The Silver Lining
Hello friends of Plant Speak Apothecary! It’s been a little while since I’ve been in touch, so I wanted to say Happy belated New Year (Gregorian and Chinese!) and fill in some of the blanks. Last year after my ongoing bout with an autoimmune condition, I spent a lot of time helping myself feel better and (consequently) not a lot of time working. It was extremely difficult and humbling for me to set aside the holistic medicine practice that I had spent so much time and energy bringing to life, but I couldn’t be much help to anyone else when I wasn’t feeling well.
The backstory is basically that the amount of stress I was handling on a daily basis caused my autonomic nervous system to be in a constant state of fight or flight, and I didn’t even realize it… Until one day, the scales tipped and my symptoms started showing up “out of nowhere.” I wasn’t taking care of myself in a way that was sustainable for my wellbeing and, as a result, I became overwhelmed and incapacitated. I had found myself in the same situation that I often address with my patients; living a lifestyle that didn’t support my health goals and needs.
For me, being sick with a chronic illness was another full-time job, but I was so eager to get back to work that I had a few false starts. I kept thinking that as soon as I felt better, I could resume where I’d left off as though everything was the same. But what I learned (through trial-by-error) is that once a person’s autoimmune system is affected as mine was, it will never be the same as it had been prior. Health and balance can be achieved again, but probably not without making some kind of significant lifestyle changes. As frustrating as it felt at the time, I accepted that in order to be successful in my long-term goals, I needed to implement some long-term changes into my every day routine. So last year was a full one for me as I took a big dose of my own medicine, and worked on reorganizing, refining and redefining the way that I create healthy balance within my life.
I am extremely grateful that I had access to Chinese herbal medicine during this time in my life as Chinese medicine is a system that treats the entire person and not just their disease. In my case, my symptoms were constantly changing and often seemed unrelated, but combined treatment with acupuncture, Chinese herbs and functional medicine helped to soothe and restore balance to my system, eventually eradicating my symptoms. I am now aware of my body’s specific sensitivities and triggers and have been able to make the appropriate changes to my diet and lifestyle so that I am now living symptom-free!
I won’t pretend that this experience has always felt like a blessing, but the silver lining here is multifaceted. My health challenges have caused me to become more aware of the way that balance exists in my body, and to know firsthand the sacrifices that are sometimes required in order to prioritize health. It’s one thing to have a mental perception of a condition and its symptoms, and something else entirely to physically and emotionally perceive through personal experience. This insight has also gifted me a new understanding and approach to support my patients of chronic illnesses and autoimmune conditions. I know that making lasting changes is hard and can even seem impossible, but I have unwavering confidence in the power that moves the human body, mind and spirit when they are aligned. If you have chronic health issues and are ready to receive more support, please reach out or make an appointment for a health consultation.
Isabel Martinez, L.Ac