“Healing doesn’t mean the damage never existed. It means the damage no longer controls our life”
Dealing with any health condition can be incredibly hard. And lonely. And unpredictable.
Especially when others in your life don’t really understand what you are going through. And some times, the pain, fatigue, and depression become their only companions on this difficult journey.
For many, the loss of independence and feeling like being a burden on their families is the most difficult part. And there is often no end in sight. Nothing to look forward to anymore.
Women can be hit especially hard when it comes to chronic illness.
This is because as women we juggle multiple responsibilities.
Whether it’s managing a career, caring for loved ones, or dealing with chronic health conditions like autoimmune disease, it can be challenging to prioritize our own health and self-care.
Your body is not broken and neither are you
We are led to believe that there is only ONE path to getting better.
And that the ONLY way to get better is to work against our bodies. Either because somehow our bodies are to blame for what is happening or because our bodies are broken and need to be fixed. That only medications and treatments will help us get better and there is no other option.
Don’t get me wrong!
Medications and treatments are life saving and indeed necessary at times. But not always. And they are certainly NOT a long term solution for creating health in the case of chronic illnesses.
This is because there are so many contributing factors at play. Factors such as your lifestyle, diet and stress levels. Both your inner (such as gut health, immune health, digestion) and outer environment (such as toxin exposure, diet, and lifestyle) matter. A lot.
In any case, we often start believing that our bodies are weak and vulnerable.
And that the solution to our problems lies only with the experts.
We wait for others to tell us what to do, what steps to take, when to start medications, and what treatments to go in for. We believe that this is the only way that we can get better.
And we give away our POWER to heal ourselves.
We believe we are not “experts” regarding our own health, and our healing.
In fact, for many years this was where I was stuck.
Feeling helpless and powerless as our daughter’s severe eczema went from bad to worse to uncontrollable. Finally, at the age of 6, she was put on oral steroid medications and immunosuppressive drugs to bring her symptoms under control.
And then the unthinkable happened…
She got hospitalised in the ICU with a life threatening infection in 2013 as a result of a rare drug side effect.
Fortunately, she survived.
But it was a close call and a life-changing incident for me personally. Once she was on her way to recovery, I made a decision. I decided that if there was a better and gentler way to help her deal with this, I would find it and help her get better.
I embarked on a journey that started with embracing the life that we had at the time. And during a year-long research, I became convinced that Functional Medicine could possibly be the solution that I was looking for. That this mode of intervention would allow me to address the root of her health problems.
I took the help of a Functional Medicine practitioner and learned how to create an environment that allowed her body to heal.
In two years she went off all her medications. In fact, I ended up coauthoring an illustrated book for children with her dermatologist based on our story to bring hope to other children and their families in a similar situation. You can check it out here.
In short, Functional Medicine changed her life and ours forever.
And it can do the same for you. Because one thing is for sure, your body knows how to heal itself.
Your body knows how to heal itself
Your body has an innate ability to heal itself.
If it didn’t, our species would have become extinct millions of years ago.
The very fact that you and I are here is proof that our bodies have evolved to adapt to changing environments. And not just decades or centuries, but over millions of years of evolution. Proof that our bodies have what it takes to adapt and survive.
Yet, we seem to not really appreciate this amazing power that resides within our bodies.
Our body knows how to heal a cut, repair most broken bones, take care of many infections and cope with many different phases of depression and anxiety.
Epidemiologist Jeremy Howick shares a few amazing facts about the human body in his book “Doctor You- Revealing the hard science of self healing“
- Pound for pound, your bones are stronger than steel; n principle (if you could prevent it from buckling – for example, by taking a piece of it), a human thigh bone can support 19,000 pounds (8,500 kilograms), which is as much as five pickup trucks.
- Your stomach acid is strong enough to melt zinc
- On average, your body is just ten years old. Your skin completely regenerates every seven days. Your liver completely regenerates itself every year or so. It has been estimated that the average cell in your body is between seven and ten years old at most
- If all the blood cells in your body were lined up end-to-end, they would be 100,000 kilometres long. This is enough to wrap around the earth more than twice
- Your heart beats one hundred thousand times per day, and over three billion times in an average lifetime. During this time, most hearts never need a repair or check-up
The thing is, when we learn how to support our body’s amazing healing abilities, our lives can change.
Healing starts with where you are right now
Healing starts with being ok with where you are, right now.
Because when you are unwell or dealing with a chronic illness, it’s not about whether you should go in for medical treatment OR support your body’s healing process.
Often, it’s both!
You will need a diagnosis to start the appropriate treatment when the disease is already quite entrenched. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t start making changes in your diet and lifestyle to address any underlying imbalances and deficiencies.
The problem is if people believe that they have to wait to get all the ANSWERS in order to support their body’s healing process. In cases like autoimmune disease, the diagnosis itself can take a very long time. Sometimes months, years, and even decades!
And as they keep waiting, they often get sicker and sicker.
Precious time is lost when so much could be done to prevent further damage and disease progression. It really breaks my heart to see the lives of these women and their families getting destroyed while waiting like this.
And with this comes
a loss of independence
fatigue and pain
being misunderstood by family and friends
being ignored by some doctors
and not getting any better in spite of being on medications and treatments
I want you to know that your healing begins when you accept your body as it is right now.
And from here on, I want you to think about your own health differently.
Your symptoms are a “gift”
Symptoms are our body’s way of sending us messages and letting us know that something is wrong.
That there is something amiss. That there is likely some kind of imbalance that needs to be dealt with. It is telling us that we need to take action now so that things don’t become progressively worse.
This is true whether you have an existing health condition or not.
So many health issues could be prevented if we only knew how to pay attention to our bodies.
I learned this lesson the hard way.
In my daughter’s case, if I had known how to pay attention to all those symptoms that had cropped up over the years before, it would have saved her from years of pain and suffering. It would have prevented her disease from progressing to an extent where she had to be put on immune-suppressing drugs at the age of 6.
A LOT of what she went through could have been avoided if we had taken timely action to change her diet and improve her gut health. Her situation deteriorated over several years prior to her hospitalisation while we waited for the well meaning doctors to make her eczema go away.
So the next time you are facing minor symptoms like a headache, indigestion, aches and pain, pay close attention.
Your body is trying to tell you something.
This applies to you even if you are facing extremely severe or a wide variety of symptoms. By exploring the root causes and creating a strong foundation starting with the basics (eating hygiene, sleep, stress, diet) you can learn what to prioritise and when. This way you can start addressing the underlying imbalances and nutrient deficiencies no matter how many symptoms you have and how severe they are.
But this means that you learn how to work WITH and not AGAINST your body.
This I find is the most important piece that is often missing from the health creation process when dealing with chronic illnesses.
Because this requires you to both accept your body as it is right now and show compassion for your body’s suffering.
And the first step that you need to take is to stop being at war with your body.
“and i said to my body. softly. ‘i want to be your friend.’ it took a long breath. and replied ‘i have been waiting my whole life for this.”–Nayyirah Waheed
Stop being at “war” with your body
This is one of the most empowering things that you can do for yourself in the face of any chronic illness (or even if you are trying to prevent one).
We are often led to believe that our body is weak and prone to developing disease at any moment. Or in the case of autoimmune diseases, our immune system is confused and attacks our own tissues because without any reason. Or that it needs to be suppressed because the immune system has gone haywire and become too strong!
However, by treating our immune system (and our bodies) as our enemy, we are in fact shooting the messenger! And in turn, we are in fact making things much worse for ourselves in the long run.
If we want to start addressing the root causes of our health issues we need to start paying attention to the following
- What kind of relationship do we have with our bodies? A healthy one or a disconnected and mistrustful one?
- What is the kind of language that we use when talking about our bodies?
- What would it feel like to stop fighting our bodies and start paying attention to it?
- How would things change if we treated our symptoms as “messages” and adopted a more compassionate stance toward our bodies?
And the best part?
You do not have to wait for anyone’s permission to start creating a healthy relationship with your body!Anindita Rungta
Your body, your friend
Because you see, your body is constantly trying its best to protect you and keep you safe.
More importantly, it is doing its best to adapt to the environment that you are asking it to live in.
If it’s an environment filled with toxins, lack of sleep, or chronic stress, it tries its best to manage and keep things under control. Till it can’t anymore.
On the other hand, if we have intentionally created a healing environment filled with restorative practices, nutritious foods, and daily self-care routines, our body thrives. And then so do we.
There are many inspiring and empowering real life stories about people who turned their life apart from my daughter’s. They have managed to not only halt their disease progression but often also reversed their disease using a root cause approach. This is not easy but it’s certainly possible.
And one such story is of Dr Terry Wahls. She successfully resolved her Multiple sclerosis symptoms to go off medications and regaining complete mobility with the help of Functional Medicine.
So whether you are dealing with a chronic illness or you are completely healthy, it is important that you realise this. Becoming aware of this allows you to treat your body differently. Especially when you are struggling.
Knowing this gives you permission to treat your body with love and support just the way you would for a friend who is struggling.
However, for most of us, our most loving relationship with our bodies was when we were very young. Either as a baby or a young child. All that changed for us as we started growing up.
Our conditioning due to the influence of our society, environment, and media eroded this beautiful relationship that we had with our bodies.
And one day, when we looked at ourselves in the mirror, we could see only our flaws. And all the blemishes and the scars on our bodies. All the things that we don’t like about ourselves.
This of course usually gets worse when we fall ill. Because now we also start believing that our body is weak and vulnerable to developing disease “out of nowhere”.
But this could not be further from the truth! Research shows that autoantibodies in the case of chronic illnesses such as autoimmune diseases can develop many years before any symptoms show up!
I have written about this in detail in an earlier post.
The thing is, we may not have any noticeable symptoms in the early stages or may choose to ignore or medicate the symptoms because they are mild.
As you can see now, supporting your body’s healing process is your responsibility. It’s not the responsibility of your doctor or any other expert.
Because no one else can understand and support your body better than you.
One thing is for sure, your body cannot heal when it is in chronic survival mode.
It all starts with you.
This is where your POWER lies. Not with your doctor. Or anyone else. Just you!
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 my “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