“You are NOT your eczema
You’re so much more.
You are a warm and caring person who has so much to offer in this world. You are supported by and loved by your family. And together we will find other ways and to deal with this and find joy and calm in our daily lives”.
This is what I often reminded my daughter during those dark moments in our lives.
At the time our lives were consumed by weekly doctor’s visits, medications and treatments to manage her severe and chronic eczema. It felt like all we did was go from one day to the next just putting out one fire after another with no breaks in between.
Yet, I was very clear that I never wanted my daughter to feel as if she was a “victim” of her circumstances.
I wanted her to know that she was a whole person. That there was so much more to her and her life than her diagnosis. That mindset helped her during the most difficult moments and beyond.
But I do believe that it was the mindset that I cultivated in her that helped her to retain her confidence and her beautiful smile over those years. It helped her to build the mental and emotional resiliency that she needed to overcome her challenges.
And you can do the same!
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.”Rumi
Your symptoms do not define you
Getting diagnosed with a chronic illness or condition can make you feel defined by your symptoms and limitations.
And it can become really easy to lose sight of the bigger picture – what really matters to you and why.
So what I want to ask you is this-
What do you love, beyond your health struggles?
And how can you reclaim your power and potential?
I want you to know that you can reframe your mindset and take back control of your healing journey. That you can absolutely can find meaning and purpose in your life, regardless of your health issues. And I’ll provide three practical steps that will help you to reclaim your power.
When you do that, you can still live a beautiful, fulfilling life inspite of your limitations.
Plus, you can be fueled by your restrictions rather than being limited by them.
The pitfalls of identifying with your diagnosis
But first, let’s talk about the common traps that come with having a chronic health condition.
You see, getting diagnosed is often a huge relief at first. It explains the symptoms and gives you a path forward with the right medications and treatments. And that’s good for prevention of further damage and making the symptoms more manageable.
But it can also quickly become limiting.
You may feel powerless, and feel like there’s nothing you can do but manage your chronic illness in this manner for the rest of your life.
In addition, this limiting mindset takes away your agency in your own healing. It actively disempowers you from taking an active role and supporting your body’s healing process. You forget all the other parts of your identity beyond that of being a “patient.”
You don’t discover and address the root causes of your disease. You don’t make the lifestyle and dietary changes that are necessary to support your body. More importantly, you lose hope that you’ll ever get better or feel normal again.
Limitations of conventional medicine
Now, Western medicine does provide life-saving treatments and medications.
It is absolutely necessary in acute medical conditions and emergencies. But it has severe limitations when it comes to chronic illnesses. Because the very nature of chronic illnesses are such that they are multifactorial and develop from a variety of causes.
As Dr Jeffrey Bland says in his brilliant book “The disease delusion”
“Our current approach to chronic illness- palliating its effect, episode by episode- mandates a different paradigm of health-care delivery from the one that we now have, the paradigm developed to provide acute care in a crisis. Lacking a single, easily identifiable beginning and end, chronic illness as we now deal with it will require long-term management- actually, self management by the patients themselves.
Yet, today’s health-care infrastructure, geared to the acute care of infectious of health emergency, just isn’t set up for that. It doesn’t have the tools for such long term self-management demands as an absolute prerequisite for success. ”
True healing requires looking at the whole person, not just treating individual symptoms.
And it starts with owning your healing journey so that you can unlock strengths you never knew you had.
Owning your healing journey
So how do you take back power over your health?
How do you find purpose in your life despite all the limitations and restrictions?
At the same time, this also means taking responsibility for your own wellbeing and supporting your body’s innate healing capabilities..
You become an active participant in your care and healing process- you practice active self management.
You explore root causes and make lifestyle changes to create an optimal healing environment. You surround yourself with people who can support you and focus on changing your belief systems. You believe you can get better. And you cultivate a mindset that allows you to focus on what’s going right in your life.
Of course, none of this is easy.
But all of this allows you to access your inner power and strength. It empowers and guides you to live a rich and meaningful life.
Not in spite of your illness, but better still, because of your illness because you do not allow your illness become your sole identity.
Refusing to let your illness define you
Here are 3 examples of people who refused to let their illness define them:
- Stephen Hawking lived decades with ALS. Despite being confined to a wheelchair, he revolutionized physics and inspired millions.
- Helen Keller turned deaf and blind as a child. She went on to graduate college, write books, advocate for disability rights.
- Selma Blair continues to act and speak out about MS after her diagnosis. She’s a loving mother and a voice for others with chronic illness.
Their conditions did not define them or limit their purpose.
And neither should yours.
Three practical ways to reclaim your power
And finally, I want to leave you with three practical ways to own your healing journey and start taking back control:
- Focus on what’s going right. Appreciate what is going well in your life right now in the small and the big moments. View your body as something to support rather than fight. Give thanks every day for what is working and allow the warmth of gratitude to wash over you. This shift in perspective will give you strength.
- Engage in daily self-care. Small acts like restorative yoga, sipping tea mindfully, a walk in nature, dancing with music you love, reading a book that inspires you or writing in a journal all build up. Set little rituals that nourish you.
- Pursue interests and hobbies. Tap into what you loved as a child. Cultivate new passions. Learning and creating help build resilience to cope with challenges. Become a life long learner
The things is, when we start to see ourselves as more than our conditions, anything becomes possible. We take back our power to heal.
But you don’t have to do it ALL at the same time. And you don’t have to do this alone.
You can find a community that is supportive and healing. You can start by taking baby steps based on where you are, right now. You can give yourself permission to take care of yourself first.
Because when you do that, your healing journey begins!
As Amy B Scher has said
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Anindita is India’s first Functional Medicine certified Health Coach from the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCA). She is also an AFMC Certified Practitioner from the School of Applied Functional Medicine.
She helps women with autoimmune conditions discover their own power to HEAL using her “BODY-WISE HEALING framework” with their bodies as their GUIDE so that they feel happy and healthy and at peace in their bodies
She is also the coauthor of a children’s book called “I have eczema so what?” based on the real life story of her daughter’s and family’s experiences