From the second that I first started presenting symptoms of Hashimoto’s disease, I knew that my life was never going to be the same. Even then, I felt this pull that this was a huge turning point in my life at just 17 years old. The first time that I had a serious heart palpitation episode and fainted right behind the cash register at my high school job, lead me down a path that I could never back out of. I was officially the chronically ill girl who battled these uncomfortable symptoms, flares that shifted my weight and physical appearance, and dramatic fainting episodes and panic attacks for years.
Though I had zero choice as to whether or not this all would happen to me, I did have a choice if it would change my life for the better, or worse. Some days it’s both, but all in all, I chose to be grateful for my Hashimoto’s and leaky gut.
When I look at it just right, I see that I’m grateful that I have Hashimoto’s disease. It has changed my life for the better.
So, first… why do I have a positive outlook on having a chronic disease like Hashimoto’s?
First, know that I’m not a sunshine-y person who is always incredibly positive and has thought this way from day one. Not in the least. I’ve cried many tears, and have asked my fair share of “why me’s”. Shifting my perspective to a positive one was a choice. And a necessary one…
If I continue to keep being negative and not forgive myself of my body for bringing me to a state of disease, the only person I’m hurting is myself. The more stressed and negative I am, the worse my life gets. The more positive I am, the more positive my life is as a whole. As Buddha said, “What you think, you become”.
I didn’t want to think negative and be the person who hates my situation any more. The stress was bad for my health, my healing, and my overall quality of life.
That’s not to say that it’s easy. Hashimoto’s has still been incredibly hard for me…
Believe it or not, I’ve been called out for having a positive outlook and being grateful for my Hashimoto’s as if it was a bad thing. As if I “just haven’t suffered enough” and clearly that’s why I’m grateful. I hate playing the “who has it worse game”, so I refuse to really get into that conversation.
But in reality, we all suffer differently and no one persons journey with their disease is the same. Hashimoto’s, leaky gut, and all of the chronic disease I’ve lived with have been hard. I missed tons of high school, I lost many friends, I became a person I didn’t recognize anymore, I gave up all of my former favorite foods, and I had so many days in bed with pain, fatigue, and more. It has not been easy.
But still, if I dwell on that, I can’t live a happy life… so I choose to force myself to see the positive. Some days that’s easier than others, but I still have to make the effort.
So, how has Hashimoto’s changed my life for the better?
1. Hashimoto’s made me more empathetic to others who are going through health struggles.
Some people are naturally just a good shoulder to cry on. We need those people in the world, and I love those people. Before I got sick, I was never that person. I was awkward, cold, and just couldn’t relate.
Going through my experience with my Hashimoto’s disease and gut issues has showed me what it’s like to be sick, scared, and confused, so I care deeply and relate on a personal level to those who are going through the same.
I love being able to sit down for a cup of tea with someone who’s going through a rough time, hear their heart, and really be empathetic towards them. I needed those people when I first got sick, and I’m glad that I can be that person for others.
2. It inspired me to live a healthy lifestyle and take my health seriously.
I make jokes on my blog about how I’m a recovered french fry and ketchup addict, and it’s literally so accurate. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. I ate a horrifically unhealthy diet, overexercised, and lived anything but a healthy lifestyle and didn’t even realize that it was negatively affecting my health.
Being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s was the wake up call that I needed to take my health seriously. To stop eating junk, to stop unhealthy exercise habits, to get out of unhealthy relationships, and to start living a healthier lifestyle.
Getting Hashimoto’s wasn’t my first sign of being unhealthy. I had signs of leaky gut as early as two years old with random food allergies, chronic ear infections, digestive issues, and blood sugar imbalances that finally came to a head at 17 with my Hashimoto’s diagnosis. I was unwell my entire life… Hashimoto’s was just my bodies way of telling me that I needed to change. And, I am so grateful that it did!
The sad reality is that’s what it takes for so many people to start taking their health seriously, when really we need to take it seriously way before we get to that point. But here I am, and it’s better late than never!
These days, I love the healthy lifestyle I live. I love eating salmon, and vegetables, and drinking bone broth and I’m happy to turn down the fast food that I once love. Yes, people think I’m crazy that I just won’t break down and eat a donut every now and then, but literally, I don’t care. I know how much my health means to me now that I’ve experienced life without it, and I choose to nourish my body with food that I love.
Plus its not the end of the world when I’m enjoying things like these gluten free, dairy free, paleo sweet potato chicken poppers 😉 Yes, you can eat real food that tastes delicious!
3. My journey with Hashimoto’s enables me to inspire others.
Like I said, it still hasn’t been easy. My journey with Hashimoto’s was/(is) tumultuous. I dealt with the insecurity of my weight fluctuating. I had serious social anxiety in college. When I was supposed to be out making friends and having fun, I was having panic attacks at the thought of going out and eating something that would make me sick. I felt weak from not being able to stay awake for more than 6 hours a day or even stand from more than 5 minutes at time. I fainted in high school parking lot and was accused of being a drug addict, I had my endocrinologist call me fat, and I had to quit a dream internship because I was so sick.
And if you have autoimmune disease, you can probably relate to at least one of those things that I just said.
I firmly believe that we live in a fallen world and things like chronic illness just happen. No one is immune, anyone can be struck down by it, and millions have what I have. But I also believe that God but this challenge in my way so I could inspire others who are going through the same.
By acknowledging that I’ve struggled, but have overcome and continue to fight regardless, I’m able to inspire others to keep fighting.
By starting Unbound Wellness, I’m able to share my struggles, my triumphs, and tons of fun recipes that are still delicious even though it’s gluten free, dairy free, grain free, nightshade free, seed free.. and jeez, you get the point, right?
I’m amazed and humbled by the number of people I’ve been able to inspire with my story of fighting and healing. The people I work with one on one in my nutrition practice, the people who have joined my groups, the people who have bought and had success with my gut healing book, the friends I’ve made through blogging and social media, and even just the person who reads my blog that I never hear from. I’m beyond grateful to inspire each and everyone one of the people that I can touch.
At the end of the day, I know it’s hard to live with an autoimmune disease, but it doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to be grateful for.
Taking the high road and choosing to be grateful is hard. But it’s also just that… it’s a choice.
When you make that choice, I guarantee that it will only change your life for the better.