A Holistic Change For The Better Post Diagnosis

There’s nothing like being diagnosed with a rare disease that will get you to start thinking about a probable lifestyle change. In the beginning of my diagnosis, I gained weight and didn’t want to do much of anything. It caused me temporary, aching blindness one eye at a time over a period of several months. I was always in pain and found myself on the couch – a lot.

Eating cookie dough only helped so much, so I decided to drive to Waco to see my twin sister and brother in law for a weekend. One morning, while chatting over coffee with my sister, she spoke truth. I was so sick and tired of being sick all the time and I was the only one who could do something about it. There’s nothing like deep sister talks – she literally makes me feel like superwoman.

So I prayed that day and felt God leading me to a completely holistic, clean, and organic lifestyle. I want the world to know that though we can’t control what happens to us, we can control what we give our bodies.

It’s not a passion for organic foods, natural products, or essential oils – it’s a passion for my body and what I put in and on it now ever since I was diagnosed with a rare disease.

I was basically forced to change for the better after I was diagnosed with NMO, a nerve disease that affects my central nervous system. My choice of lifestyle is a result of being scared to death that I would become permanently blind or disabled, and I just can’t fathom that right now. Not now, not at 28, and not if I can help it. Clean foods and natural products all the way from deodorant, natural skincare products, tampons, cleaning products, and even protection are all things I’ve changed in my life. And the more I fed my body clean things, the less my body felt pain. I go to sleep every night feeling like my body thanks me and that I am healing day by day. Below are some things I feed (and don’t feed) my body.

I stopped eating red meat.

No, I’m not a vegan, as I still eat fish and mostly chicken. But red meat is not the only way to get your healthy dose of protein and vital nutrients like iron, vitamin B12, and zinc. I cut it out mainly to promote less inflammation in my body as I deal with autoimmune diseases like lupus and NMO. Try reading this article about ditching red meat.

I drink raw cacao every morning for breakfast.

I can’t even begin to tell you the wonders of this powder (←buy it), so I’m just going to give you a good read here so you can see for yourself. I usually blend it with almond milk and bananas and even substitute it for coffee in my mornings. I drink this with my vitamins and apple cider vinegar supplements. It’s typically my breakfast. I usually make a pitcher of it so there’s enough for both my husband and I, as well as enough for those nightly cravings (he he).

I drink super food smoothies for lunch and started juicing daily.

I’m in love with Your Super products because they’re completely non GMO, gluten, soy, dairy, AND sugar free and 100% plant based! The founder was diagnosed with cancer at age 24 and their story goes from there. I typically mix my super green powder with a banana, kale, and almond milk and this will be my lunch. I was gifted a juicer over the holidays and I love it! My favorite recipe right now is carrots, apples, pairs and kale. I’m sure that’ll change once I’ve tried all 101 concoctions in my recipe book .

I stopped eating processed foods, added sugars, and dairy.

This is pretty self explanatory, but I pretty much stick to lean meat like chicken or salmon for dinner and will snack on nuts and fruits minimally throughout the day. I also can’t pass up fresh guacamole. I stick to almond milk, rice milk, and almond creamers as my “milk.” Like I said, if you get a craving for something sweet, try another cacao shake.

I walk or jog 5 days a week for 30 minutes.

I have a gym membership, but if the day is beautiful outside, you better believe I’m soaking up that sun and smelling the fresh air. You can read about the amazing benefits here. I feel more energy, maintain my weight, and get an overall mood booster. I typically rest on Saturdays and Sundays as those are my calm yoga, stretch days. I don’t have a specific same time of the day that I do this, I just do it – as Nike would say.

So here’s my why.

Put simply, a major life altering diagnosis made me make major lifestyle changes – and it’s changed my life for the better. I’m losing weight, have more energy, rarely get a headache, have less body ache, and have noticed vibrant other benefits. My vision is about 60% back instead of being fully blind in my left eye due to my condition. As everyday passes, it becomes my normal way of living – it’s become a lifestyle I love. It has made my rare diagnosis bearable. Despite that I have infusion treatments every two weeks to prevent another relapse, I’m stronger everyday and truly believe I am slowly healing my body day by day.

A holistic health approach meets the total well being of physical health, emotional nurture, mental health, and spiritual nourishment. I make sure each of those areas are exercised daily in my own personal way and beliefs and this brings my life a wonderful, organic happiness and joy that only comes from the Lord.

I may not be able to change a rare diagnosis, but I can change what I eat, how I feel, and the impact it has on the rest of my life. I choose joy, health, and wellness – maybe sometimes we’re just forced to change for the better.

Cheers to long life, healthier foods – and believing in yourself!

When You’re Homesick For All That You Were Before Depression

My fifth attempt.

This is my fifth attempt at writing this piece only to erase what I’ve written to prove to myself that maybe, just maybe I’m not in this.

Stare at blank page.

Resume latest episode of “This Is Us.”

Tears birth that have nothing to do with the show.

Close laptop.

I can’t wrap my mind around the place I’m at very well and so writing about it seems absurd — silly, even. You could say it’s all of life’s major disappointments all piling up. Or you might say it’s living with an incurable disease, but then I’d tell you I’d choose my physical pain over depression any day.

Maybe it’s people’s disappointments one after the other.

The timing of it all.

It pains me that I no longer feel like a broken plate of glass, salvageable because it’s only cracked in three pieces. Maybe some people can cement their broken parts with green tea matcha and essential oils or whatever the earthy healing trend is today, but that doesn’t cut it for me.

I feel crushed. Shattered in ashes.

Dust-like.

Homesick for all I was before depression met me.

The home of my heart is vacant; every blow of life only churns the ashes round and round in my heart.

If you’re going through depression, I know you feel heavy. You make a list of different reasons to tell your friends why you can’t make the outing so they sound different each time. Maybe you have a good family, a loving spouse, even a furry friend to take away your Sunday blues, but you still feel alone. It’s not that you’re not grateful — you’re heartbroken, hopeless at the thought you’re alive and yet no matter how hard you keep trying, you can’t seem to be present.

I have a reoccurring memory of my husband stopping me in our hallway to dance with me. I started to cry, croaking, “I don’t feel like dancing.” My husband’s reply was everything when he said, “Well then, we’re gonna dance.” Though my husband was holding me, I couldn’t seem to feel him. I only felt his hands holding mine and the warmth his neck brought to my freezing nose. My tears could fill a stream. No, it’s not that I’m not grateful. I’m desperate — frantic for just a moment not to feel miles and miles away from everything and everyone I love.

Depression feels like you’re waiting for something that’s never going to happen. I don’t know how to encourage you in my pain except to tell you a short story.

In early October of this year, I got a tattoo of an olive branch. Its meaning goes deep in my veins: Olive trees surprisingly thrive in deserts and rocky soil and when these trees are pressed, they produce something called beaten oil of the highest quality.

Olive oil was used to light household lamps in the past — the very thing that came once the fruit was picked and crushed, became the thing that gave new light.

Two months later, I walked into a Christian book store and saw a book titled, “100 Things God Loves About You.”

I opened the book and landed on #22:

God loves your ashes.

Tears filled my eyes and the words became a blur. I realized my dust doesn’t have to mean the end to anything. God loves my ashes because He will use them to make something new, like He did in the beginning.

But dust was essential, you see. This heartache has a purpose. And like other seasons of my life, this will be something I’ll look back on and know exactly why it had to happen this way.

Whether it starts out as a small flicker like the day I opened that book, the household lamp of my heart will turn on.

My light is coming.

Originally published on The Mighty