There are always factors within your control, whether you’re aware of them right now or not.
Have you ever thought about the innate trust you have for what your body does?
Growing up, I trusted that, if I fell on the pavement, the cuts on my knees would heal and the bruises on my legs would fade. I trusted that the colds I caught in the winter would pass.
These were things my body was meant to do, and I knew that.
When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I was told that it meant my body was attacking itself. This felt like the ultimate betrayal. My innate sense of trust in my body was uprooted.
At times, I felt so lost. I had to relearn what my body was telling me and what it needed.
Here are the actions that helped me regain trust in my body’s abilities.
The conversation around getting a new diagnosis is a crucial one. It can leave someone feeling deflated or empowered.
When I was first diagnosed, my doctor focused on the chronic aspect of my condition. I was told about the limits I would face and the lifelong medical treatment I would likely need.
The first doctor I met with only spoke about the facts and statistics. I didn’t receive any information about the actions I could take to support myself. This made me feel helpless.
It wasn’t until much later when I learned that there were changes I could make, like an anti-inflammatory diet, sufficient sleep, and talk therapy.
I recognized that I needed to surround myself with experts who could provide encouragement and push me to not give up.
I was able to find doctors who painted the possibilities rather than just the limitations.
To get the answers you need, you’ll need to feel confident asking questions.
Try not to worry about coming across as “needy” or asking too many questions. Remember that your medical team wants to help you.
Asking more questions is a great way to start getting comfortable participating in a conversation with your medical team. You have an important role in the conversation beyond just taking in medical information.
If advocating for yourself feels intimidating at first, having someone join you at appointments or help you do research can be great. I had my mom as my advocate when I was younger. She set a great example for me to follow.
Over time, you’ll become your best advocate. You know your body best and, each day, living with a chronic condition, you’ll learn even more.
You’ll start to recognize when something feels off. Your instincts will raise red flags when something in your treatment or a discussion about your healthcare doesn’t feel right.
As I gained confidence in my understanding of myself, I practiced asking questions. I became more active in my healthcare discussions.
If you don’t have people around you telling you that you can get better, go back to my first piece of advice and find experts who empower you.
Additionally, surround yourself with friends and family members who also believe in you and support you.
It’s one thing to hear someone say that you can heal. It’s another to truly start believing it. You might find it can take a while to retrain your brain to realize healing is possible.
For many years, I held onto resentment, anger, and sadness. I victimized myself and dragged my feet. I struggled to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Slowly, my thought process changed.
I started thinking about the wild possibility of not just managing my health, but really healing.
I started to embrace my “special” diet and take my supplements with enthusiasm.
I learned that deep dives into research and connecting with others on a similar path of healing could feel empowering.
My belief of what is possible for me came years into my journey, and it was something I had to grasp on my own.
This sense of optimism was the missing piece of my daily regimen. It has provided me the momentum I need to continue moving forward.
What I’ve learned from chronic illness is that there are always factors within your control, whether you’re aware of them right now or not.
Once you realize that you have power over your healing journey, you can begin reestablishing a trusting relationship with your body.
Alexa Federico is an author, nutritional therapy practitioner, and autoimmune paleo coach who lives in Boston. Her experience with Crohn’s disease inspired her to work with the IBD community. Alexa is an aspiring yogi who would live in a cozy coffee shop if she could! She’s the Guide in the IBD Healthline app and would love to meet you there. You can also connect with her on her website or Instagram.