I’m reading a marvelous book called The Autoimmune Solution, written by Dr Amy Myers, who also suffers from an autoimmune thyroid disease. She found that conventional medicine could not offer her adequate support to improve her standard of living so she studied functional medicine. She offers her clients the lifestyle changes that I’ve been writing about recently.
Something that brought up a lot for me was how she discusses the trigger of the disease. Certainly there is a genetic component to developing an autoimmune disease but it’s not a given. There are two other aspects needed – intestinal permeability, often called ‘leaky gut’ and an environmental trigger. She mentions that on average patients take six to ten trips to doctors before being correctly diagnosed. And also, it takes on average five years from an environmental trigger until the disease is full blown.
That got me thinking about my trigger. I had a stressful life, there’s no denying it. Small children, inadequate sleep, running ultra-marathons and running a business that was high stress and that I didn’t love. But that wasn’t enough to create an autoimmune disease all by itself. Of course there were a lot of factors that are hard to go into in one blog post. But there was one event that stands out for me.
In February 2012 my step-mother smashed up our office in a fit of rage after a fight with my father, with a screwdriver and a hammer. She put the staff, the equipment and the business at risk. At the time I had just returned to work from maternity leave. I had a three month old baby, I wasn’t sleeping well, I was breastfeeding which is depleting in itself and I was trying to build a business. I had a great deal on my shoulders: trying to build a future for myself, the staff, the clients, the shareholders and my father. He had not saved adequately for retirement, despite much opportunity to do so. I felt a huge burden to bring the business into modern times and to make a success of it.
And then the smashing incident. Of course, it didn’t end there because we needed to move offices to mitigate the risk of it happening again. That created more costs to the struggling business of new offices, with rent, infrastructure, insurance etc. There was the protection order to keep her off the premises and how she undermined me to the staff behind my back. She scratched my car, she threatened my marriage, she verbally and electronically abused me. There were her suicide attempts to manipulate me into letting her have access to my children.
My strategy was to simply stonewall as there was no point engaging and it was clear my life was not enhanced by her presence. My health deteriorated from that point onward. My adrenal glands took a hammering and I got a string of colds and flu for months thereafter. I didn’t know that my body was suffering and I did my best to continue work and looking after my children.
But there was a great cost to my health and my life. My diagnosis came nine doctor’s visits and four years later. Exactly within the range as predicted in Dr Myers book. I had suspected that the smashing incident was a contributing factor due to the stress that surrounded it. But I have only recently connected the dots that in simple terms, it was the trigger for my lifelong illness.
In times like these, it’s really difficult not to blame. It’s difficult not to lash out in anger and launch a full attack on the person who took my health away. Thankfully by the time I’ve read this book and made this trigger realisation, I have already done a lot of work on forgiveness and letting go. I’ve done many visualisation and meditative exercises in releasing that anger and blame, not for her benefit, but for mine. I have moved on and it has been of benefit to me but this realisation has been difficult nonetheless.
It’s true that without this illness, I would not have changed my life for the better. I would still be living under a cloud of obligation and working in a really negative place. I would be happily munching on croissants and not avoiding gluten, however. But at least now I’m free. I’m able to pursue a wonderful life of creativity and hopefully making a real difference for people one day. That smashing incident set me free. I can’t say I’m grateful for it yet, but hopefully I’ll get there eventually.Follow me: