Mental Health Mondays- Automimmune/ Maintaining

Living with autoimmune can be a challenge when it comes to maintaining what we need to do. I have to admit sometimes I just don’t want to deal with it. For me, exercise helps me feel better as I cope with arthritis, but sometimes I just plain want to sit and veg out. However, every time I do my water exercise in the aqua track, I feel better.

IMG_1093

When it comes to Celiacs, staying on top of things is easier as far as avoiding gluten. The challenge for me is I am a terrible cook. I have adopted a policy of no more processed foods for me at all at this time, not even certified gluten free foods. I am trying to live with no grains, not even rice hoping it can help heal my gut.

Living with autoimmune can be a constant drag on us emotionally and mentally. The problem is always there like a house guest that won’t get the hint to leave. Prayer and listening to worship music help me more than anything for not letting myself go down into depression.

There are also the reasons I deal with it and take care of myself as I live with autoimmune. My reasons are my students and the people I serve in my ministry. Working with refugees who have been through MUCH worse than I have puts my problems in perspective. My refugee and immigrant friends are my motivation to stay healthy, so I can be there for them.

What ideas do you have about pressing on through autoimmune?

Advertisements

Gratitude while living with Autoimmune/Celiacs- Brigadeiro

Living with any autoimmune problem can be taxing on our minds. We live with pain, changed lifestyles, and doctors doctors doctors. It can be easy to get down, feel down, and let ourselves stay down. It helps me to think about things I am grateful for even little things. For example, this week I am grateful brigadeiro is gluten free and for my friend Angelita who gives me brigadeiro sometimes.

IMG_1062

Brigadeiro is a Brazilian chocolate treat. It is made with a few ingredients, sweetened condensed milk. cocoa powder, and butter. The butter is melted in the sweetened condensed milk as it is brought to a boil and then the cocoa powder is stirred in. It can be eaten after it is chilled with a spoon or it can be rolled into little balls.

I tried to learn to make it myself, but the rolling part was not something I could master. It was fun to try such as in the picture of me rolling brigadeiro with my friend Paty in her home in Brazil. The best part was, of course, eating the brigadiero.

11402550_10153928228529428_1058209766413803876_o

Brigadeiro is part of Brazilian culture. If I want to get a Brazilian friend to smile, I only need to say brigadeiro. My Brazilian friends mean a lot to me and so does sharing in the cultures of my international friends. Because brigadeiro is gluten free, I can still share that part of Brazilian culture with my friends. For that I am grateful 🙂

 

 

Celiacs Has Taught Me I Eat to Live, I Don’t Live to Eat

Many years ago while I was recovering from the effects of hypothyroidism, that left me with lost memory among other issues, a normal response could have been why me. I realized I could have gotten hung up on the whys. Why couldn’t the doctors have found this sooner? Why did I have to leave the school where I was studying for the ministry because of this? etc etc

pexels-photo-356079.jpeg

But the questions I tried to focus on were the whats. Lord, what do you want to show me? What do you want me to do now?

Anytime we struggle with an illness the whys are normal and understandable questions. The problem is that if we focus too much on the whys, they can lead to depression and despair. Those early years after I found out I had hypothyroid and dealt with the effects on my life I focused on the whats. I realize hypothyroid is not a serious illness- IF IT IS CAUGHT EARLY. The problem for me was it wasn’t diagnosed until things had gotten deathly serious.

clouds-cloudporn-weather-lookup-158163.jpeg

So I have tried to focus on the what questions with Celiacs too. Last year as I was dealing with pain, skin rashes, and other symptoms my prayer would be Lord what do you want me to do today. As I went from doctor to doctor I would ask Jesus, “What do you want to do through me?” Of course I would ask Jesus-“What is wrong with me?

pexels-photo-235734.jpeg

The blessing of my what questions is they lead me to understanding. The blessing of finding out I have Celiacs is that it has forced me to reexamine what I eat, to be vigilant about what I put into my body.

Before Celiacs I would eat fast food, which is not really food, four or five times a week. Now that I know I have Celiacs, fast food is gone from my life. No longer do I eat at McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Subway etc.

pexels-photo-70497.jpeg

Late night snacking is gone too. Healthier eating habits have replaced the bad habits I had. Now the produce aisle, organic is better, has become my favorite aisle in the supermarket. Part of that is my sense of taste improved dramatically since I became gluten free.

pexels-photo-868110.jpeg

So a lesson Celiacs has taught me is that I eat to live, I don’t live to eat. The benefit? A healthier and smaller me. So call me crazy, I am grateful to have Celiacs.

Mental Health Mondays- Exercise Has Helped

Last May I began physical therapy for a bad knee. The therapy was in the water in an aqua track at Madonna Proactive in my home city Lincoln. I have to admit at first I was not really into it, but I wanted to try to avoid surgery, so I went and did my best. The picture is of the actual aqua track.

download

For therapy, I would do two laps into the current, two laps with the current behind my back, one lap backward, one lap sideways, and then go into the center for some exercises.

After therapy was finished, I joined the gym to continue exercising. I would do about ten laps and then the exercises, BUT- something happened.

After I became gluten free last August, my energy level improved. One day as I was walking I felt I could go longer, and lo and behold, I went 20 laps. So I did 20 laps each time for a few weeks and then one day I went 30. I read on the sign that 43 laps equaled one mile, so I hoped to reach 43. One week after going 30, I kept going because I felt good and I hit 50. With nasty gluten out of my body, my energy level and stamina for exercise improved.

What does that have to do with Mental Health Mondays? I don’t think I need to quote experts because it is common knowledge by now that exercise benefits us by reducing stress, increasing oxygen flow to the brain etc etc. The reason I am writing about exercise today is the light goes on while I walk.

pexels-photo-256307.jpeg

I get ideas when I exercise. I started writing again, short stories, drama pieces, and blogs. Ideas come to me while I am walking in the aqua track. As a creative person, I cannot express enough what that means to me now that the foggy brain of Celiacs is gone. On Saturday I was walking around the aqua track and I finished writing a short story in my head for my blog encounterswiththeancients.com about a man meeting Peter while fishing. I came home and typed it up and will post it on Tuesday.

Exercise helps me sleep better, think more clearly, and just plain FEEL better. If we feel better physically, it helps us feel better mentally and when living with autoimmune problems, which I have a few, that is so worthwhile.

What helps you as you live with Celiacs or other autoimmune problems?

Mental Health Mondays- Coping with Chronic Conditions

Having been through two serious problems with autoimmune from onset and being sick, through the process of diagnosis. to adjusting to life after diagnosis, I can see how easy it would be to give in to depression and anxiety.

With autoimmune, the problem is ALWAYS there. It is a constant companion we wish would go away. In the days of trying to find out what the problem is, there are doctors to see, tests to be performed on us, and living with the symptoms. After getting diagnosed, each day we need to be vigilant. Depression can set in.

pexels-photo-278312.jpeg

Anxiety can also set in.

pexels-photo-461169.jpeg

With Celiacs Disease depression and anxiety can become an issue especially before going gluten free but also even after going gluten free. I will never forget the first ten days in August 2017. On July 31 the rheumatologist office called to say the blood test came back positive for Celiacs and that I should eat “normal” until I saw the GI specialist for confirmation. I had stopped eating bread and was perhaps 90% gluten free over the summer because I read that white flour and sugar cause inflammation in the body. I went back to eating bread and a “normal diet” and after one day depression and anxiety HIT HARD. The pain was severe and I couldn’t sleep much. On August 10, I was in the rheumatologist office with a PA to go over the results of all of my tests and I broke down telling her I can’t do it. She left the office; I thought they might come back with a straight jacket; she talked with the doctor, the doctor contacted the GI specialist who said I could go back to gluten free.

My biggest concern was to be able to be there for my students and for the people I help through my ministry. My faith is important to me, therefore, prayer is a big part of my life. I found a video by Kristene DiMarco on YouTube early last year and began to listen to it everyday during my times of prayer and it got to the point that I would listen to it ten or more times a day. The song is It Is Well.

 

This is the official Bethel Music video for the song. This song helped me keep going through all of the testing, all of the pain, all of the down days, and through the adjustment period to my new life of gluten free. I still listen to it each day along with other songs. It is how I start my day and it helps me to focus on God and not myself.

I would like to encourage anyone who is struggling with depression and/or anxiety as a result of chronic conditions like Celiacs to seek help. Talk with someone, a friend, a doctor, someone. There is hope. For me, it was talking with Jesus and seeking him. Please do not stay alone in your struggle. There is hope.