I am so happy to announce the beginning of a blog series called The Many Faces Of Perseverance. I thought it would be nice to take the filter out of our daily lives and to be able to relate to many different people about struggles that we each face. I am learning everyday to embrace the struggles we go through, instead of fearing them. I am learning that everything we go through is putting us on our path and helping us grow. I am learning that even when its uncomfortable and hard that we are learning so much about ourselves and that our struggles are shaping us into a better version of ourselves. I hope you gain guidance, inspiration, and support from this series – Alexa
Lauren’s story is her experience through an abusive relationship, an eating disorder and her ongoing battle with autoimmune disease.
Lauren what made you want to share your story with others?
“I wanted to share my story with others so that they realize they aren’t the only ones struggling. Everyone has faced some type of challenge and anyone can overcome the challenges life throws their way as long as they persevere and stay positive.”
From a young age, struggling was the norm for me. I grew up with asthma and had to be hooked up to a nebulizer or take my inhaler before I could go play or do anything active. I had been hospitalized twice from not being able to breathe. As a child, this is terrifying to experience because your body is not working properly and it can make you feel alienated because you can’t go do everything your friends are doing. As I got older, I eventually outgrew my asthma, but that would soon be the least of my worries, as life decided to throw a few more challenges my way.
At the age of 24, I developed an eating disorder and found myself in a verbally abusive relationship. I felt like I had no control over anything in my life and by restricting my calories, this gave me the perception that everything was under my complete control. My eating disorder continued to gain power as my relationship became even rockier. Too many times, verbal abuse is overlooked because there are no physical marks left on the body and that it isn’t as bad, but I beg to differ. The trauma left on the emotional body and mind are far worse and it took numerous therapy sessions to overcome the PTSD I developed as a result.
As if an eating disorder and trying to bounce back from a verbally abusive relationship weren’t enough, I soon found myself in a downward spiral – dealing with multiple autoimmune issues within the same year. I was having reactions to food, vertigo, tingling and numbness in my hands and legs. I had to beg my doctor at the time to have an MRI done, because I was certain I had the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis. The results didn’t confirm MS, but they also didn’t want to say that I didn’t have it due to multiple brain lesions that were showing up suggesting demyelinating disease. That year I also found out that I had Celiac Disease and Gastroparesis. Cue the arrival of major stress from not knowing what was going on with my body or being able to control what was happening.
All of these issues were not helping my eating disorder either. I began restricting food even more with the fear that I’d eat the wrong thing and have an allergic reaction. I soon found myself at rock bottom weighing in at 97 pounds. I looked like a skeleton and even had a nurse gasp when she weighed me with a winter coat on. I felt alone in my struggle with my eating disorder and autoimmune diseases. I felt like no one else could relate or understand and that I was merely a guinea pig for the doctors to run tests on and push prescriptions my way. I finally sat down and realized that I had to do something – I had to fight for my life, no one else was going to do this for me and if I wanted to heal my body I had to start from the inside out. This didn’t happen overnight and it has been a 4-year process for me to be where I am today.
I started running long distance, which in return, forced me to have to fuel my body. I also found my way onto a yoga mat. Having an incredibly active mind, slowing down and focusing on my breath, rather than my thoughts was such a challenge. By combining running and yoga, I found myself evolving and growing in so many different ways. Yoga helped with quieting my mind, letting go of the need for having control at all times and I also noticed a decrease in my symptoms.
While I may have overcome my eating disorder and unhealthy relationships, I still struggle with my autoimmune issues on a daily basis. Since I am Celiac, I have to be incredibly careful about what I’m eating, what’s in it and because of the gastroparesis I also have to be aware of foods that could trigger it. For those who aren’t as familiar with Gastroparesis, it’s a condition that affects the stomach muscles and prevents proper stomach emptying. Meaning, I can’t eat heavy meals because it will take eight plus hours for me to digest it. Throughout the process, I finally learned that my body works better on small portions and snacks now. Since incorporating Ayurveda and essential oils into my life, I can proudly say I am no longer on any prescription medication and I have started healing my gut.
While there are some days where I feel great and as though I’ve figured it all out; there are some days where I can have a flare up because of one tiny ingredient in a protein bar. I at least now know my triggers and how to avoid them to the best of my ability. This is a part of the ebb and flow of life though – there will be ups and there will be downs. The best advice I can give to anyone who is going through a struggle is to stay positive and keep moving forward. Realize that you’re human and you’re going to have off days. This is where having a positive and stable support system also comes into play. I wouldn’t have been able to get through all of my struggles if I didn’t have the support from my family and friends. The most important thing I’ve learned throughout the process is that I’m not alone. You’re not alone. No matter what you’re going through you’re never alone – remember that.
Love + Light,
Owner, Soul Journey Yoga