Signposts to Light and Wellness: Making Good Choices about your own Self-Care

By Carolann Patterson

My close friends know that I had been sick for many years and struggled to find the reason for my constant sorrow and never-ending physical pain.  Unraveling my symptoms was complicated: it could have been a million things, and I didn't know where to I just had to start some where. It was a slow and agonizing process as I began to pick things apart. There were no start and finish lines and the check list was long, with each tick-box scarier than the last – Depression? Allergies? Adrenal? Thyroid? Neurological? Pre-Menopausal? Auto-immune - Lyme or Lupus? Cancer? You get the idea.

Self-Care isn't a fad or a trend. It's foreverrrr.  It takes a long time to work through it all.

It wasn’t until 2016 that I emerged from disease to wellness, from darkness to light.  I had been suffering from constant, un-diagnosed pain that was eventually "lumped" under the label of Fibromyalgia, and it was anyone's guess where to begin in terms of "the right" protocol to follow. I had to figure out what worked best for me. 

My condition was possibly triggered by a mysterious virus and extreme fever for which I was hospitalized in 2009, just prior to the Swine Flu pandemic reported in April 2009.  It is possible that the mysterious virus combined with my genetic profile and pre-existing viral exposure to bring me to my knees.  

Two years later in 2011 I received the diagnosis that I had an under-active thyroid and began treatment with Armour Thyroid.

I discovered later that this diagnosis was only scratching the surface, but still, it was a starting point so I embraced it as one stepping stone of many. The diagnosis allowed me to progress to the next step, to move beyond the prior diagnosis that my condition was a “mental” thing, most likely post-traumatic stress disorder [PTSD] that was causing my depression, physical pain and brain fog. It was a huge relief to receive a diagnosis that allowed the dialogue of healing to open up beyond the limited view that all I needed was an anti-depressant pill. 

There was no way I was going to pop pills and wish my symptoms away. No matter what Science had to say about the benefits, I wanted to work through each and every one of my symptoms in order to understand my overall condition, how it all "fit" together, and how to work through to The Cause.

I wasn't looking for a Quick-Fix and I sure didn't get one. I cleared the decks to allow time [nearly 2 years before I started to see real results] for new life practices and the process of trial and elimination that would allow me to arrive at the source of my anxiety, sleepless nights, depression, inflammation, weight gain and debilitating pain. As I write this, I am still tracking my symptoms, behavior and stress levels as well as shifts in weather and will continue to do so for the rest of my life as part of effective self-care.

In a way, I am a bit like a farmer tending his crops - you can watch and learn and figure out the best practice of prevention but no matter what, no year is ever the same: there are many unknowns and variables. Part of healing is being able to surrender and trust the process of healing, to embrace the good days and to allow for the bad ones.  

I readily acknowledged that there was a vicious cycle going on inside me, but I never believed that the “most likely” sequence was the correct sequential order of things. I accepted that trauma was part of the problem, in so much as it could have weakened me and my immune system, but it didn’t sit right that trauma was “The Cause” because I had processed the grief over losing my first child at birth; I had worked through it all – the rage and despair; I had surrendered and was blessed to find serenity; and I had accepted the great sadness as though it were a gift, a key to a deeper level of compassion that I had not previously known.

...and so my journey towards a diagnosis began with the question: If I've truly processed my grief and accepted my loss, why then am I still so sad and why does everything in my body hurt so much? The short answer: the sequence had, in fact, been wrong… the 2011 diagnosis of previously undetected hypothyroidism was earth-shattering for me, in a good way - it gave me "the cause" [or one possible cause] as well as the momentum to move forward with the relief that my baby was not to blame, nor I.

Knowing that hypothyroidism was causing my troubles, there was no one to blame. I finally had a starting line.  and I could live with that. And I could begin to heal and with that, change my life for the better and revive my spirit….and so I did.

Change is GOOD. Taking Armour Thyroid daily was a huge help in boosting my energy and abilities, but simply popping a pill and hoping things would "just go away" wasn't enough. I needed to change.

I needed to reinterpret my life and the way I approached my health. For every symptom I suffered, I had to find another way to make it better and for that, I had to change everything: my diet, my exercise routine and my stress levels. I stopped working and cleared the decks so I could focus on regaining my health. I slowed down to enjoy my life and subsequently stumbled upon a greater sense of purpose and confidence, gratitude and ease.

I stopped drinking except on special occasions. I embraced a new fully organic, low-glycemic, anti-inflammatory, gluten-free diet. Now food not only tastes good, it IS Good. Soon I slept through the night and gradually my symptoms disappeared as a result of the changes I had made. My health was so much improved that despite occasional flare ups of fibromyalgia, I am able to enjoy regular pilates, gentle yoga, dog walking and snowshoeing without suffering for it.  

An additional and essential key to my recovery is that I could never have made all these changes to my life were it not for the many enlightened women and men who guided me...

Over the years following the traumatic loss of my child at birth, I've encountered many wise women and men whose love and wisdom and ability to share their stories helped me find my own. My healing is wrapped up in the love and guidance I received from them – This blog is dedicated to those fine spirits whose signposts have marked my journey from the beginning until now, where I am full of gratitude for the life that has been restored to me.

Sometimes, you just have to slow down and read the signposts to move forward on the right track…and then it’s all there right before your very eyes: Go on, Good Girl, Go!