Today, I am so excited to feature guest author, Alexa Federico! She is the wonderful author of Girl in Healing, a lifestyle blog that journals her journey with her autoimmune disease! Alexa is here today to share the 5 most important things that she has learned from living with her autoimmune disease and how her tips can help you!
5 Things I’ve Learned From My Autoimmune Disease
- True friends are in it for the long haul
If there’s anything that can throw a wrench into a friendship, it’s a chronic illness. I was diagnosed at the critical age of 12 years old. I was halfway through middle school with a secure group of close girlfriends. My diagnosis could have severely impacted my friendships. But do you know what? I did not lose a single friend over my illness. It is quite astonishing actually, looking back on it. My friends opened their arms up even wider to make room for the adjustments that were coming. As adults, they are still all there for me. They are shoulders to lean on and ears to listen to my burdens. They have never once made me feel as though my Crohn’s was affecting them. I am forever grateful for these sweet souls who continue to stand by my side.
- I am really in tune to my body
As I write this one, I hear my mom’s voice saying, “Listen to your body.” She would tell us this all the time when we were kids. For example, if we were tired but kept fighting it to stay awake, she gave us this reminder that our bodies are always trying to communicate with us. Over the years, I feel like I owe it to Crohn’s disease for knowing my body wholly.
I might wake up feeling tired, and I just know I am going to experience what I call “Crohn’s Fatigue” for the entire day. I let go of my expectations of what I wanted to and make time for rest.
My stomach might not be feeling so great, but I had plans that were made in advance. I could go, but I know what kind of pain and misery will result. I (usually) make the disappointing decision to stay home.
By now, I can even anticipate what kinds of symptoms and how long I will have them in some situations!
- Self-care is a non-negotiable
For a long time, I was in denial that I had a disease that needed to be acknowledged. Understandably so, I just wanted to be normal! But once I started recognizing little changes I could make to improve my quality of life, I started to reap the benefits of self-care.
What self-care means for me may be different for the next person. For me, it has a lot to do with #2 on my list. I must listen to my body, no matter what my mind or heart wants.
- Not overworking myself.
- Getting my nails done or getting a massage once in awhile. (Do you agree that getting pampered makes you feel like a renewed version of yourself?)
- Eating healthy, nourishing foods.
- Thinking and acting positively and expressing gratitude.
- I love the saying “You cannot pour from an empty cup.” Taking care of myself is #1!
- I can use my experiences to be a voice for someone else
I wish I had been directed to the use of diet as treatment as soon as I was diagnosed, but instead I went through a horrendous year after finding out I had Crohn’s. I started my blog nine years after I received my diagnosis. I run Girl in Healing to encourage and educate as many people as I can reach. It is my goal to help those who are going through pain and uncertainty in their journeys, a place I know all too well.
- There is always, always a light at the end of the tunnel
This one is tricky. It’s easy say when I am well. But dark times come now and again. It is easy to fall into the negativity trap. But from what I have gone through in the past decade, I can affirm this to be true.
Pain will subside, it is not permanent.
New treatments are being developed and tested. I’ve come across many remedies and medications over the years. I learned not to believe I have seen everything. There is a lot to look forward to in the future of medicine.
Family and friends will support me until the world reaches its last glimmer of daylight. This is the backbone that will always carry me through.
If you know someone with an autoimmune disease, the most important thing you can do is be there for support. Even when you cannot see the pain, I can assure you, it’s there. And if you have an autoimmune disease, I hope that you find these to be truths in your life as well.
Wishing health and healing to you all, XO.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alexa Federico is a 22-year-old born and raised just north of Boston. She is an avid reader and green tea drinker. She blogs at Girl in Healing, where she creates belly-friendly recipes and shares her life experiences of living with Crohn’s disease, a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), which there is currently no cure for.