There is some irony in this post. I had hoped to write it up over the weekend and present it early in this week, but for the very reasons I am about to discuss, was unable to muster the energy and focus to do so. As such it has served in yet another lesson in how life has to go now.
For those of you who are new here, I will bring you up to speed. Officially, there is nothing wrong with me. I have had a few tests done, mostly centered around thyroid function. They have come up normal. As much as it pains me to put things this way, unofficially I appear to have an underactive thyroid (dubbed sub-clinical by my nutritionist), adrenal fatigue and a hormonal imbalance. This came about heavily from three years of working full time in a job and being a part time graduate student. As soon as I finished my course work in August of 2011, my energy crashed. I imagine what happened is the constant stressed/alert state I was in took a major toll on my adrenals. Adrenals are tied in with the thyroid as well as with the endocrine system. Since that summer (almost two years now!) my energy levels have been very low, and about six months after, my weight started to creep up. Fast.
I have been working with my friend Bari, who is a holistic nutritionist, since early this year. She has helped me to modify my diet and include herbal supplements to help heal the body.
Just as Roma was not built in a day, though, my health problems did not come about fast. Nor will they be reversed quickly. No matter how much I wish for that to happen.
In an ideal world, I’d be able to sleep for 8 or more hours a day, have a short drive to work, do my job, and be able to share household duties in order to allow me the rest I need to recover.
Too bad I don’t live in an ideal world.
I live close enough to my job that driving to it is silly, but taking public transportation both ways turns a less than 10 minute drive into 40-45 minutes of walking, waiting, and bus riding. The only income I have is my own, so cutting down on hours does not help any. (And as of yet I do not make a steady income from blogging) And I also continue to insist on being ambitious and have other stuff going on in my life. Most notably a spiritual life, writing projects, practicing to become a professional bellydancer, and occasionally having a social life. Trying to juggle all these things is difficult, and I know many people in the real food community have health issues, so I want to present my ways of managing and inspiration that you can do it.
1. Get enough rest and sleep! I have trouble getting into bed early, most often because I am scrambling just to take care of the basics every day and they now take longer. But I have found that even getting into bed earlier can help with my feeling rested. If I cannot do that, I do my best not to stress about late bedtimes.
I also take naps after work during the days (or weeks, like now) when my sleep is not going so well or I am just having a slump in health.
2. Prioritize! You can’t do all the things, so don’t even try to. I’ve had to cut out a good deal of my fermenting because I just do not have enough time available even to cut up the veggies and monitor their progress. Take stock of what matters most and what cannot fall by the wayside. When you have the time and energy, pick up what has been missed.
For me, the biggest priority is my day job. It is what keeps me afloat, therefore most of my energy goes there. Which explains why this blog has not gotten the love it deserves.
3. Keep lists! My lifesaver over the last few years. If I do not write down some things, they do not happen. It also helps at work so I do not forget about deadlines.
4. Give yourself permission not to do things. I’m an ambitious woman and want to do a lot with my life and if I cannot achieve what I want, I may start to mentally beat myself up. This is not going to help anyone. If you get the essentials done (see number 2), you are doing well. Consider anything else a bonus.
5. Get all the support you can get. Whether it be family or friends, having sympathetic people in your sphere can go a long way. Let your boss and coworkers know about your problems and that sometimes you cannot Do All The Things. Remind people in your own life about this. I don’t like that I have to do it still, but I do. Otherwise things would just get worse.
6. Eat well. STOP eating any foods which disagree with you, no matter how much you might like them. One portion of my health regiment which I have mentioned before is going gluten-free. I’m still not perfect and forget about some foods including gluten, but the restriction helps. Given that my reaction to gluten now is lethargy and headaches, staying away from it means I am less likely to have a slump in energy levels.
7. Be patient and keep loving yourself. If you do all the outer steps but do not nurture yourself, your efforts will only go so far.
If you have chronic health problems, what do you find helps you on your healing journey?