Auto immune diseases known as “invisible diseases” are on the rise, they can be hard to deal with as they are only treatable and can be very hard to pin point or diagnose. As someone who suffers from Hashimoto’s I know first hand how hard it can be to come to terms with the diagnosis and adapting your lifestyle around it.
o bring more awareness to the Pretty Eats community, I reached out to Georgia Grey from @wholebodyhealing, a health coaching business that specializes in guiding others with auto immune diseases on how to lead a healthy lifestyle, from what to eat, how to detoxify and how to better take care of yourself and your body.
AH: What’s the story behind @wholebodyhealing? What inspired you to start the account?
GG: Lyme disease is a sneaky, nasty, and tricky disease. It is extremely hard to diagnose and is incredibly misunderstood. The CDC has a certain criteria for what they classify as Lyme, making false negatives/positives very common. So cases of Lyme aren’t even considered Lyme by the CDC which is infuriating and untrue. There is little funding or research for Lyme. It is a disease that needs to be taken seriously and I hope to see a cure in my lifetime.
A few years ago, I noticed swelling in my left pinky joint that increasingly got worse. I was not able to bend it, and it was extremely painful. After tons of doctors, blood tests, they concluded I had Rheumatoid Arthritis. My gut told me that wasn’t right. I never felt like it was a condition I had. Something I’ve learned along my health journey is how incredibly important it is to listen to your intuition. You are the only person that will be able to heal you. We can’t rely on one certain doctor or wait for the next appointment in hopes they will “fix” us. While they assist us and are necessary for healing, we need to be our own medical advocates.
Something I’ve learned along my health journey is how incredibly important it is to listen to your intuition.
Listen to your inner guidance above all else. I visited a homeopathic doctor who had a “feeling” I had Lyme disease. He tested me through electro dermal therapy and I tested positive. I struggle with joint pain, fatigue, brain fog, muscle stiffness, light/noise sensitivity, and occasional ringing in my ears. Part of me didn’t believe the homeopathic diagnosis either. It wasn’t until I had blood tests that the Lyme diagnosis really set in. Western Blot is the blood test that the CDC uses but it is not always accurate. I was able to get tested through a lab in LA that concluded a proper Lyme diagnosis (not the Western blot).
When I got this I initially felt relieved. So much of my pain and agony was not knowing what was wrong! I had seen countless doctors, herbalists, acupuncturists, you name it and none could give me the answer of what was wrong with me. I had been dealing with an unknown autoimmune condition for years before my Lyme diagnosis so that initial mourning, confusion, sadness, despair happened at the beginning of my health journey.
AH: What are your thoughts on autoimmune diseases such as Lyme disease being dubbed the “invisible disease” ?
GG: Invisible illness is incredibly accurate! I think the invisibility of it is one of the most challenging aspects of it. It’s not like a broken leg where people can tell you’re hurt…most of the time no one would know what I am dealing with. It can be very difficult and at times I even catch myself doubting myself and thinking “is this real or in my head?” But I do my best to let those thoughts go because thinking I’m crazy will not help my healing either!
AH: Do you ever find that people doubt you have a disease because “you don’t look sick?”
GG: I am fortunate to have a really wonderful support system. My mom struggles with Lyme so she is the first person I go to. My boyfriend is incredibly supportive and empathetic of my health issues. My friends are as well. All the people who care about me however, do not understand how I feel as much as they want to.
They also do not know what to do to help me feel better (and sometimes I don’t know what I need either!) Lyme is really hard on your loved ones too. I don’t have people not believe that I have Lyme but I do get skepticism when I explain some of my symptoms, especially things that seem “in my head” like brain fog, memory loss, light sensitivity, etc.
It’s not like a broken leg where people can tell you’re hurt…most of the time no one would know what I am dealing with.
AH: What are some of the challenges when trying to stick to a healthy lifestyle routine living with Lyme disease?
GG: One of the challenges is adjusting to a new normal. I can’t do things I used to be able to do and I’ve made peace with that. I definitely needed to mourn the loss though. For example, I no longer do high intensity workouts (running, bootcamps) which was really difficult at first because I loved to run so much! I also have to be careful with what I take on after work.
Pre-diagnosis I used to be able to go to the grocery store, workout, then go meet a friend for dinner. Now I can only do one of those things or nothing after work. If I do too much I feel exhausted.
AH: What were some of the changes you had to make to your lifestyle in general?
GG: The biggest changes I made were slowing down and learning how to love myself. Lyme disease is an invitation to love yourself better. At first I resisted a new lifestyle, but now I love my self-care routines and gentle walks!
I stopped drinking caffeine and eat primarily a Paleo diet. Reducing/eliminating grains has been one of the most helpful things for my joint pain. I make sure I get enough sleep, eat leafy greens, and am very hydrated. Developing a mindfulness practice has also been essential.
AH: What are your thoughts on celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and Bella Hadid, opening up about living with “invisible diseases”? Are they bringing much needed awareness?
GG: I love that celebrities are bringing light to autoimmune conditions. These diseases are misunderstood, misdiagnosed, and carry a stigma. I’m especially inspired by Yolanda Hadid right now. I read her book “Believe Me” over Thanksgiving and wept in every chapter. She really explains the feelings/symptoms that all people with Lyme have and perhaps feel like they are the only one who has felt that way.
AH: What is some advice that you have for others that are recently diagnosed or are having a hard time coping with Lyme disease?
Though dubbed as “invisible”, the effect of lyme disease world wide is anything but that. Lyme is one of the fastest growing infectious diseases in the United States and Western Europe.
329,000+ people DIAGNOSED in U.S. each year! This is more than hepatitis C, HIV, colon cancer, and breast cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Help spread awareness and bring much light into the lives of people who are sometimes forced to suffer in silence for fear of being misunderstood.