Living with an autoimmune disease or chronic illness can be challenging, to say the least. Some days (or weeks, or if you’re lucky, months) are good, but many are a battle. To survive, we live in a state of hypervigilance to ensure we aren’t getting triggered. We fight to keep our meds dialed in, our diets on point, our exercise routines flowing, our sleep locked in, and our stress levels under control. But then … LIFE! You overindulge on birthday cake or accidentally eat gluten, you push too hard in the gym or fall off the wagon entirely, you stay up late binge-watching Netflix or get woken up constantly by the new puppy, a work deadline gets moved up or the Wi-Fi goes down while everyone is home working and schooling, the weather changes or pandemic fatigue crashes in on you. The result? A flare-up.
For many of us, our diseased bodies are easily thrown off course. Even the slightest imbalance can affect us in a major way. And when it happens, overwhelm, sorrow, bitterness, self-doubt, self-blame, and even hopelessness can creep in. You start asking yourself, “What did I do wrong? Why does this keep happening? Will I ever just feel normal?”
The answer is YES! But it may take time and it will definitely require trust.
Weather The Storm
So how do you weather the storm of a flare-up? How do you hold on to hope and trust that someday you will feel better? By embracing your reality, shifting your mindset, and grabbing hold of one small but powerful word …
Much has been written about changing your mindset through practicing gratitude; Embracing your disease and what it has given you, rather than what it has taken from you, can create a helpful, therapeutic shift. But let’s be real — It’s much easier said than done, especially when you’re in the thick of it. Besides, if you don’t first face your reality, a positive outlook becomes more toxic (read, avoidant) than helpful. As my last article suggested, sometimes you need to have a good old-fashioned pity party before moving on. But how do you move on? That’s where the magic of those three letters comes in.
After you embrace the suck, embrace the YET.
As a writer, I believe in the power of words. The word ‘yet’ means “up to now,” which invites potential. By adding ‘yet’ to the end of a sentence, it welcomes opportunity. It welcomes possibility. For example, I still haven’t mastered all of the moves in my favorite fitness class, @solidcore. I used to say, “I can’t do that.” But when I say, “I can’t do that yet,” it feels possible. It feels hopeful.
I won’t lie – Maintaining hope during a flare-up isn’t always easy. But hope, by definition, means “the expectation of success or fulfillment.” It implies a level of certainty. Living with an autoimmune disease isn’t easy. It takes work. And patience. But with time, and trust, you can thrive rather than just survive. You may not be where you want to be just yet, but in time, you’ll get there. You gotta have hope!
AUTHOR’S DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, physical trainer, registered dietician, or health care provider, and am not licensed to give medical or nutritional advice. The purpose of this article is to share personal experiences and/or current research in order to educate, inform, and support readers. It should not be taken as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your doctor and/or professional medical team to determine if the ideas discussed herein are appropriate for your individual circumstances.