by Carmen Farrell
I’m headed into a new phase. A really exciting phase. A phase where I focus on healing myself.
It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve felt vital and energetic. That’s more than half my life. 20 years of extreme fatigue and exhaustion, a face full of acne, mental disturbances like anxiety and depression, and stomach pain accompanied by horrible digestion.
It’s hard to express how horrible I felt. And truth be told, I hid it from most people – even my family. I was still functioning. I got up, went to work, ran errands. But it was a struggle. I had no energy. I felt like a 65 year old trapped in a 25 year old’s body. Doctor’s weren’t helpful either. I was told repeatedly that perhaps I just needed to exercise more, or was blown off and made to feel like a hypochondriac.
Then I started having babies, and strangely, my symptoms went into remission while pregnant. Once the baby arrived they’d come back but were masked by the exhaustion of parenting a newborn and then a toddler, and then another, and another. About 6 years ago, after consulting with a naturopath, I found out that I was allergic to gluten – which was a life changer. I started to cut back on gluten and immediately felt a difference in my energy levels. But I also started to feel a lot of shame. I could not stay away from gluten completely. It was like a drug. I could go a few days, start to feel fantastic, and then not be able to control myself and gorge (sometimes in secret). It was a vicious cycle. I felt like I knew what I had to do to start getting better, but didn’t have the willpower.
So things are changing and I’m finally feeling in control. Firstly, my youngest is 3 and a half. I no longer have a baby who’s completely dependant on me. He’s still a little guy, but I have a lot more freedom since he has 2 big brothers who help him out when he needs it and entertain him when he’s bored. I’m not always needed. Which has given me more time to focus on myself.
Secondly, I’ve put more pieces of the puzzle together. Turns out, I have an autoimmune condition – which one isn’t clear yet – but my symptoms are very much like those associated with lupus. I also have leaky gut which means that my digestive tract is badly damaged and is allowing foreign substances into my bloodstream and causing inflammation. Inflammation = real bad news.
So, armed with more time for myself and new information regarding what needs to be “fixed”, the changes are a-coming!
I recently completed a Whole 30 which allowed me to reset my body’s cravings for the crap that has made me sick. I’m eating paleo which means no grains, legumes, dairy or processed foods. It means a lot of cooking and prep. It means bringing my own snacks when heading to a friend’s house to hang out. It means limiting some of what my kids eat so that I can keep the house a “temptation-free” zone. All these things may sound restricting, but in actuality, I’m feeling an incredible sense of freedom. I’m eating an insane amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of yummy meat and tons of good fat. My face is clearing up, I’m digesting better and my vitality is returning in full force. Plus I’m not a raging bitch most of the time. Win!
I remember the day I turned 30. I was having a conversation with friends wherein I mentioned that I felt shitty a lot of the time (hello, newborn and undiagnosed medical problems) and that my goal was to feel and look amazing by my 40th birthday. I wanted to enter into that new phase of my life with a new-found love for myself, my body and my strength.
That birthday is still 3 years away, and I’m positive that I’m going to get there, and then some.