You might be asking yourself, does the world really need another autoimmune blog?
Well, good question. I guess the answer is no, and yes. No because there are a whole lot of people out there doing a really good job of raising awareness, inventing amazing recipes, and spreading the love. Yes, because I believe every person’s journey is highly personal and unique to them. The very nature of autoimmune conditions makes them integral your whole lifestyle, which I suspect is part of what has made them so hard to treat via the ‘go to your GP’ route – a holistic approach, whether that incorporates multiple types of medication or not, seems to be the most effective.
So here’s my picture.
Chronic anxiety for as long as I can remember, which manifested itself in varying ways over the years: food phobias, emetophobia (phobia of vomiting), panic attacks, dissociative states (the lights are on but no-one’s home), dermatillomania (obsessive skin picking), and at it’s worst, self harming and depression. This is just the way I have always been. I am hard-wired for anxiety, and I don’t know why. On the flip side I am highly sensitive, empathetic and care deeply so…swings and roundabouts?
Asthma and allergies throughout my teens and onwards. Dermatographic urticara (where you can pretty much draw on your skin just by touching it). Endless sneezing and wheezing bouts. Allergies which came and went seemingly without rhyme or reason, with long bouts being dependent on antihistamines and steroid nasal sprays. For a long time I refused to believe I had asthma, given that it didn’t come on when I exercised, but a dangerously poor peak flow reading and the fact I was using my rescue inhaler up to 8 times a night resulted in a stern talking to from the asthma nurse and a strong steroid inhaler. Stupid, I know.
Ulcerative colitis – you can read the full, (lengthy, TMI!) story in the next post. This recent addition has left me sensitive to wheat, dairy, caffeine, and working extremely hard to try and reinstate a happy status quo in my gut.
All my little friends, but the colitis in particular, are HUGELY stress triggered. So here’s the rest of the picture.
My (beautiful, crazily creative) 5 year old is on the waiting list for assessment for autism spectrum conditions due to her extremely challenging behaviour. This process has been utterly fraught with stress, frustration and anxiety, as she is the master of hiding/bottling up her issues at school and unleashing them at home. I am increasingly curious about the dynamic between gut issues/autism/highly sensitive personalities.
Her (hilarious, gorgeous) 2 year old sister was born with a small ischemic brain injury, which has resulted in mild right-sided hemiplegia (stiffness and weakness throughout her right side). This child is a pure sunbeam but her needs mean that we spend a lot of time doing physio together, and getting from hospital appointment to appointment, which means a lot of travel (often 1.5 hours or more), as I don’t drive. And long journeys with a partially potty trained two-year old are…well, not exactly enjoyable.
I am so fortunate in so many ways. I am able to work part-time locally for a very understanding employer. Both my children are healthy. We live in a beautiful part of the world. However, I won’t be around to enjoy these things if I drive myself into the ground and ignore the red warning flags my body is throwing up in my face. Last year’s experience was a wake-up call. Time to face these issues head on! I promise every post won’t be a big pity party. I’m genuinely excited about finding new ways to feel better and recording my progress.