We are doomed right from the start.
The process of receiving an autoimmune disease diagnosis is long, frustrating, painful, and draining.
It all begins when our health starts to deteriorate. We ignore it for a bit, thinking it will pass like a cold or sore muscle. (It doesn’t.)
Eventually, we head to the doctor, hoping for a diagnosis and an easy fix. Instead, we don’t even receive a diagnosis and are told it’s just “anxiety” or that we are literally crazy. It’s all in our heads. We’re offered some anti-depressants and sent on our way.
Meanwhile, our bodies continue to degrade. Our work, social, and family life suffer. We go back to our doctor, pleading to dig deeper, and we are referred to the “specialists.”
Some get lucky. A rheumatologist or an endocrinologist *might* take what we say seriously, run some tests, and find that we have positive autoimmune markers. Hopefully, those markers fit into a perfect little box of criteria that give us a diagnosis of Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Hashimoto’s Disease, or one of 200 other known autoimmune diseases.
But, for us less fortunate folks, it will take 6-10 different doctors before we receive our diagnosis, it might even turn out to be an “undiagnosed” autoimmune disease.
And then, after dragging our bodies from doctor to doctor and watching our health slip away for years, we are finally given the ultimate words of encouragement.
“You have [insert autoimmune disease here]. It’s an irreversible disease that attacks your [insert body part here]. We don’t know what causes it. We don’t know how to stop it. But we can give you [insert an expensive, immunosuppressant or chemotherapy drug] to manage your symptoms. You’ll likely need a higher dose as the disease progresses, and sometimes your body stops responding to the drug, so we will have to try another.”
Many of us accept this as the only option, the final answer. Not to mention the grim prognosis of a shortened life expectancy, or possibly some day needing a wheelchair, going blind, or losing organ function.
That’s it. Zero hope. We walk out the door, grieving the loss of the life we once knew… wondering how we’re going to make it another day living with our chronic exhaustion and pain.
The saddest part though?
It’s all a lie.
I fell victim to the same rhetoric, and perhaps you did too.
Somehow though, through a friend, book, or the internet – we find a tiny glimmer of hope that maybe we weren’t given the full story. Maybe, it IS possible to reverse autoimmune disease and feel well again by using things like food as our medicine, and actually nourishing our bodies – not polluting them.
But you see, so many of us jump right into the diets, the supplements, the alternative therapies, and finding “holistic” doctors without ever taking the time to address the most important part of the game: our mentality. Our resilience.
When all the interventions fail (and there will be plenty of failures), your mentality and resilience is what keeps you pushing through the obstacles when you just want to quit. In order to build these, you need three things.
And finally some good news… They are absolutely FREE.
3 (Completely Free) Things You Need to Overcome Autoimmune Disease
1. A Strong “Why”
“Why” is the purpose of your mission to win the war against your autoimmune disease. The stronger it is, the better.
This might seem like an easy thing to determine. If I were to ask the majority of people why they want to overcome their autoimmune disease, I would receive an answer similar to:
“I want to feel better!” or… “I want my life back!”
These are great reasons… initially. But a hard lesson that I, and many others, have learned is that managing an autoimmune disease is lifelong. This isn’t an illness that just disappears (though, I have heard of that happening in some cases – lucky ducks). Relapses & flares can cause irreversible damage, as well miserable days, weeks, and even months.
For most, this is a disease that can be managed (and managed well), but not without a significant lifestyle overhaul. And 30 days into that lifestyle overhaul, your energy might return. Your pain might subside.
Before you know it, you ARE feeling better, and then… you’re tempted. You’re tempted to break from your diet, stay up late, and do all the things you did before. Why not? You’re feeling well and that nagging voice keeps telling you that a small bite of gluten won’t hurt.
So, I ask, what’s going to help you fight off the temptations and stick to this healing lifestyle for the rest of your life? It has to be something much deeper than just wanting to feel better. It must be embedded in your core.
There must be passion behind your lifestyle – so much so, that if you were cured tomorrow, you wouldn’t fully return to your old ways of living because you’ve found a deeper meaning behind it all.
It could be based on your faith, beliefs, family values, or the environment. For us, it’s a combination of all those things and it continues to evolve and strengthen over time.
You may not think you have a solid “why” yet, but as you learn about recovering from autoimmune disease, tune into your emotions – is there anything that’s sparking your interest? Anything that’s making you angry? Fired up? This is what you need to tap into to find your Why.
I know how it feels to be in the thick of symptoms for a really, really long time. Honestly, it’s hard to believe recovery is even possible after years of fighting an uphill battle. Too much damage has already occurred – both physically and mentally.
Recovery is possible. But you have to believe it. You need to have HOPE for healing. And you need to believe that you can change your habits, behaviors, diet, and more, even when it seems impossible.
If you start every day with an “I can’t” type of attitude:
“I can’t get out of bed.”
“I can’t make it down the stairs.”
“I can’t give up [a specific type of food].”
Then it doesn’t matter what happens afterwards – you’ve already limited yourself.
In fact, I reflected on this recently – I thought about how I made changes to my lifestyle (like making all of my food) when I could barely stand for 5 minutes due to exhaustion. I thought of all the tips I could give to our readers to help them do the same, but I always came back to one thing…
Without a doubt, belief is the only reason I was able to push myself through the thick of my symptoms – the bone-crushing fatigue, and start making changes.
Henry Ford has an awesome quote that illustrates this beautifully.
“Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right.”
This isn’t a suggestion. It’s a requirement. Your mind is powerful. BELIEVE, every day, that you can heal. Believe in the changes you’re making, the new habits you’re forming, and watch, as your body rebuilds itself piece by piece.
3. A willingness to set your pride aside, question, unlearn, & re-learn.
This is, without a doubt, one of the most important attributes needed to overcome autoimmune disease, but it’s also the one thing that the majority of people lack.
- And who openly looks to experience all of these things at once?
My suggestion is to take everything you think you know about health – everything you’ve been taught, everything you’ve practiced and question it.
Question your doctors. Question your treatment. Find out if there are alternatives. Identify the risks, the benefits. Dive into therapies that you never thought you’d consider. And when you come across something that challenges what you think is right – be willing to see the other side, and admit that you could actually be wrong – that yes, even the majority of people and doctors could be wrong. (Remember, the majority of people once believed the Earth was flat.)
It’s vital to set our pride aside, expose the layers of what we think we know to see if it all makes sense, and re-learn if it doesn’t.
A few real-life examples of my own pride getting in the way of my autoimmune healing:
- I avoided a strict gluten-free and dairy-free diet for years because I thought it was just a fad. I never even researched it – I just assumed there was nothing to it.
- I thought my doctors knew everything and that their opinion was the BEST opinion. I never thought to question because… well, I didn’t go to medical school and I didn’t know what I was talking about.
- I ate loads of grains and dairy because that’s what I learned from the food pyramid, instead of questioning, that perhaps, the food pyramid is wrong, at least for my body.
- I believed that pharmaceutical and OTC drugs were the superior & only option for managing disease. Everything else was just placebo or quackery.
- I laughed at the idea of homeopathy. Literally laughed and thought: “all those people are loonies”, because I have a degree in Chemistry, and know that something like homeopathy couldn’t possibly work.
And yet, here I am today – not only on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, but the Autoimmune Protocol diet. Not only questioning my doctors but actually leading my healthcare team and working in partnership. And we don’t even have Tylenol or Aspirin in our home because homeopathy is so effective for any of our ailments – even autoimmune disease.
You see, it was me that got in the way of my healing. I self-sabotaged much of my healing journey due to my pride and thinking I knew best. And I see this same thing happening to other people. Every. Single. Day.
Do you want to streamline your recovery? If so, wipe your slate clean. Take away everything you think you know, and rebuild your foundation with an open mind. It will change your life.
Your attitude towards healing from autoimmune disease will determine whether you succeed or not.
If you haven’t heard a story like mine, don’t think it’s unique. People are living with autoimmune disease and thriving every day. We are the healthiest (“sick”) people in America. But its takes everything I mentioned in this article. So the question is…
Do you believe it’s possible to heal? Do you have a solid reason to embark on this trans-formative journey, and understand the essence of your beliefs? Are you ready to learn with an open mind, and not be convinced just because someone (or the internet) tells you its fact?
The answers to these questions are what will get you started. And eventually, they will be your driving force that pushes you through your toughest obstacles. Believe me. It’s worth the effort once you find what works for you.
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Hi! I’m Anna, co-founder of Healthy Habits Reset. After managing my own autoimmune diseases using lifestyle, habit, and mindset changes, I now work to teach others how to navigate the treacherous and confusing journey of chronic illness living. I firmly believe YOU hold the power to question, think critically, and become your own rock-solid advocate in a world full of unhealthy habits. Consider me, and my husband, Frank, your autoimmune disease health coaches. Are you ready?!