If you are reading this, you likely have an autoimmune disease or you suspect you might. That was me a year and a half ago. I had a myriad of debilitating symptoms and absolutely no answers. My doctors were clueless. I was misdiagnosed and given different prescriptions, but I was only getting worse.
Before even getting an actual autoimmune diagnosis, I stumbled upon the Autoimmune Protocol.
If you’ve never heard of the Autoimmune Protocol (or AIP), it is a healing protocol for those with autoimmune disease that includes dietary and lifestyle changes. Desperate to get well, and motivated by reading so many positive accounts, I started the paleo-style diet immediately.
I found some success after implementing the diet, but after a few months I just wasn’t getting better. Like many others out there, I focused pretty heavily on eliminating foods, but not enough on the rest of the protocol. Not eating dairy was easy enough, but other parts of the protocol like getting enough sleep and managing stress, were more difficult. I also knew that I really needed to find a new doctor, someone who could help me navigate my seemingly unrelated symptoms.
At this point, I was so fed up with my current doctors that I had ordered some of my own blood tests, including a full thyroid panel. I just knew in my bones that there was something really wrong. I got my results and there it was. Hashimoto’s on paper. But I wanted more answers. I wanted to know how and why I had this disease, so I took to google and found a functional medicine doctor twenty minutes away from my home. I immediately called to schedule a consultation.
I was so scared on the drive to my consultation. I was so scared in the waiting room. At this point, I was so debilitated by my symptoms and my anxiety that leaving the house, having to face anyone (even a doctor that was hopefully going to help me) was tremendously difficult. The doctor came out to greet me. I could barely look him in the eyes. I felt so much shame for being that sick. How could I have let it get to this point?
The doctor took one look at my blood work and confirmed what I already knew. I had Hashimoto’s.
I was terrified, but relieved that I wasn’t completely insane. The doctor suggested that we do more testing and I agreed. I wanted to know more. What was the root cause of my autoimmunity? Did I have other autoimmune conditions? I somehow managed not to fall apart during my appointment, but I hurried to the semi privacy of my car to cry. I was so sick of crying. I felt like all I did was cry, but this time it was different. This time, I had some answers, with more to come.
I anxiously waited the next 6 weeks for all of my test results to come back. It was really difficult for me to have patience. I had already spent so many days of my life living from one moment to the next, just trying to get by. Finally the doctor called and I went in for another appointment. No surprise, my results were a mess. Multiple gut infections, adrenal fatigue, food sensitives (that I already knew about thanks to AIP), severe nutrient deficiencies, leaky gut, low hormones across the board, and another autoimmune disease: Celiac. I was completely overwhelmed, but so glad to actually have the answers I’d been looking for!
I started a pretty rigorous supplement protocol to target my specific concerns, all while continuing the strict AIP elimination phase. Having such a restricted diet was hard, but it didn’t matter. I would have done anything to get well. Within the first month, I was doing noticeably better. After another two, I was seeing even more improvements.
Eventually though, I felt like I hit a road-block with my healing.
I was eating the right foods, taking supplements, doing yoga, getting better sleep, and trying to meditate. What the hell? I was doing everything right. Why did I feel stuck? Deep down I knew. I knew the roots of my illness extended far beyond gut health or hormones. I was well aware of the sad state of my mental and emotional health. But who wants to deal with that? Not me. I procrastinated as long as I could, but I reached a breaking point. Address these deep-rooted issues, or live my life at fifty percent.
The rest of this story is all about healing beyond food and my leap to heal with a heart-centered approach. You can read it here.