Let me guess: You eat sprouted alfalfa salads, run 6 miles a day, take a vitamin-B complex, and are a raw-juicing machine. In fact, you follow all the advice; you've read all the articles, taken all the pills, and struck all the poses. Right?
But you still feel like garbage. Truth is, you've been tackling your chronic illness for years now. Your job, finances, sanity, and relationships are all preparing to jump off the nearest cliff.
Why aren't you better yet?!
I hear you. For years I was sailing those same waters of confusion, frustration, loss, and pain. For years nothing worked. After a decade of chronic IBS, I was finally diagnosed with parasites, H. pylori, SIBO, candida, adrenal fatigue, mitochondrial dysfunction, detoxification issues, and finally fibromyalgia. My journey to recovery was rife with disappointment, setbacks, and more unforeseen obstacles than I ever could've imagined. Just like yours.
But when I finally figured it out, I healed at a rate that blew my mind. And you can too. Here are the 10 most surprising factors that sabotaged my recovery from chronic illness.
1. You assume you're just like everyone else.
A huge mistake I made during my healing journey was to assume that my symptoms, experiences, and reactions would be the same as all the stories I read online. Consequently, I endured setbacks because my reactions to supplements or treatments were atypical. I would suffer unknowingly because I thought I should be taking something or doing according to what other people said.
So instead of being misled—listen to your body. Implement each new treatment slowly. Pay attention to how you react to all protocols and home in on your biological intuition. Your cells are unique, and you should honor your individual needs.
2. You're not taking your whole body into consideration.
Doctors are notorious for ignoring the fact that all systems are beautifully integrated parts of a larger working form. As such, the pervading thought has spread that any singular issue exists in a vacuum, disconnected from the rest of you.
Consider this: Cavities have nothing to do with your fatigue, right? Perhaps. But it's likely you're experiencing a side effect of a much larger issue at play: You are tired because your liver isn't working properly. Your liver isn't working properly because it's overwhelmed with the toxic mercury fillings in your teeth. You have mercury fillings because you developed cavities. You developed cavities because you eat a ton of sugar. You crave sugar all the time because you have candida overgrowth...It goes on and on.
3. You try to do it all on your own.
You think you'll save time. That holistic herbalist is way too expensive. You know how to make hummus and take chlorella, so you can do it yourself, right? I did this for about five years. Looking back, it's shocking how much time and money I wasted by insisting I go it alone.
Given the deluge of information available to us, it's so easy to misdiagnose, get overwhelmed, and get sucked down rabbit holes of misinformation.
A better solution would be to find a capable functional medical practitioner who will approach your case holistically and guide you safely away from blind speculation toward informed healing through high-quality testing, diet, and supplement protocols.
4. You chase symptoms, not solutions.
It's easy to get caught up on the symptoms, particularly if you're in the throes of an acute flare-up. It's tempting to focus on a collection of symptoms that correlate to a specific disease, then confer with Dr. Google for confirmation of your deepest fears. This can lead to ignoring other contributing factors and even manifesting symptoms or conditions that don't exist. The downward spiral is always close at hand.
Besides the fact that focusing so much on symptoms can heighten your experience of them, they can be dissociative—meaning that even though you may be experiencing a pain or symptom in your belly, it may be caused by something going on in a totally unrelated location.
To prevent this, seek the help of a holistic practitioner to find the root causes of your chronic illness. Taking charge of your own health is important, and biohacking can help you tap into your anatomical intuition, but without a compass, your methods may be useless or even harmful. It is so much easier to work forward if you know exactly where to start from.
5. You don't get tested or had the wrong tests done.
I resisted testing for a long time. It's costly and often an out-of-pocket expense. The fact is, most modern medical professionals don't practice holistic health care. They know more about pharmaceuticals than nutrition, and their testing methods are often insufficient at best. Even more, interpretation of results is frequently inaccurate, misleading, and based on outdated data collected decades ago. I can't count the number of times I was told, "Oh, you're perfectly fine—well within normal guidelines," even though I was incredibly sick and quite clearly not the least bit normal.
Avoid these frustrating dismissals by enlisting the help of a reputable holistic practitioner who will explore the best comprehensive testing options with you and interpret your results with an eye toward ultimate healing. Invest in your health, your body, and your future.
6. You assume diet Is enough.
Common advice says that if you just find the right diet, you'll heal all. I tried paleo, raw, vegetarian, and many other autoimmune healing diets. In the end, it was deeply confusing and frustrating. No diet seemed to work for long, and eventually, I couldn't eat anything without reaction. I developed a negative relationship to food that constructed psychological barriers that proved extremely difficult to overcome.
Diet is an integral aspect of healing, but remember that root causes need to be established and usually a multipronged approach will require implementation over a few weeks or months. Find nourishment that works for you while being mindful that it is only one piece of the puzzle.
7. You think one food, diet, pill, or supplement holds all the answers.
It's tempting to believe that there's one diet, one pill, one supplement, or one magic bean that'll hold the key to all your health issues. Out of desperation, I searched for The One for years, hoping to find the ultimate secret to end all my misery. I adhered to insanely strict diets, followed expensive supplement regimens by multiple online gurus, and bought many bottles of total bunk.
The fact is, the complicated nature of your chronic illness will likely span multiple systems and may include anything from hormone imbalances to parasites to detoxification dysfunction. All of these issues are complicated and take time, plus a specialized approach to effectively conquer. If you are suffering from many maladies at once, you have a thorough mess on your hands that no magic bean is going to fix.
The good news is that healing is absolutely possible when the right knowledge and tools are combined in a mindful way that suits your individual needs. Get help, take high-quality supplements, and follow a diet that suits your purpose, heals your body, and strengthens you for the day you can indulge in a delightful doughnut.
8. You think there's a quick fix.
Being sick is boring. You feel like so much time has already been wasted. You have life to live, art to create, love to share! You need to be better right now! Unfortunately, in order to see lasting results in healing, you have to play the long game.
You must also consider that it probably took years to get into a state of chronic illness. The harsh truth is that it could take months or even years to get your bod back on track and will require a slow and steady regeneration of elements in a specific order using thorough methods.
To effectively tend to the needs of each system, you must honor your body with the assurance that it has plenty of time to heal, and that healing is taking place in every moment. It can be beyond challenging to believe, but giving your mind and body the time it needs to make a full recovery is essential. Pencil in time for yourself every day to practice ritual and routine that builds a lifestyle of healing.
9. You get jealous of other people's health.
You scroll your Insta and see all the neon Lycra and toned abs, so you pump yourself up with protein-packed peanut balls and spend an hour killing it at the gym. Of course, it's healthy to bust a gut in Zumba and eat raw kale chips, right? But then the next day you feel depleted, sick, exhausted, and not remotely capable of Lycra in any form. Why?
This is super counterintuitive. If your body is under the chronic stress of sustained illness, a hefty workout or would-be health food can actually cause you more harm than good (in the short term). It may induce inflammation or negative hormone shifts in your already overtaxed and confused body.
Don't let your fitness prize become your punishment. Hold tight to your vision, but instead of trying to force yourself into a diet or fitness routine that doesn't serve you, find gentle foods that are nourishing to your body right now and choose dynamic movement (like yoga or tai chi) over a cardio blowout.
10. You have poor body image.
This is huge, and possibly the most overlooked aspect of true healing. If your mind chatter is constantly reaffirming that you're sick, your body has let you down, your thighs are fat, your arms are flabby, your chin wobbles, well, that is never going to inspire your body to rise to the occasion.
These negative beliefs will settle into your subconscious and become blockages that prevent you from moving beyond a state of chronic suffering. As a former bulimic, I've struggled with self-image for decades. It wasn't until I changed the record and released the harmful affirmations (which came so naturally to me!) that I started seeing dramatic and life-altering improvements in my health.
You must harness the power of your mind in order to master your ailments. Establish a practice of positive affirmation. Explore hypnotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, meditation, or mirror work. Find a method that speaks to your innermost consciousness and that constructively disperses your negative energies and old stories, replacing them with affirmations that tell your subconscious that you are ready to move to a place of higher health. Allow your body to learn how much love, value, and purpose it holds. Remind yourself of this in as many ways as you can, every single day.
One final thought...
Overcoming these roadblocks was integral to regaining my vitality. I went from being a disease-riddled, bed-ridden invalid, to a thriving, loving, living firework. No matter how sick you are, this framework will create a strong basis from which you can pursue true healing.
Your body is an amazing, beautiful, capable instrument. Invest your time and effort in these ways to restore the flow of energy and life that is your birthright. You can do this! Be well, my friend.