How I Reclaimed My Life from Chronic Pain
Life is a constant state of reclaiming. At least my life is. For every loss I faced, I must then reclaim a life I want. Whatever the struggle, I have to come back and reclaim the life I have chosen. What other choice is there? Giving up? That’s no choice at all.
It’s easy to fall into a rut or lose control of your life in one way or another. Often, I’ve not even realized it’s happened until it’s too late. At that point I must work a lot harder to reclaim my life.
Reclaiming my life from chronic illness was definitely the hardest thing I’ve done. Largely because I spent a lot of time feeling that I couldn’t do it. I felt like it was not in my control.
When chronic illness takes your life away you feel like you have no control. You feel as if no matter what you do you’ll never get your life back, that it’s gone for good. Thankfully, that’s not true. Life can be reclaimed, even from chronic illness.
I chose to reclaim my life, to rebuild. It will never be exactly the same as it was pre-illness, but that’s OK. There will always be concessions and changes, but life is always full of concessions and changes whether or not you are dealing with chronic illness.Reclaiming my life from chronic illness was definitely the hardest thing I’ve done. Largely because I spent a lot of time feeling that I couldn’t do it. #LifeReclaimed -How I reclaimed my life from chronic illness Click To Tweet
Losing My Life to Chronic Pain
When I got sick in 2010 I felt like I was doing all the right things to get better. I went to doctor after doctor looking for answers. They had none. Or, at least they didn’t have good answers.
As time went on I got sicker and my life was slipping slowly by. I began to imagine spending the rest of my life ill and that just brought on a depression that made me feel worse.
After two years of this I was beyond frustrated. I was seriously considering suicide. What was the point of living a life with no purpose but to lay on the couch in pain? Thankfully, I didn’t follow through.
I was open about how I felt. I talked to my mom and even she understood how I could feel the way that I did. But, something kept me from acting. I believe it was a simple fear of failure.
I didn’t want to attempt suicide and fail. That could leave me in a worse state and I knew it. I also knew I hadn’t really tried everything.
Repeatedly, during those first two years with fibromyalgia I’d had people suggest that diet changes would improve my sleep, decrease my pain, and generally make me feel better. But, I resisted.
Diet change was a huge step. It was a huge change to my life. I was already living my life in pain and depression. Why would I want to give up what little enjoyment I had left?
If I gave up gluten and dairy, what would I eat? Could I really still enjoy life with such a limited diet?
Also, I relied on food to help me feel better, at least mentally. I had a long history of using food as a reward. I had a lot of emotions tied to food. It felt like I’d lost everything else, I didn’t want to lose food, too.
One Change Reclaimed My Life from Chronic Pain
After two years of chronic pain that left me unable to fully live, I was finally ready to do anything. I was even ready to change my diet.
Somewhere along the way I decided I really had nothing else to lose. I was at rock bottom already.Somewhere along the way I decided I really had nothing else to lose. I was at rock bottom already, it was time to do something drastic to reclaim my life. #LifeReclaimed – How I reclaimed my life from chronic illness Click To Tweet
What was the worst thing that could come up making the change? I’d give up these foods and it wouldn’t work. If that happened I could always start eating them again.
In January of 2012 I did just that. I eliminated everything – not just gluten and dairy.
I started the year off with a juice fast. For five days I didn’t eat anything and only drank juice. Amazingly, I began feeling an improvement to my energy levels in just those few days.
When I started eating again, I only ate fruits and vegetables. I also continued to juice every day. And, I continued to feel better.
I’d had good spells before. I’d had whole months where I felt almost normal. So, I wasn’t really willing to say I was better at this point. But, I continued on.
I slowly reintroduced foods, adding meat into the mix and eventually grains like rice (but I continued to avoid gluten, dairy, and eggs).
During the fourth week I took a trip. I drove two states away to visit my best friend, so she could show me how her family lives gluten free. I made that drive solo without any increase in pain or fatigue.
Related: Fibromyalgia and Living Gluten-free
A Life Reclaimed
It’s been almost a decade since I removed gluten from my life. I will occasionally eat dairy or eggs because I’ve found that they only cause GI issues.
The few times I’ve had gluten since removing it from my diet I’ve found it to be a major cause of the fatigue that is a key component of fibromyalgia. As a result, I’ve felt it worthwhile to avoid it.
I’ve also found that I haven’t really had to give up a lot of foods I enjoy. Thankfully, there are a ton of great gluten-free replacement foods on the market now. We even have a really awesome, local gluten-free bakery in Huntsville.
A year after removing gluten from my diet I was able to go back to school. In 2015 I graduated with my BA in Psychology. I’ve returned to work and make a decent living again. This is important as I’m supporting myself now following my divorce (yet another way I’ve reclaimed my life).