To be honest with you, I debated on whether or not to write this post.
Part of me was thinking “Haven’t I shared my story enough?” Most of my followers should know it by now, right? And people who might be new to the “F.a.s.t. Life” can read my story on my website.
Except then I thought back to how I felt a few years ago, when I literally felt HOPELESS and HELPLESS. Like no one else in the world could understand what I was going through and that there was little or no light at the end of the tunnel.
And you know what I remember doing?
Spending hours on the internet… reading articles, blog posts, forum messages… anything and everything I could to find other people that shared my experience. In fact, not only did I not tire of reading their stories, but they became like a lifeline. An inspiration, a glimmer of hope that hey, if this person got through it/got better/moved on… then maybe I can too.
So for those of you that don’t mind me sharing again, here it is, MY STORY. It’s a long one!
Most of my physical health issues started near the end of 2011. I had just started to get back on my feet after a four year abusive relationship and the death of my father. I was living in a nice condo and had a fairly decent job - I loved my coworkers but I worked 2nd shift (and even 3rd shift briefly) so my hours pretty much sucked. I became more active at my church and even got baptized and things were going pretty well.
But then different health issues started popping up… dizziness, insomnia, shakiness, constipation, acne, headaches, heart palpitations, a mysterious pain in my left side under my ribs. I went to my PCP who couldn’t find anything “wrong” with me and even had a colonoscopy to make sure nothing was wrong there and got the all clear.
I went on to a new job in January of 2012 and from there, things got much worse. First of all, I HATED my job. I was very uncomfortable with my coworkers and boss and felt like I was under constant “watch” at my desk. I had to watch how many photos I put up, how long I was away from my desk, and had to sit in a small room with no windows or even a radio all day, every day. But my physical symptoms got worse too. The pain in my side that was once intermittent, became a daily occurrence. I became so fatigued that I literally couldn’t get through the workday without taking a nap in my car at lunchtime. My vision became blurred to the point where I had to get glasses to read or look at the computer. And I started experiencing brain fog that caused me not only to have trouble concentrating, but to actually get confused about where to get on the highway one morning on my way to work even though I had been driving that same road for years (which of course, scared the daylights out of me).
I didn’t know what was wrong, but I knew my body and I knew something wasn’t right.
Again, I went to my PCP, my OB/GYN, a gastroenterologist (both a PA and an MD), an endocrinologist and a cardiologist… only to be told over and over again, that “nothing was wrong with me.” And to add insult to injury, offered anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medications.
I was frustrated, tired and angry. And I just wanted to feel “normal” again. That dragged on for the entire year of 2012. Until I finally decided to see a naturopathic doctor.
At my first visit with him, I didn’t feel crazy anymore. He not only acknowledged all of my symptoms, but had reasons for all of them and explained why they were exasperating one another. Hallelujah!
We started to work on one issue at a time with natural remedies and supplements and I even did a VERY restricted diet (called the Repairvite Diet) to repair my “leaky gut.” My stomach started to feel better, I started to go to the bathroom again, sleep through the night again, my face cleared up and I even stopped shaking so much (which I had done for as long as I can remember).
I was actually starting to feel hopeful… and then my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
My mom (who was also my very best friend) had not gone to the doctor my whole life. Seriously. So, over 30 years. She also hadn’t been to the dentist in that long either. Both because she was afraid. But amazingly, she always had nice teeth and never really had any health issues.
But as she got older, my sister and I would literally BEG her to go to the doctor. Especially when my dad ended up being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in 2005. But no matter what tactic we would try (my sister using her kids for a guilt trip and me using the “I want you here for my wedding” guilt trip), she would say “I know… you’re right… I will…” and then still not go.
So when she got the diagnosis, we were not only upset but frustrated as well. But we hoped for the best and I personally, knew that God was in control of the situation no matter what.
It still didn’t make it any easier though to lose her just six months later.
Not only did I lose my mom and best friend way too soon, but I was sad for her that she had “run out of time.” She had things that she still wanted to do, not just in her future, but even later that year, that she didn’t get to do.
I had to read in her journals later, how she had let fear keep her back from doing so many of the things she had dreamt or talked about doing in her life.
I’m not gonna lie, it was depressing.
But it also lit a spark under me.
This was NOT going to be the ending to my story too. And I was going to live with some extra gusto just for her!
So after admittedly going off of my health track while my mom was sick and for a couple months after her passing, I got back on the horse so to speak.
If I was going to do this life thing right, then I needed to be healthy.
So I started seeing a new naturopathic doctor, who was closer to me geographically but who also did muscle testing (which I was very intrigued by). I had also determined in the meantime by MY OWN RESEARCH, that I had advanced adrenal fatigue, which the new doctor confirmed. I found a neuromuscular therapist online (while searching for safe exercises to do while recovering from AF) who had also been through AF herself (coincidence? I think not.) and we began working to repair some of my reflexes that had gone out of whack.
Let me take just a second to explain what AF is on a side note, since most “traditional doctors” will say it’s not real. Adrenal fatigue occurs when your body’s “fight or flight” response has been overworked and eventually burns out completely. This can be from things like an athlete overtraining, a “traumatic” injury or surgery, a prolonged period of stress or like in my case, a series of major stressors back to back.
Your body gets so used to being in “emergency” mode, that it just sort of gets stuck there. So then even simple things like picking up a load of laundry off the floor or (when it was REALLY bad for me) even going from a sitting to standing position causes all of those reactions to go off - the pounding heart, the shortened breath, the GI disruption, the lightheadedness.
Basically, your body is always preparing for an emergency, whether there is one or not. Needless to say, after a 4 year roller coaster of a relationship, my father’s death, a very stressful job, a major surgery, odd work hours, a poor diet and then my mother’s death… I’m surprised my adrenals didn’t give out altogether.
But back to the good news… I found a third member of my “dream team” (as I like to call them), an occupational therapist who taught me how to start using meditations to calm my body and release old emotions/traumas.
I went back to my gluten free diet and also cut out about 90% of dairy and sugar (I will still have some cheese once in awhile and even though I try to buy grocery items that have no sugar added, occasionally a few grams sneak in there). I started making a smoothie every single morning for breakfast. I started taking supplements every day that my body needed. I started doing exercises and meditations and gave my body time every day to just be “quiet.”
And ya know what? I started to feel better.
But I didn’t want to stop there. In the midst of my new journey, I found out about tiny houses through the documentary, “Tiny.” I had always been someone who put more worth in experiences and time spent with friends and family than material possessions, so I knew this was the path for me.
I had a very modest amount of money that my mom had left me and I knew that I could use the same amount to put a down payment on a “traditional” house or condo, or I could buy a tiny house outright and be mortgage-free! Plus, I always liked to take little road trips and mini-vacations (one of my mom’s and my favorite things to do together), so how cool would it be to be able to take my house with me??
So, with my new improved attitude and my new improved body, I decided to make it happen. I didn’t want to think about it or dream about it but then never do it, like my mom would’ve done. I wanted to DO it. So I took the leap and downsized my life’s belongings, getting rid of about 80% or 90% of it.
I only kept enough to fit into a 160 square foot tiny house.
I also committed to doing my freelance writing full time, since it had always been my passion since I was a child but I had never “trusted” that I could make a living from it.
I let go of negative or toxic relationships in my life, I educated myself about the products I was using on my body and in my home and got rid of all the toxic stuff. I focused more on my faith and I set out to start living the life I had been living in my head, in reality.
You know the one I mean… where you think about taking up jet skiing or learning to swim, or you think about walking into a room confident and charming or you think about starting your own company and loving what you do… and then you promptly go back to your routine after the daydream is over.
Now, let me be the first to tell you that my life is not all rainbows and unicorns. Far from it.
My “tiny house dream” turned into a “tiny house nightmare” pretty quickly when I realized that the house had a LOT of issues with craftsmanship, structure and function. And after living in it for just a few months, I had to demand my money back.
But I was blessed to get a refund and a chance to do it all over again and now, I know what to do differently this time around.
I still have a little further to go to get my health back to 100%, but the difference between me now and me just a little over a year ago, is night and day.
I don’t have to take a nap to get through the day (but if I do feel like I need one once in awhile, you can bet I take one and don’t feel guilty about it at all!), my stomach is better, my headaches are gone completely, I sleep through the night and my body is finally realizing it is okay to relax.
I make room in my schedule and my budget for things that bring me joy and help others. I do what I love for a living. And I make my health and my self-care a priority.
It’s funny, because none of it is “rocket science.” Yet, when you learn these things and start to incorporate them in your life, it’s like a light has been turned on. It’s like the blinders come off and you start wondering what the heck you’ve been doing up until now.
But what I want to say to you is, you can do this too.
I know some of you might be where I was at a few years ago… frustrated, tired and angry. You might be tired of having doctors tell you nothing is wrong with you. You may be tired of running the material “rat race” and tired of all your junk. Or maybe you just want more joy in your life.
But no matter which of these you fall into, there is hope. I have been there, so I can tell you from experience! It DOES get better!
The important thing is DON’T GIVE UP. Take control of your health. Take care of your body. Stand out and be different. Don’t worry about trying to keep up with appearances, buying the latest gadgets or drowning yourself in debt.
You can live a life that is simplified or “cleaned up,” yet is still fabulous and abundant.
So don’t let fear hold you back any longer. The time is now.
LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO WAIT.