My name is Lauren.
I have a passion for economics, metaphysics, history, and astrology. I love the ocean, country music, meaningful conversations and exploring new things. That is a pretty neat way of summing me up.
Funny thing is if you had asked me four years ago to give you an elevator pitch of myself it would not have gone that way at all. It would have read:
My name is Lauren.
I work as an economist, I have a brother and a sister and I have a number of autoimmune conditions. I have ankylosing spondylitis, which is similar to rheumatoid arthritis only it also affects my spine, I have fibromyalgia which when in a flare, wearing clothes is not an option, I also have chronic gastritis and also the other things that go along with an autoimmune condition, like brain fog and chronic fatigue.
Both stories remain true, at both points in time. Or well, Doctors still give me the diagnosis of the above things. The difference is the way it’s framed.
How many of you with a Chronic Illness, can relate to the second statement?
How many of you lose yourself in your illness?
How many of you have let it define you?
If you can relate to any of those statements, we share something in common.
At the height of the illness, when my body was swollen from my jaw to my toes, when I was unable to eat, and I had people carrying me to the toilet, I decided if I heard from one more person that was healthy that “it was going to be okay” I was going to break completely. You know that person is just trying to care for you, but it’s hard to hear from someone that just doesn’t seem to get it. They don’t get the pain, they don’t get the fear, they don’t get the loneliness. It was at this point I decided to start an Instagram account, I just needed to vent, I needed support, I needed to believe in something other than my current reality.
I really had no idea what I would find. It wasn’t always good, but for the most part, the people I started to interact with were the nicest, kindest people I have ever spoken to. What brought us together was a common goal, to find a cure or a way out of chronic pain every day. Among the beautiful humans I met on Instagram, there was one in particular, who I credit to saving my life (without an ounce of exaggeration) this guy is known as Ralph Ruiz or on the Instagram community @ralphitness. This man skyped with me for hours and hours over the period of a year and a half, he taught me everything he had learnt on his journey to a pain-free lifestyle and was there to pick me up every time the pain got too much and I lost all hope again.
With him my account underwent name changes from @kick_as to @kicking_as to finally @shape_your_reality, I learnt the power of thought and spoken word, how I could manipulate my reality simply by my chosen phrases and thoughts. I learnt about myself, I learnt to notice patterns before different flares, for example, if life became overwhelming and physically exhausting but I felt like I couldn’t slow down, my knees would swell up. I physically would be unable to walk or move. I was being forced to slow down.
I noticed if I was in a situation that I was uncomfortable in, my wrist would flare up and then my clavicle, I would hold these joints and either excuse myself from an activity or use it as an ice breaker to start a conversation in a group I didn’t know, therefore becoming comfortable.
By noticing these patterns, I become able to take control of them, I practiced mindfulness and when these patterns would show up, I would adjust my behaviour accordingly. The biggest thing I learnt from Ralph is that a pain-free lifestyle was attainable. Remission wasn’t just a fantasy you hear about some people achieving, it was mine for the taking. And I stood up and took it with both hands. Three years on, I do not have any pain in my body.
Now I won’t pretend it was an easy or simple journey. It takes work. It takes a lot of self-analysing and dealing with things you have been suppressing. It can be emotional and frustrating but once you get through it, you know it was all worth it.
I went from being:
- chronically tired to having boundless energy,
- from being crushed by brain fog to having a brain that operated back at its full capacity,
- from struggling to walk and often needing crutches to carrying out an exercise routine, and
- from having to eat through a straw and being on a strict diet to being able to eat anything and everything.
I went from my GP telling me “look, you need to just face it, this is your life now, stop asking questions and accept it, you’re going to bedridden, you’re going to be in pain, I am sorry to say it’s going to get worse with age. Accept it and deal with it the best you can, maybe try some antidepressants” to my specialist being so astounded at my recovery that he actually rolled his chair away from me after finding no pain in my body and stared at me in complete disbelief. He couldn’t work out what had happened. I went from being one of his most difficult patients to help to not needing his help any more without anything changing but my mindset.
Both my GP and my Specialists have told me I no longer need to see them anymore and guess what! I haven’t been to either of them since. This may be confronting to a lot of people. Please be aware I am not saying this illness is in your head. Please understand I suffered for years with chronic pain, I know where you are. I know how hard it is. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel if you are prepared to work for it.
However, for some, it can actually be less painful to stay in the physical pain, then deal with the emotional pain. I respect that. All pain serves a purpose. My 19 year old self would have laughed at this message, it would have been angry, it would have said this person doesn’t understand or that I am different.
If I could tell my past self-anything it would be, to be patient, to trust in myself and who I am. To allow myself a break. It was okay not to be strong, it was okay to break down and cry, it was in those moments that I learnt the most about myself. I would like to go back and hug that girl, to tell her she was loved, that she was perfect the way she was and that one day things would be right again. The pain would go, and the person I had become would be unstoppable.
I am sharing a story of hope. One I have personally experienced and seen a number of others personally experience. If Ralph hadn’t extended his support to me, I would hate to know where I would be, so I am hoping to do the same to you, in the hopes that it may help.
You really do have all the resources within you to shape your own reality, don’t let anyone ever make you believe otherwise. Your mind is more powerful then you realise, if you believe something is permanent it will be, if you believe it will go away, it will.
For coaching plans to assist with your autoimmune or pain management journey please get in contact with me through my website www.shapeyourreality.net. For those who want to get in contact with Ralph or others who have achieved similar outcomes using this method or are in the process of achieving these outcomes please join the Mind Body Healing With Ralphitness facebook group. There is some amazing material in the group and you won’t find a more supportive group of people anywhere.