In my last post I came clean and admitted to autoimmune disease. Some would say that was the wrong thing to do – that I should not even associate myself with words like “sick” or “disease”. I shouldn’t say that I’m ill, because based on the Law of Attraction that which we declare we perpetuate. Many of my colleagues in my graduate degree program advised against the original name for this site which included the word “sick” (a name I still love and will likely use in the future). And, ultimately, I am grateful for that advice because I happened upon the even better, certainly more positive name -HappyHealthyHer.com. Still, I’m not convinced that “sick” is such a dirty word.
Denial is Dangerous
I appreciate the “always be positive” perspective and believe very heavily in the power of the mind, but the stumbling block for me is that the people who advise against admitting to disease are typically not sick. They don’t know what it is really like to battle fatigue, pain, digestive problems, anxiety, or the host of other symptoms that often get packaged in with chronic illness. The reality of illness often can’t be denied. And, the truth is, denial is very dangerous when you live with any form of disease. I know, because I did it for years, only to have my autoimmune disease progress. As they say, “if I only knew then what I know now!”
What I should have done upon first being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis is acknowledge the disease and start to question why it was happening. I knew I had a genetic component since my Mom had it as well, but genes are malleable (Read The Genie in your Genes to learn more), they don’t predict disease or force its hand. So why would the immune system of an otherwise healthy, young woman begin to turn on itself as it does in autoimmune conditions? In conventional medicine there is no good answer for this question, but upon seeking additional health resources and taking a more holistic approach, some potential answers become clear.
The Anatomy of Autoimmune Disease
Dr. Wayne London (an instructor for The Graduate Institute) explains autoimmune disease as, “The person’s immune system, meant to defend against germs and not-self, instead directs its fury against the person’s own tissues – self. It’s the physiological equivalent of friendly fire.” In the case of thyroid disease he believes that it is a situation particularly common in women since they are suppressing their 5th chakra (the throat area where the thyroid resides) by not speaking their truths. I can certainly relate. As a young woman, when I first developed the disease, I always felt as though I was doing and saying what others wanted me to. In addition, as an overachiever, I was constantly beating myself up when I didn’t perform according to my unrealistic expectations. When I thought negatively of myself, I was essentially attacking myself, just as the immune system attacks itself in autoimmune disorders.
Looking Back, Heading Forward
So, in retrospect, I can see that my illness was likely related to a host of stressors – my own worried, self-conscious disposition, a poor diet, a negative environment, genetic predisposition. I understand that now, and with that knowledge I can move forward. In the next post I will share just how I have put the past behind me, so that I can live for the now and begin to embrace a new four-letter word – “well.”