My Health Journey

But you don’t look sick!?

But you don’t look sick!? It seems a common and popular statement made to those that are dealing with auto-immunity. Even when people haven’t said those exact words to me, I can feel them thinking it.

I was afraid of driving. I was in a car accident about 11 years ago-before a lot of my symptoms started and it totally changed me. This could have set a lot of my health issues in motion, or exacerbated already underlying problems. During this time I was going to various doctors and seeing a therapist to help with my overall anxiety, but more specifically anxiety while driving.  I did continue to drive during this time and at certain times even improved, but when new symptoms would pop up, I would revert back to the same driving issues.

Since my main symptoms started with anxiety and panic attacks, and my blood work always came back normal, almost every doctor I went to associated all of my symptoms with an anxiety disorder (even as my number of symptoms continued to increase), and a slight case of I.B.S. About 8 years ago I was diagnosed with Epstein-Barre Virus. The worst of it lasted about 5 months, and it was terrible. I refer to the extreme fatigue and tiredness I had as “The Tiredness”. There’s really no way to explain it unless you’ve experienced it for yourself. I felt like I never fully recovered from that virus. I gained about 25 pounds over the course of the next several years and although I’ve now lost that weight, I have yet to return to the same level of energy I had prior to this virus.

I did not have the energy or motivation to be out all that much. Regular life of being a wife and a mom was exhausting to me.  Cooking, cleaning, school and activities for the boys, work (only part-time) and church took a lot of effort. So much so, that most days I could do one of those things, or maybe a couple of things poorly. I was exhausted a lot, and had to rest frequently, but never actually felt rested. Going out for fun or to special events became harder and harder. This made it extremely difficult to form new friendships and the friends I did have didn’t understand what I was going through. I didn’t understand what I was going through.

I cannot count the number of times, while getting ready to leave the house, that I’ve turned and asked my husband “Do I look as tired as I feel?”. He always tells me no, that I look fine (he tells me this even when I know I look bad, so I’m not sure I can take his word for it). Even though I looked fine, I didn’t feel fine. I felt terrible. Nobody knew and even when I tried to explain it to them I was met with odd comments or a kind of glazed over look. Of course, I often got this same reaction from doctors. One doctor, after getting the results of my blood work which was normal, again, said “Well, I’m not saying you should have rainbows shooting out of your chest, but you’re healthy -this is just how mom’s feel.” I was “healthy” by their standards despite all of my symptoms.

I thought it was all in my head, and the rest was just tiredness or worse, laziness.

Only, I’m not lazy.

This was so hard for me. Not being able to go, go, go and do, do, do. If there was anything I was good at it was pushing myself. And then I couldn’t. Mentally, and at times physically, when my body would ache so badly I would have to literally make myself take the next step. One step. Sometimes, it felt laborious to take a breath. One breath.

You might be thinking, well this is depressing and discouraging, and it was. I was disappointed in myself and my inability to suck it up and do it. I was frustrated that no one could help me figure it out, doctors or otherwise, and I had no answers. I had lost so much of myself. I had lost my energy, and my freedom (since I could no longer drive).

I was anxious all the time and no longer trusted myself.

 

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But I trusted God.

Let me share with you a few of the many things I’ve learned through this.

Most importantly, I’ve learned to lean into Jesus and to depend on him in a way I never had before.

I’ve learned how to pray about everything and trust my instincts regarding my own health.

I’ve learned to let go of what other people might think about me and focus on what God says about me. This is a continual process and one I have personally made great strides in.

During this time I have been a benefactor to His love, grace and mercy, and grown in understanding of what that actually means.

But you don’t look sick?!

“…For man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

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