What I Learned From Recovering My Health

Written by: Kristin Jekielek

I’ve talked about my health issues openly (in a lot of places). I now want to share my recovery story in more detail. I want to share it with those who have been or who currently are lost in a maze of mysterious symptoms, ineffective treatments, and guesswork.

I’ve talked with quite a few people who have gone through major health challenges and recoveries (mostly women, interestingly enough). I’ve noticed a few trends.

These are all simply my observations, so don’t take any of this as medical advice.

I want to make this a sporadic series. What I hope you get out of these posts is a sense of hope and a few ideas of new avenues to explore in your own healing journey.

 

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The Importance of Putting Yourself First

I’ve talked to many friends and acquaintances about the process of recovering health. The single most important and common thread I’ve noticed is this:

Health seldom improves until you make a conscious decision to put your health needs first, above all else in your life.

When you’re so ill that it interferes with your daily life, you must consider recovering your health to be the most important job you’ve ever taken on.

You have to live by a strict set of rules that most people wouldn’t dream of assigning to themselves.

No, it isn’t fair.

But you must accept that this is where you are. Acceptance of this fact is key to the entire process.

Your first task in this new, life-long job is to figure out what rules you must now live by.

Some people need to eat 100% strict Paleo 100% of the time. Some people need 8 hours of sleep every single night….plus naps every day. Others need to cut out the major stressors in their life (at any cost) and start to meditate.

To be honest….you may need to do all of these. And possibly more.

The second task is to live by these rules exclusively, all of the time. You very, very rarely get to cheat when you’re not healthy.

I have chosen to put my health first, so I schedule my life around my health needs.

It’s a running joke amongst my friends that I’m an “old lady”. I have a bedtime that I must abide by, and I’ve become a pro at napping.

As much as I love the outdoors, my friends understand that I can’t always go for a hike when they ask. This doesn’t always have to do with my schedule. Most often I just do not have the energy to physically walk up and down hills for half an hour.

I accept this, and I do not judge myself for it.

This isn’t a selfish act, even though many people cast it in this light. I’m not talking about outside observers. I’m talking about how people tend to judge themselves when they can’t perform to their own expectations.

It took me a long time to learn how to stop the judgement of myself.

This self judgement is crippling and can completely block the healing process. You must find a way to release it.

The third thing you must do is learn to listen to what your body is telling you.

This is a long, introspective process. It will get easier with practice, but you must practice every single day until it becomes a habit.

I know that I cannot fully serve my friends, family, or communities unless I have my health. I must put myself first for a while, so that I can later support others.

Sometimes “for a while” means for the next couple of hours, and “later” means this afternoon.

Sometimes “for a while” means a few weeks of immersive self love, and “later” means next month.

I don’t have a say in when I live by these rules and when I flex them a bit. My body tells me what it needs, and I abide. For me, it’s the only path to recovery.

 

I want to hear about your struggles with recovery. What has been the most important lesson you’ve learned so far? What are you struggling with most? Tell your story below.

 

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2013-09-04

Kristen,

Great message! Good friends like to share in experiences together, but all of that potential joy is for naught if we fail to remember that our own happiness, fulfillment, and health is an important piece to any solid relationship!

Hope you are well down in Asheville!

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