he’s right. I really do.

Have you come to terms with your health problems? What are the things you still struggle with?

Food diary
Breakfast: 1 Big-O-Bacon Burger, 2 mini lamb burger, with salad
Lunch: Roast ham salad
Dinner: Auto Immune Protocol Cottage Pie (oh my days, this was good). I omitted the peas and added mushrooms instead. I also added salt, pepper and dried mixed herbs to the meat and to the mash. Really tasty.
Snacks: Far too many dates. I tried to stick to my two servings, but failed miserably. Next time, I will win though. I also had a blackcurrant fruit leather thing.

Pain level (out of 10)
This morning: 4, going down to 0 for about 11am. Minimal pain in the afternoon. About 1 or 2 into the evening and remains at about 1 now (at 10pm).

Thanks to Len Matthews for the use of the image


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