Reprinted with the kind permission of Sue Ingebretson
Have you ever felt alone in your chronic illness? Is there isolation in your healing? As though no one else has a clue what you’re going through? Maybe your fibromyalgia doctors don’t listen. Your family nods, yet you know they’re tired of hearing. What if I told you that you’re not alone? In fact, what if you discovered that you have everything you need – right now – to heal … from the inside out?
This past weekend, after attending the funeral of a good friend, I dug through some old files on my hard drive. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I felt pulled to sort through old posts, articles, and bits of writings that were so important to me a decade or so ago.
What surprised me was this.
I’d forgotten about the isolation. I’m now surrounded by positive people and, more importantly, the positive dialogue inside my own head.
But, it wasn’t always that way.
Here’s a scrap of something I wrote years ago. I think I wrote it shortly after finishing my book, FibroWHYalgia. I want to share it with you now, because I know that the emotions described still hold true today.
I used to feel alone with my negativity, hopelessness, and isolation. I was surrounded by people – traditional medical professionals – yet, I couldn’t deny that gnawing, empty feeling. I had no faith in their words. They made no sense to me. Was I really supposed to accept a life of constant, unrelenting pain?
Living with chronic illness is isolating. It’s hard to focus on relationships, family, friends, and careers when your body’s pain receptors shriek with every move. It’s tough to ignore. But, who was I to also ignore the advice of established authorities? I was told by countless doctors to go home, lie down, take my medications as prescribed, and review my legal options for disability. I already walked with a cane … how long until I needed the scooter chair they recommended?
Doubt persisted. My inner voice urged me to ignore conventional wisdom and look elsewhere. I was a natural researcher – the daughter of parents who read, absorbed, and taught what they knew. I collected volumes of study materials and developed a profound fascination for how the body works. I studied nutrition, physiology, and psychology. Time and again, I tripped over information that went against the grain of what I’d been told. Through my education, I transformed from a nutritionally illiterate mom to one who voraciously read books on the digestive system, the nutritive value of natural foods, and the relationship between foods, moods, and healing.
I left behind a rheumatologist who said, “What you eat doesn’t matter” and instead followed my own inner wisdom. I learned that food does matter. I learned that fitness and physical strength matters. Above all, I learned that what and how we think matters. All three components — what I call the Restoration Trio — braid together forming a bond of ultimate lifestyle balance. They are nutrition, body movement, and emotional wellness.
Rebuilding my body from the ground up didn’t happen overnight, although some changes occurred quickly. Nearly a decade ago, I’d never heard of wheat free, gluten free, or dairy free diets. I had no game plan to remove foods that were toxic; I only planned to add foods that were healing. I ate more salads, more veggies, and drank more water. No rocket science involved. But traditional science couldn’t explain my rapid improvements. The pain in my hands and wrists noticeably diminished within just a week or so. My digestive troubles and foggy thinking improved over time. I pressed on eating a balanced diet of fresh, whole, fiber-rich and nutrient-dense foods.
My body said, “Thank you.”
Feeling much better, I added a fitness regimen to my routine. I joined a local gym and worked out regularly. Yes, my body pain still existed, but as I built muscle strength, my pain slowly ebbed away. My cane gathered dust in the trunk of my car.
The toughest challenge on my wellness journey was to heal my thoughts. I discovered that my body felt and experienced every negative emotion. My inner guide again kicked in, telling me to have patience with my progress. Healing takes time. I found far healthier ways to deal with stress than the negative self-talk I was accustomed to. Wonderfully healing practices such as tai chi and restorative yoga became lifesavers for me.
Restoring my physical health is nothing short of miraculous, but that’s not the most important discovery made. The real miracle was learning to trust my inner wisdom. I’ve healed my body from the inside out and guide others, through my books and coaching, to do the same. By trusting in myself – even against conventional wisdom – I’ve developed a community of friends, colleagues, and even strangers who share their experiences and thoughts with me
I am not alone.
I now know that I’m no longer isolated. I’ve discovered that reaching out begins by reaching within.
Have you discovered this for yourself, too? Please share your experiences below!
Sue Ingebretson is the Natural Healing Editor for ProHealth.com as well as a frequent contributor to ProHealth's Fibromyalgia site. She’s an Amazon best-selling author, speaker, and workshop leader. Additionally, Sue is an Integrative Nutrition & Health Coach, a Certified Nutritional Therapist, a Master NLP Practitioner, and the director of program development for the Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Center at California State University, Fullerton. You can find out more and contact Sue at www.RebuildingWellness.com.