I Thank My Body For Flares

Early in my autoimmune support group search process, I noticed that some people focused on the idea that their bodies had betrayed them, and that they had to fight back. In cases such as cancer, I probably would’ve developed such a mindset as well. But autoimmune diseases? They are for life, and not going away any time soon regardless of your “fight.” There is no foreign body attacking you, it’s yourself.

I look at my cells like those videos of someone slipping on ice in the winter time. But not as if they slipped on a banana peel and are down in an instant, but the ones that slide around the driveway for a good thirty seconds, legs parting into splits left and right and just ultimately taking a good minute to actually fall down. Trying so hard to prevent something bad from happening, but ultimately causing a scene and making it worse in the meantime. slipping on ice gif.gif

So in my opinion, this road to healing as much as possible is not taken on by throwing up your fists, but understanding your body for doing what it does and preventing anything worse from building. Most importantly, you have to forgive yourself.

As simple and cliche as that sounds, I think that is a crucial step in our roads to acceptance while we are grieving our health, no matter how long we have been struggling. When we are in a flare, we need to stop and give our bodies a rest. We need to understand when we absolutely have to take a break, and not feel negatively towards that reality. I used to get so frustrated and down on myself, pitying why my life was so difficult and why can’t anything go right? When in reality, it was actually my body trying too hard to take care of me. One day, my cells were sent out to attack a virus, or confused during high stress, and then went into overdrive. Autoimmune disease is usually caused by a key-in-the-lock type reaction of severe bodily stress during a virus or stress that unlocks these antibodies to be rampant in your system. So unfortunately, when my body needed these cells to take care of itself and calm it down during outside attack, it fought back a little too much. Like that kid in gym class who tries way too hard and takes it too seriously. try hard gym gif.gif

I look at my body as dedicated to take care of me, protect me, and heal me. So much so that it went a little haywire and cannot seem to stop trying so hard. I see it like this:

My antibodies just mean that I have an overprotective mother in my bloodwork. Always wanting to be involved in things and poking her head in places where she may not be welcome, but she’s just trying to help. Oh, and never cross the child of an overprotective mom, or you’re in for a rude awakening. We’re talkin’ to you, common cold. helicopter mom gif

My swollen glands and joints from cells’ attacks and resultant inflammation are like a dog barking at a leaf in the wind. The threat is actually nonexistent, but the aggressive reaction to it is still present. While I appreciate my body for wanting to protect me, my thumb joints are not the cause of the concern.corgi scared of bone

My heightened anxiety manifestations are my heart and brain’s ways of desperately searching for a solution to the mess the body has created, and to identify a possible threat at all times to prevent further damage. worry gif

Presentation of depression through chemical redistribution in the brain is our psyche’s way of shamefully accepting our body’s responsibility for wanting to help but doing so awfully. Our bodies are sorry, and need to be forgiven and taken care of.sorry gif.gif

I know this is a far cry from viewing autoimmunity scientifically. But for some of us, we need a perspective shift to adjust our mindset on these diseases and manage through the grief they have bestowed upon us. Evolutionarily, autoimmune diseases are actually frontrunners for health since they are immune systems in overdrive (confused frontrunners for health, but frontrunners nonetheless). So we have to thank our bodies for trying, and nurture them when they especially push themselves into a flare. We are working so hard that we’re making ourselves sick, but the good intention has to be recognized. Worrying, getting frustrated, feeling betrayed or disappointed by your own immune system is not going to do anything but perpetuate the stress of the situation.

In establishing a more affectionate mindset to our bodies and their functions, we will adapt a need to protect and serve the bodies that are trying so hard to keep us safe and healthy. This mental shift has been the light bulb for me to finally start taking care of myself. To cut out those bad foods I knew I should’ve been ignoring long ago, because they further hurt what I’m trying to protect. To step back from stressful situations and calm myself, ensuring that I only bring peace into a body that is dealing with enough unbalance and turmoil as it is.

So when I am in a flare, I lie in bed and thank my cells for trying, but we’ll get ’em next time. After all, we’re in this for life together so I had better make my peace with them now. hate love gif

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