When you’re hit out-of-the-blue with symptoms like fatigue and joint pain, you may feel lost and overwhelmed. There are so many ways of approaching the problem, or moving through the emotions that accompany a health crisis, that taking the first step is often quite difficult.
For Roxanne, the desperation she experienced drove her to research, explore, and try new things, focusing on her health in a holistic sense (mind, body, and spirit). In her story, she describes the particular path she took to get herself feeling better and thriving.
I was living and working in New York City when a diagnosis of lupus, at the age of 27, changed my life forever.
It all started with my hands – as I tried to explain then, they just stopped working. Swollen and painful joints made it hard to even make my bed. I was experiencing unexplained weight loss and fatigue to the point where I was unable to stay awake past 8pm, and I was feeling anxious and depressed.
In a state of desperation, I took on my health like a full-time job. Willing to try just about anything to feel even a tiny bit better, I dove headfirst into meditation, something that was foreign to me. It took much practice to quiet what meditation teachers call the “monkey mind,” allowing me to give myself the time and space to sit in stillness and find some ease in my mind and body.
“When I was meditating… I was giving my
nervous and immune systems a break”
Back then, mindfulness and meditation were not the buzz words they are today. But I found my spiritual home through different teachers in New York City, including Gabby Bernstein who is now widely popular and well known for her books, trainings, and Super Soul Sunday talks with Oprah.
I didn’t realize at the time what a necessary break I was giving my nervous and immune systems when I allowed myself to get quiet in the minutes I was meditating. This was my gateway into trusting my intuition. I believed that I would get better and my affirmation “thank you for my healing” flowed through me daily.
From there I moved on to my diet and read books like “Crazy Sexy Diet” by Kris Carr, a cancer survivor and thriver as she calls herself, and “The Autoimmune Recovery Plan” by Dr. Susan Blum, a functional medicine doctor who herself healed from an autoimmune condition. These two books helped me navigate an elimination diet that taught me gluten, dairy, and soy were not my friends. Without those foods in my system, my joint pain and swelling started to dissipate. I knew that movement helped me with the fatigue and inflammation and so I made the gym a part of my daily routine, even if only for 15-20 minutes on the bike. I also incorporated pilates and yoga, which I still practice today.
I never imagined having the kind of energy that I do now. It allows me to care for my two little ones, daschund, and husband all while working as a health coach and development professional outside Washington, DC.
I see my story as one of hope and inspiration and it is my mission to help others achieve positive and lasting changes in their own lives.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Global Autoimmune Institute. The experiences and health outcomes described in this article are unique to the author and do not serve as medical advice.
Interested in sharing your story of autoimmune disease or chronic illness? Head over to How to Tell Your Chronic Illness Story for prompts and tips!