My patient profile reads something like this:
28 y.o female
Chronic lyme disease
Intractable chronic migraine w/o aura
Cyclical vomiting syndrome
Generalized anxiety disorder
Before a doctor meets me, this is what they see: a list of diagnoses detailing challenges I face, but that do not define who I am. If someone had told me five years ago that I would have a health profile resembling the list above, I would have said they were crazy.
One of my favorite sayings is “going through things you never thought you’d go through will only take you to places you never thought you’d get to”. Though my diagnoses have significantly impacted my physical ability to achieve my #travelgoals and I have yet to climb all the mountains and catch all the sunsets… I have been on an inner journey that has taught me more about mindfulness, gratitude, acceptance, and empathy than I could have imagined.
I wish I could add a post-it to my patient profile that included some of the important stuff:
Finds gratitude in the small things
Meditates regularly and observes thinking patterns
Practices positive self talk and self love
Values relationships with friends and family
Wants to make the world a kinder place
I believe that wellness is attainable while living with chronic illness. The most pivotal part of my healing journey took place when I decided to dive into my mind and explore how I could change my experience of pain and chronic illness through mindfulness. As someone who tends to be anxious, I cannot tell you how many times I sat and meditated with what I perceived as zero benefit. I’d stop for weeks or months at a time and then return to the practice and try again. One day, it just clicked. With repetition and perseverance, I started to get glimpses of what it was like to be the observer of my thoughts instead of being completely swept up in each one passing by. I began to accept and understand that my thoughts create my reality, and decided to be more observant and intentional about the loops running through my head. I slowly accepted that the only thing I really ever have control over is my mind, and that even on my worst pain days, this was a coping tool I could use to transform my experience.
Surrendering to this fact has allowed me to flow more easily through difficult moments, days, and weeks. It has given me power and hope. It has allowed me to have more compassion for myself and others. It’s inspired to me to learn from and connect with other warriors and wellness teachers who are also choosing this path.
I hope that by sharing my journey I can help others feel less alone too.