Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Body Image Part... I don't even know anymore


Photo credit Travis Cottreau from Poetry in Motion
Last year I posted over on the Little Miss Autoimmune Facebook page about how starting a new medication had helped me get some control over my stomach issues, and as a result I’d been able to regain a kilo and keep it on for a couple of weeks. This seemed (at the time) to signify my stomach problems were a thing of the past.

Well, that’s the problem with counting milestones when it comes to chronic illness. There’s no end point to these diseases, and as such everything is changeable. The good and bad states are only ever temporary… a fact that can be both a source of comfort and a source of fear if you let it. Not long after posting about that kilo weight gain, I re-lost it… and five others.

Despite this, last week I realised I’d come to a good place with my body image. I felt like how I saw myself in my mind was starting to match up with what I saw in the mirror and in photos, rather than my real image being a constant surprise after all the changes my body has been through. More than that, I actually felt I liked the way I looked – when a friend complimented me on a photo someone had posted, I could think “yeah, that is a nice photo” rather than immediately assuming they were saying that to make me feel better about what must actually be a bad photo.

Then in the way of life: Happy with your body image? Enter chronic illness.

Since that photo was taken, I’ve lost three kilos – enough weight that I’m going to need to get a belt for my jeans to avoid accidental indecent exposure. It was only a week ago. The day this photo was taken, I’d seen my doctor about something unrelated and happened to mention that I thought I was losing weight again, so she got me on the scales. In the week since, things went from “I think I might be losing weight” to “I’m so sick I must have food poisoning” to “how can food poisoning last this long…? oh wait, it’s a fricken' flare.” I hate that after all the years, medication, attempts at alternative therapies and diets, this is still happening. I hate that it happened the moment I started to feel good about myself, and I hate that I still feel like I’m going to have to justify to people why this isn’t a good thing.

Maybe that last part is in my head. The people I’ve mentioned the weight loss to, all reacted with variations of “oh, that’s not good” so perhaps people won’t assume weight loss at any cost is a good thing (or perhaps I just have all my friends well trained!)

I hope that I can continue to feel good about myself, even if my body changes again. The weight loss this time probably isn’t significant enough for me to actually look any different, however, the last couple of days my thought process has been something like this: “Maybe I should try eat more, so I don’t lose too much weight. But what if I over-shoot and start gaining weight? Really Helen? Are you actually worried about that right now? But if I lose too much weight, I’ll probably look really weird. Wait… Are you actually thinking this? Are you really simultaneously fat and skinny shaming yourself, while buying into superficial garbage about your appearance instead of concentrating on your health? What is the matter with you?!”

The reality is, I cannot control my weight right now. All I can do is eat whatever doesn’t make me feel sick, avoid foods which I know make the weight loss worse, and just hope that at least some of what goes into my stomach actually gets absorbed. Like all the illness stuff, this episode will be temporary. There’s a really good chance the weight I’ve lost will come back on once my stomach settles, and I’ll be back to where I was. I just hope that whatever happens I can feel okay about it and stop placing so much importance on a number on a scale. Weight gain or weight loss, I know very well that if this was happening to a friend, I would be assuring them that they are worth so much more than that, so I’m going to try show myself that same kindness.

Thanks for reading, 
Little Miss Autoimmune

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Sometime it's okay to stop (Life is about snapshots not oil paintings)

When I stopped blogging last year, I'll admit that there was a part of me that thought it was somehow going to cure me, that I would wake up the next morning illness-free, full of energy and ready to take on the world.

Yeah... nah.

My health continued to be as bung as it always had been. I also still struggled with all the feelings about my illnesses that had led me to decide to stop blogging in the first place, but I did at least start to make some headway with understanding what those feelings were really about and identifying them, even if I couldn't always change them. One of the big things that did change for me was my willingness to try new things, and make plans for the future. Once I started taking more notice of my own thoughts, I realised how much I was stopping myself from doing because of the way I felt about my illnesses rather than because of the illnesses themselves.

When I went through the pain clinic programme a few years back, one of my exit goals was to go back to dance classes. Now admittedly, my health has done all sorts of strange things in the time since pain clinic that would have made dancing difficult, but I was also hampered by the idea that I would cause disruption or embarrass myself in classes by being being sick/fainting/my legs stopping working suddenly (or any of the other things that can happen on a daily basis) or just generally not being able to keep up in the same way I could in dance classes I attended pre-illness.

Realistically, if my body did decide to have a tantrum and stop working properly, yes, it would cause some disruption to the class, but the impact of that on other people was probably not going to be as bad as I imagined. Even if it went utterly and completely wrong, it would still only be one hour of my, the other students', and the dance teacher's lives, so in the end, I decided to just get over myself and try a class. I gave the teacher a heads up in an email and at the start of the class that there was the possibility of me falling/fainting/other bung things, and she was fine with me taking it at my own pace or sitting out if I needed to.

It turned out the biggest issue for me was that after ten years without attending classes, I was completely out of practise at learning choreography and spent most of the first class facing the wrong direction. That came back pretty quickly though, and I began to really enjoy going to classes. It became a fun, and stress-relieving part of my week.

However, it hasn't been completely without problems. Fatigue, muscle spasms and pain are not exactly the most compatible things with dance, and some weeks I've been completely wiped out by classes. At the end of last term, I was really struggling to keep going. Work and other commitments were using up most of my spoons, and finding enough to dance on top of that was hard. This term my work schedule is even more demanding, and I've known the sensible thing to do would be to take a break. But the thought of stopping classes really pained me.

This was something I fought for - emotionally and physically - and something I had won back against illness. I wanted to cling to that, and not let go. I felt I had to keep going - not just at dance classes, but with everything - because if I gave in, it might mean losing those things again forever. So I pushed myself to keep up with everything... and of course my health started to bear the effects of that. Continuing to do something because I am afraid of losing it is probably not all that much better than me being afraid to even try it in the first place.

A friend sent me this song the other day:


This situation wasn't the reason she sent me it to me (we'd been talking about taking photos) but it felt like it fit pretty well anyway. I went back to classes. I danced my ass off. I fricken loved it. Here is the polaroid picture to prove it...


(I'm on the far right in the pink singlet.)

...and right now, it's okay for me to stop. I may go back to classes again - I stopped for ten years and went back - or I might not. But either way, it's still fricken awesome that I got to do this again after so many years. Letting go of this does not make it any less cool that it happened, and letting go right now does not mean "never again." Sometimes, it's okay to just say "I'm pressing pause."

Thanks for reading,
Little Miss Autoimmune

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Catching Reapers and Sleep Disorders

If you're friends with me on Facebook, you will have seen I've been posting a ridiculous amount of stuff about Grim Reapers lately. That's because my play How to Catch a Grim Reaper opens tonight at Bats Theatre. Being involved with the Young and Hungry season this year has been a really special experience for me. Theatre, and in particular Young and Hungry, were a big part of my life pre-illness, and I had thought that part of my life was over. 

As part of the publicity for the play, I was taking part in a publicity stunt wandering around town with a Grim Reaper. It was kind of a bad day pain-wise, and I was a little worried I might pass out because of it, so I gave the people I was with a quick explanation of my tendencies to fall down - very important in this case, since I often don't recognise people and freak out after I pass out, and so waking up to this:

Man facepainted as the Grim Reaper


leaning over me would not have ended well. While we were joking about the idea of the reaper setting up road cones and a "Grim Reaper at work" sign around me if I did pass out, it suddenly occurred to me that when I was saying Young and Hungry was a part of my life pre-illness, there was only a very slim margin making that true. The first time I collapsed was on a Young and Hungry holiday programme when I was fourteen. A couple of days later I collapsed again on the stage at Bats, and that was about when I realised I might not be all that well. It was another five years before I got a diagnosis and in reality I had been unwell for several years before that without knowing, but that day has always stuck in my mind as the beginning of a lot of this stuff.

One of the articles about the show focused on my sleep disorder (hypnogogic hallucinations or night terrors - not autoimmune as far as I know) being the inspiration for the play. During the interview, Tom asked me if I had the choice, would I give up having the sleep disorder as it has given a lot of creative inspiration. The question gave me pause - the sleep disorder can be exhausting and disruptive at times, but it has had a major impact on my writing, so no, I probably wouldn't give it up.

It made me think - would I give up any of the illnesses I live with if I had the choice? 

Yes, of course I would! If a safe and effective cure was found, I would be lining up to take it, especially if it could reverse the damage already done to my body. But if the possibility arose that I could never have been sick in the first place, would I take that? 

No. I don't think I would. A lot of living with illness has sucked, but ultimately it has led me to where I am now. I love my life, and the people in it, and I wouldn't risk giving that up. 

Of course this is all very much theoretical as the likelihood of someone developing cures for all my illnesses AND inventing a time machine to go back in time and give it to me before I became unwell is pretty low, but even so, this has been a nice thought train to jump on for the day. My illnesses have changed my life a lot, but I'm not convinced it's all for the worse.

Thanks for Reading
Little Miss Autoimmune

How to Catch a Grim Reaper runs from the 10th-25th July at Bats in Wellington. Find tickets.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Gluten-Free is Not a Personality Type

The other day I came across this article. It annoys me so much. For so many reasons.

Feel free to head on over and read it for yourself, as I'm quite aware my interpretation of this is more than likely biased, but the TL;DR is the author of this piece feels that "ordinary" eaters like herself are being squeezed out by people with allergies and fad dieters.

Okay, so firstly let's go hang out in the supermarket where there is less than quarter of an aisle dedicated to gluten-free food (which, by the way, does not in any way exclude ordinary eaters as you can safely eat all of it) and the REST OF THE FRICKEN' SUPERMARKET filled with almost all gluten-populated foods, and tell me again how you're being marginalised.

This idea seems borderline delusional to me, but it's not what annoys me about this article. It annoys me because it feeds into the wide-spread idea that people who go gluten-free or try other diets are only doing it because they are following the latest "fad." Yes, I'm sure there are some people who are elitist about diet, and are doing whatever health craze is currently most popular. I've heard about these people. I've seen them in movies, and parodies and I've certainly heard "ordinary eaters" complain about them.... but I've never actually met anyone like this.

The people I know who have special dietary requirements are all incredibly lovely, genuine people. They realise that their diet can be inconvenient, and do what they can to minimize its impact on other people. NONE of them think that having an allergy is a "badge of honour"; they perhaps just don't feel as ashamed of their affliction as some ordinary eaters like the author of this article seem to feel they should be.

I assume the type of people described in the article do exist, but my guess is that their behaviour has less to do with diet itself and more to do with the type of people they are. If it wasn't about a diet they would be behaving in the same way about some other topic-de-jour. You can't really blame diet for that and quite frankly, if your friends really are behaving in this elitist way then maybe it's time to take a good look at who you are choosing to associate yourself with, because I think that may say more about you than it does about anything else.

This article also implies that any diet is nothing more than a whim that can easily be changed. To be fair, the author of the article does state:
 "I'm certainly not inferring that food allergies and intolerances are made up, or that those who suffer desperately from them are all fussy malingerers."
But whether or not it is your intention, writing an article like this tars us all with the same brush. The comments are littered with people saying things along the lines of: I have a friend who has a REAL food allergy, and she almost never talks about it. And then I have this other friend who claims she has an allergy, but I saw her eat gluten once, and she just goes on and on about it. I think she's making it up. If you've ever found yourself thinking something like this, has it ever occurred to you that your friend talks about her food issues a lot because you don't believe she has a real allergy, and she's scared you'll put gluten in her food if she doesn't go on about it?!

I do get that sometimes it might seem like food intolerances aren't a big deal, especially if on occasion you see someone who is gluten-free eating something containing gluten. Sometimes humans do things that aren't good for us and sometimes we eat things we're not supposed to. This may lead you to believe that people's difficulties with food aren't real... or you could have a bit more compassion and come to the conclusion that eating a restricted diet is hard. People don't always have the will power to give up immediate gratification just because it's going to make us sick later. If this is difficult for you to understand, think about the last time you or someone you know got really drunk. You probably knew, as you were drinking, that it wasn't good for you, and was potentially going to make you vomit (or at least have a hang-over the next day) but you did it anyway.

Even if a person's diet is not about an allergy or intolerance, and just about "wellness" - just take the time to consider the fact that people don't generally go on a quest for "wellness" if they are already healthy. Whether the problem is a physical illness, wanting to lose weight, or just general unhappiness with their life, having a bit of compassion and support for what someone is going through and their attempts to help themselves would go a lot further than getting irritated because they occasionally post about it on social media. After all, the stuff you like to post on social media is probably irritating to at least a few people as well.

I'm still struggling to understand how exactly it impacts on so-called "ordinary eaters" that other people eat differently to you. Did we at some point infer that we care what you eat, or feel that you need to eat identically to us? Because I'm going to let you in on a little secret: we really don't. Eat nothing but chocolate all day if you want - it makes absolutely no difference to me.

The author of the article claims that her problem with diets is that we should be focusing on bigger issues:
"I'd much rather they focused on meatier problems, like how we tackle food insecurity (that's not knowing where your next meal is coming from, not worrying if your buns look big enough) in Kiwi families."
Reality check: you're writing an article about how other people's diets annoy you. Don't try to claim the moral high ground about focusing on bigger issues.

For the last few months I've been thinking about trying dietary approaches to get better control over my diseases. I'm not doing this because I want to go off my medications; this is not a case of me rejecting medical science or being "chemophobic". I'm thinking about trying to heal myself with food, because there are no more medical options for me. If I want to be healthier, I am going to have to figure out how to do it myself.

Initially I was too embarrassed to tell anyone that I was contemplating doing this, because I thought the reactions would be ones of derision, just like the attitudes displayed in this article. But the reality is, I'm tired of being exhausted and in bad pain all the time, and it's really distressing to have to deal with the potenital for falls or loss of function on a daily basis. I'm willing to try drastically altering my diet, because I'm not ready to give up and simply watch as my health and ability to function deteriorate. It may not help, but sitting on my ass doing nothing certainly isn't going to help either, and this at least has a chance.

Now, I've sure my friends have gotten sick of hearing me talk about vegetables over the last few weeks, but they also get that doing this is important for me, and they're being supportive of that, because that's what friends do.

Being an ordinary eater is not a problem, it's a privilege. Enjoy it, but please try and take the time to be grateful for it too.

Thanks for reading,
Little Miss Autoimmune.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Last Year (a blog on love and stuff and things)

Written 2nd April 2015


2nd April 2014
Today facebook added a photo I posted exactly one year ago to my timeline. Normally I find these kind of posts mildly irritating. Only mildly though, because they are not in and of themselves offensive; they just serve as a reminder than facebook is probably not the best use of my time, and that I should really stop reading the newsfeed.

This photo caught me off guard though. I remember when I took it. I had been incredibly sick, just a few days before, and basically hadn’t gotten out of bed since. I had cried a lot in the days leading up to this, and so my eyes were very puffy and I still looked sick, but then a package had arrived in the mail, with this hoodie in it, and so I had put it on and taken a photo to try and cheer myself up.

Not long before this illness/new-hoodie-photo-taking, I had met a boy. In my head, this all happened the same week, but when I think about it properly I don’t think that can be accurate. It didn’t happen too far apart at least. I had talked to this boy, in part, because this wasn’t the first bout of bad sickness I had had that year. The first had been really terrifying and confronting, and had forced me into a sort of “bucket list mode.” I felt like my time was running out, and so I’d stopped caring if I made a fool of myself, got over my natural shyness, and just started doing things to make the most of my life. Talking to him was one of those things. When we met, this boy had told me about an event coming up, and I had decided to go, mainly because the event sounded cool but also because I wanted to see him again.

And then the second sick episode happened.

I was too unwell to go, but more than that, I also thought I shouldn’t. It reminded me that I was a sick person, and that I shouldn’t inflict that on anyone else. And so I forgot about the boy.

A few months later, I was looking at a facebook event I’d been invited to, and I realised he was invited as well. On impulse I sent him a friend request. Then panicked and messaged a friend to ask if she thought that was a weird thing for me to have done, given that I’d met him only once and that was several months ago (she said yes, it was a little bit weird, but given that facebook is weird, it was probably okay.) Then while I was talking to her, he accepted my friend request, and we started talking.

We hung out a few times. I was never quite sure if that was just as friends, or if there was the potential for something more. Honestly, that freaked me out. I liked him, but I also really like clarity. The in-between feeling was hard to deal with. And still, in the back of my mind was the idea that I was a sick person and shouldn’t be inflicting myself on anyone else. Me dating someone would mean they just ended up looking after me, wouldn’t it? That wasn’t fair. That feeling grew inside me, until I told him as much. I still wasn’t sure whether he saw me as anything more than a friend, and saying anything felt horribly presumptuous, but I basically told him I was too sick to be in a relationship, and that we should just stay friends. So that’s what we did for the next few months.

Right now I am sitting in my living room, with incredibly puffy eyes from spending the last few days crying, and wearing a T-shirt that the boy left behind (oh my God, I am such a cliché right now!) Despite everything I thought about myself, and what it meant to have an illness, the boy and I ended up falling in love. Unfortunately, we fell in love right after he had made the decision to leave the country in a few months’ time.

It was a case of bad timing, but we decided to spend the time left together. Much of that was spent avoiding the subject of him leaving, though he did ask me at one point if the fact that he was leaving made it easier for me. The answer, I guess, was yes and no. It made it easier at the start, because I felt like I was talking a risk by allowing myself to be with someone and so I thought that if it went horribly wrong, it would be easier for both of us to be able to make a clean break. It also made it so so much harder, because I was letting myself fall in love with him, knowing he would soon be gone.

It was scary for me to be in a relationship with someone. Every time I had a bad day with my illness, it was really hard to let go of the part of me that wants to hide all that and protect the people I care about from it. Every time he helped me when I was sick, I felt guilty and like it was unfair to him. But then after a while, I started to see that I was caring for and helping him as well, just in different ways. I also realised that a lot of what I was feeling was not just about having an illness, but about many different fears I carry inside me, and blaming it on being sick was perhaps just a convenient excuse I had given myself. Being vulnerable is hard, and sometimes it feels easier to be alone with it. But something being easy, doesn’t always make it best. Being vulnerable with another person IS hard, but it can also feel amazing when it’s the right person, and they care enough about you to want to see the not-so-pretty parts of your life as well as the best bits.

The boy left a few days ago.

I’ve spent the last few weeks answering questions about whether I am going with him, whether he’s coming back, or whether we’re going to do the long distance thing. The reality is, none of those options were really going to work for us at this point in time. Of course there was a big part of me that wanted to cling to him, and tell him to stay, but as hard as it was for me, I told him to go. He has things to see and do in this world, and I want him to do that, even if that’s not easy.

Right now, I am incredibly sad. I miss him more than I thought was possible (hence wearing his T-shirt) but I don’t regret falling in love with him. The last few days, I have felt like I will never get past this heartbreak, but I keep remembering the fact that I only feel this sad because I have had something wonderful in my life, and that really does make this sadness worth it. My feelings about my illness nearly stopped me from having that, and I’m going to try to remember that particular fact in future. My illness is a part of me, but it’s not me, and I need to remember that when I feel like holding myself back from things because of it.

Thanks for Reading
Little Miss Autoimmune  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Last Post For A While

This is going to be my last blog post for a while. I have to admit, when I’ve seen other people write posts explaining why they’re taking a break from blogging (or rather not explaining, as these posts are often quite cryptic) I’ve always thought it was a bit strange. I don’t imagine that if I stopped blogging, without a post saying why, that many people would actually notice, but as I’m sitting down to write my own version of this type of post I now understand why people write them. I’ve been contemplating the reasons behind this for a while now, so apologies if this gets a bit long and rambley.

The last time I stopped blogging for a significant period of time, I didn’t write any kind of explanation. I just stopped, because things were so bad with my health that I was struggling to convince myself I even wanted to be alive anymore, and writing about how awful things were didn’t seem like it would be of use to me or anyone else. Then, amazingly, I went into remission and I was too busy enjoying my life to think of writing about it. This time, my break from blogging has less to do with my health itself and more to do with my attitude towards it.

Recently I’ve caught myself in several unhealthy thought patterns about my illnesses, some of which have also been noticed and pointed out to me by people around me. After posting this piece, a friend sent me this message: 

“I hope this is OK to say, but have been thinking about it since I read your latest blog post. You mentioned a few times about 'being a sick person.' I just hope you know that this is not how I (and I imagine any of your other friends) view you. You're my friend Helen who happens to have health problems and we love you!”
 
I hadn’t registered that I had referred to myself as “a sick person” until my friend pointed it out. A couple of times recently, people have told me I need to be careful about letting illness become my identity. Both times, I felt myself bristle, and thought “what the hell are you talking about? There is so much more to me than my illnesses!” But once I managed to put aside my defensiveness I realised there was some truth to what they were saying. They probably weren’t trying to say that there was nothing to me apart from my illnesses, or that my illnesses were the most interesting thing about me. Instead I think maybe they were trying to caution me against overestimating the significance of this part of my life. When I refer to myself as a sick person, it does give “sickness” more importance than is warranted. As my friend said in her email, I am Helen, who happens to have health problems. Illness is a part of my life, and there’s no use denying that. But it’s not me
 
When I let illness become this significant, it can be easy for me to start discounting the other (good) things in my life because the illness feels all consuming. I realised I have been feeling some shame towards my illnesses, as if they somehow make me “less,” “broken,” or even “worthless.” At times, I’ve been feeling the need to downplay and hide them. For example, I find myself really reluctant to meet people in person if my first interactions with them have been by phone or email, as I feel as soon as they see me in person they will see I walk with a stick and it will change their view of me. At the same time, anytime I do downplay my illnesses I feel as if I am deceiving people, like they wouldn’t want to be around me if they knew what things were really like.

A couple of weeks ago, I fainted when I was out for the evening. And, because I had pretty much no warning that it was going to happen, and fainting usually makes me a bit disorientated anyway, I then had a panic attack soon after coming around. Everyone around me was very nice about it, but I found myself thinking: “Well, that’s that. They know what I’m really like now.” I felt that in their eyes, I would be reduced to someone who is frail and ill and nothing more. But then a couple of days later, one of the people who’d been there that night got in contact with me, not because I had been unwell, but simply because they had liked a poem I had written and read that night. It made me realise that just because I was busy discounting all the good things because of my health, it didn’t actually mean everyone else was. 

The other day, someone came up to me and asked if I was walking with a stick because I got into a skateboarding accident. I was about to explain, that no, I walk with a stick fairly permanently because I have lupus, and I felt the familiar sinking feeling in my stomach that comes with that conversation and the questions it usually raises. But then I stopped myself, laughed, and instead said: “Yes, that’s exactly what happened.” Now, I’m not exactly advocating lying, but it was really freeing to realise that I don’t actually have to explain, or apologise for, my existence.

I have fallen into the trap of letting my illness become my identity and I need to step away, and figure out who I am separate from that. This blog isn't the thing causing me to create this identity, but taking a break from blogging is a way to mentally separate from it.  

I want to say a big thank you to everyone who has read my posts over the last five years. It’s been a long journey, and it’s helped having people along for the ride with me. I’m pretty sure I’ll be back here again at some point in the future, but until then I wish you all health, happiness, and a whole cutlery store full of spoons!

Thanks for reading,
Little Miss Autoimmune

Monday, September 22, 2014

A (love?) letter to my own body

Dear Body,

I want you to know I hear you.

I was pretty unimpressed when you wouldn't let us get out of the bath last night. This is something I've always worried about, but somehow I still managed to be surprised when it finally happened. I guess because you'd been behaving so well lately, you'd lulled me into a false sense of security.

I was pretty angry with you, Body. As much as I try to be Zen about the all odd things you insist on doing, this time you really pissed me off. And truth be told I was a bit scared. Yes, we have things in place to make situations like this okay... but all of the possible solutions still required either pain or embarrassment, and I just didn't want to deal with that. 
 
The thing is though, once it became clear we weren't going anywhere, and I made the plan to just top up the hot water and wait it out until you agreed to start working again, I realised this was your way of trying to make me listen. You don't have that many ways of communicating with me, do you Body? And so you tend to pick the ones that you know I'll take the most notice of - dropping my blood pressure so I have unplanned lie downs, making my limbs stop working properly so I have to stop moving, and of course our old friend Pain.

I know you think I don't listen, and sometimes you're right. I keep pushing you when you're telling me that you need to stop; that you need to rest. I haven't been doing that good a job of taking care of you lately, have I? I haven't been sleeping enough, or eating enough (though if you could ease up on the nausea a bit, that would help!) I've been making you do too many things, using up more spoons than we have, and I've been worrying and stressing out too much.

But I want you to know, I hear you.

We've been here before. At the start of the year, I didn't listen to you, and we ended up in a pretty bad state. I promise you, I've learned from that. You need to trust me, Body. Sometimes I am going to push you more than feels comfortable, but you need to trust that when I do I will have rest planned for you afterwards. Guess what, Body? We have the whole week off next week! And I'm going to do better on feeding you nourishing food, getting you to bed early, drinking enough water, remembering to take meds on time, and getting gentle exercise. I'll even give the relaxation stuff another crack too. In return, can you please just hang in there and not freak out? 

Ultimately, I know that you are just trying to protect us with all your over-zealous immune-system activity. Your methods are pretty are pretty flawed, but I know that somewhere deep down it comes from a good place. So really, Body, we both want the same things. We just need to trust each other, and give each other a break sometimes.

Lots of love,
Helen

P.S. Thanks for finally letting us get out of the bath without help. I really appreciate it xoxo

Little Miss Autoimmune