Seeing The Other Side of Autoimmune Disease & Depression

Seeing The Other Side of Autoimmune Disease & Depression

I am the type of person who wants to have a solution for everything in life. If there's a problem, you can bet your bucket that I will try my hardest to solve it! So, you can understand that it gets really frustrating for someone like me when they are presented with some things for which there really aren't solid answers yet... only some trial and error and conflicting viewpoints. Coming to terms with having an autoimmune disease hasn't been an easy journey, and it isn't even over yet. I fully admit that I used to be one of those people who thought that a lot of things people came up with in regards to how they feel, think, etc. were all fabricated and could be conceived as "excuses." What can I say, I was in my 20's and didn't really know at that point. I can also understand how there are still lots of people out there who don't get it, because you really won't get it unless it starts happening to you (or someone close to you with whom you empathize). I still see lots of stories from people with autoimmune disorders who have spouses and friends who think that they are just "making it up." However, if you are one of those people who feels that way, I want you to take a moment and start to see things from the other side... the side of those who are experiencing these diseases and all that comes with them, because we need your support.

One of the first things I started to notice before I even knew what I had was a decrease in energy and an increase in depression. When I was in my 20's and I would hear people talking about being depressed I thought that they were just being over dramatic. In my mind, at that time, it was people just overreacting and choosing to see situations from a negative viewpoint. When I was starting to feel that way, however, I would look at everything in my life and say, "There is NOTHING happening that should be making me feel this way. What the HECK!?" It was then that I started to understand how depression really works. The thing about depression is knowing what to do while you are feeling that way, because you can't really flip it off like a switch... but you can distract it if you really try. I, personally, turn to becoming more of an introvert most of the time. I may read, I may listen to good music, I may watch a lot of television. I've learned that the internet is bad when depressed, though, because many things on here may just make it worse! Sometimes I'll force myself into social situations as well. I make sure that these social situations are with people who bring me joy and make me smile, though, because that can surely help distract me. So, if you struggle from depression I encourage you to start listing out things you can do during your low times and refer to that list to try and distract yourself from the depressed feelings.

When I got diagnosed with Hashimoto's I had no clue what it was, but in researching I discovered that it could be responsible for my energy levels, my aches and pains, my weight gain, and my depression. The interesting thing about autoimmune conditions is that you usually can't tell just by looking at someone that they have one. In one of my old yoga classes I had a regular girl who always came in and set up a mat in the back for class. She looked young, vibrant, and fit... yet some moves still gave her struggles. I honestly didn't understand it. It was then that I was first introduced to autoimmune diseases, as she had Fibromyalgia. It baffled me that a young girl who looked great was experiencing bodily pain in the way she was. I just didn't get it. I thought, "Why can't you just work through it?" Well, I get it now! I have days that it's a fight just to get out of bed. My flexibility and strength have decreased as my joint and muscle pain have increased. Looking at me, however, you'd likely have no clue what I was feeling on the inside. This is probably why a lot of people think that those with conditions are just "faking it" or being "drama queens/kings."

Now, I also have a message for those of you with the autoimmune conditions like myself. Stop letting it rule your life! I used to belong to a group on Facebook for my disease, but I found that it was just full of negativity and blame and "poor me." NOT POOR YOU! Yes, it sucks that we have to learn how to deal with these conditions, but they CAN be dealt with! Yes, it will probably be frustrating. I encourage you to start doing some research into what you have and see what you can do to feel better, because frustration is better than doing nothing. I refuse to let this change how I want to live my life! What's worked for me? Well, for one thing... I still exercise, but it's lower impact. I don't recover as quickly as I used to, so I can't go hard. However, I feel WAY better when I move on a regular basis. When I take a few days off I end up feeling worse. There are also dietary changes that can be made, but you need to research and decide for yourself (or work with a health practitioner/nutritionist) where to make changes, because some of the foods you eat may be making you feel worse. So, stop letting yourself be immobile and start seeking solutions for your issue. Yes, there's no SET solution, sadly, but I refuse to give up and accept where my body is currently at. I WILL feel better again! Who's with me?

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