In Part I of this series we talked about how knowing and understanding your autoimmune diagnosis and treatment options are important first steps in learning how to effectively advocate for yourself and your health, as well as where to find more information about autoimmune disease and treatment options in order to broaden your understanding.
So, now that you are armed with knowledge and are basically a subject matter expert on your disease and symptoms, what next? Having all of your information at the ready and having productive conversations with your health care team are only half the battle; in order to be effective advocates we need to know what is driving us. Change is facilitated by motivation. If there is nothing driving us to be better, no motivation, then nothing will ever change. Understanding yourself and what drives you, will only make you a stronger advocate for yourself and the life you want to live.
It’s time to ask yourself a very important question: What am I advocating for?
When you go to doctor appointments, do research on your disease, adopt healing habits like dietary changes or gentle movement, what goal is motivating you? I’ve found that when we take control and ownership of our health, there is a lot more motivating us than just our physical symptoms. Maybe we want to be strong enough to walk someone down the aisle on their wedding day, or eventually be able to have children of our own, or maybe we just want to work in our gardens without being in pain… Personally, I (Jesse) have a dream that one day I will be able to live symptom free, not be thinking about my health every second of every day, travel internationally without worrying about sitting through a long plane ride, raise a healthy family, and sit in rocking chairs side by side by with my husband when we’re 80 years old.
So, ask yourself: What do I want my life to look like, and how can I and my healthcare team help me get there?
If you’re feeling burnt out with this healing diet and lifestyle thing or losing hope of a better, healthier tomorrow, I encourage you to take a step back and think about what motivates you. I hope you will come away with a renewed energy and spirit. If I’ve learned anything over the years about living with an autoimmune disease, it’s that this life is not a race to be won but a lifelong journey filled with ups and downs. So every now and then when we feel ourselves getting down or running out of steam, just remember that there is so much more to life than our physical bodies and don’t forget to tap in to what really drives you to keep moving forward.