Making friends with my body – chronic illness
For years, I wasn’t very kind to my body. In fact, I was annoyed with my body. It wasn’t because of the way my body looked. I was okay with that, despite the fact I didn’t look like the ideal body portrayed by our society. It was because of the way it functioned, or rather, as I saw it, failed to function.
When I went to give birth to my first child 15 years ago, I felt like my body let me down, as I wasn’t able to give birth naturally and ended up with a Caesarean. it was only a few months later that I was diagnosed with Hashimotos - an autoimmune disorder that attacks my own thyroid. Two Caesarean births later, another diagnosis of Pyrrole Disorder and many bouts of depression over the years, and I started to really resent my body. It wasn’t functioning as it should, and quite frankly, I was angry. I was always fatigued and frustrated that I lacked the energy to even make it through most days and perform simple tasks. I had trouble keeping up with my three active boys.
I was determined to heal my body and started working closely with a wholistic GP who recommended diet changes and prescribed me supplements. I was committed to whatever the doctor recommended. Even though it was hard, I stuck to the diet changes and took my supplements faithfully. Slowly, but surely, my body started to respond and I noticed that my body was starting to heal.
Meanwhile, I had accidently discovered the healing power of art. I started art journaling and dealt with some emotional issues that I had held on to over the years. I didn’t realise at the time that I was using Art Therapy to heal. I didn’t even know what Art Therapy was. I just knew that my art journaling helped me express myself. This emotional healing also had an effect on the healing of my body, and worked in beautifully with my diet and supplement regime.
Now that my fatigue had lessened, I was looking for some form of exercise that was low impact. My body was still unable to handle vigorous exercise, as heavy fitness routine would leave me even more fatigued. I decided to be brave and try a yoga class. The first yoga class I attended, I was so nervous, but I did not have to be. The Yoga instructor made me feel very comfortable. I had to learn the different ways of breathing that Yoga uses. As I moved my body slowly into the unfamiliar yoga poses, my body responded in a way that I can only describe as a sense of coming home. I was coming home to myself. I had been disconnected from my own body for such a long time. I was immediately taken back to the same feeling I had as a young girl spent dancing in ballet classes. I was so surprised at how my body responded to the yoga poses. During Savasana, I lay there thinking about how relaxed I felt, and decided there and then that I would come back next week.
Thereafter I went back every week. I looked forward to it. I started to make friends with my body, and I was no longer angry or resentful. Now I was in awe of my body and what it was capable of doing. As my body strengthened and I moved from beginner to intermediate yoga poses, I continued to feel connected to myself through the breath. Yoga had become a moving meditation and I learned to tune into my body and listen to what it was telling me.
When my perspective changed on how I viewed my body, not as my enemy, but as my friend, I wanted to look after my body better. I found that if I was kind to my body, my body would be kind to me.
Fast forward to now, and I can honestly say that I love my body. I am so thankful for everything it enables me to do. My body has healed so well, that I no longer suffer from the fatigue I did years ago. I was even able to add more to my busy life of raising three sons, including studying and practicing as an Art Therapist. Using the combination of yoga, art and diet, I was able to move towards healing my body. But the true key was showing my body kindness and no longer seeing my body as an enemy, but embracing it as a friend.
By Jo-Anne Puggioni