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Surprise: Body Trials

118HI’ve spent many years struggling with depression and anxiety tied to the ups and downs of my cyclical hormone levels. (The doctors think I’m allergic to myself—how lucky is that?) Sometimes I’m fine, sometimes I feel like I am so deep in the darkness I’ll never find my way out. It’s gotten more predictable in the last few years because I know what I’m looking for, both on the calendar and in my body, but maybe its denial; I’m still frequently surprised when I find myself yet again, in that hole.

I am not a person, who, if asked, would say I am opposed to surprises. I even like them most of the time. In general, I prefer a somewhat unpredictable life, filled with freedom and chances and unknown possibilities waiting to pop up and be embraced. I am relatively adept at curve balls. I wonder as I write this if I would say that before the last ten years of trial had taught me how little power I have over what happens in the universe.

There have been a lot of surprises on this particular journey. The first one was that once I finally managed the courage to admit I couldn’t deal with this on my own, and then the courage to talk to a doctor, and then the courage to try a prescription medication—all of which was enormous and giant and terrifying for me—it didn’t just work. I thought the pills would actually be magic. That would be a no! The first one made it worse. The second one gave me terrible tremors. The third one made me nauseous. The fourth one worked like a miracle.

For about a year and a half, I had my life back—I had myself back—full time. Then, surprise. Less and less miraculous-ness. “It happens,” the doctor said. “Sometimes your body adapts. We’ll try something different.”

No effect, worse, headaches, worse again. Priesthood blessings told me to be patient. To listen to my doctors, my body, the scriptures.  I changed my bargaining list to include things I could live with that I never thought I would; weight gain, insomnia (bad enough to require another medication so I could sleep), an uncomfortable disconnectedness from my emotions, even the headaches and tremors would be acceptable if I could just get the rollercoaster to stop.

As of yet, I have no solution. I know that while bodies can be healed, sometimes you get to live through mortality without the blessing of physical healing. I’m trying to be at peace with whatever surprises the present and future may hold for me, and this week, in my devotional book (“Daily Strength for Daily Needs,” by Mary W. Tileston), and this piece of poem by Karl Johann Philipp Spitta gave me a moment of comfort—

  I ask not, “Take away this weight of care;”
No, for that love I pray that all can bear,
And for the faith that whatsoe’er befall
Must needs be good, and for my profit prove,
Since from my Father’s heart most rich in love,
And from His bounteous hands it cometh all.

Have you experienced a surprising body-related trial? When dealing with a chronic condition, how do you keep yourself from feeling discouraged at the endlessness of it? How do you find peace and comfort in the midst of ongoing physical (or mental) infirmity?

3 thoughts on “Surprise: Body Trials”

  1. You are a beautiful, gifted writer. I am so sorry for the long, long duration of your physical and emotional struggles. Wow! It can be so hard to keep hanging in there again and again, especially when so many of your body's systems have been giving you issues.

    I have struggled with many hormonal issues myself through the years. I have been to the doctor many times, checked out dozens and dozens of books from the library, and read through hundreds of websites looking for answers. I have prayed and prayed again and again for help. I know God guides us to answers, bit by bit. It might take minutes or it might take decades. I don't understand why the pieces don't fall into place quickly in most cases. But, I know that some things are finally falling into place for me. In recent months I have found much relief in a Paleo diet, functional medicine (traditional medicine is still very limited in its answers for us), and supplements (most importantly methylated B vitamins; some people have a gene mutation which doesn't allow them to break down traditional folic acid; it's very common and can lead to a wild array of mental and physical issues). I know everyone's journey leads them to different answers and breakthroughs. Wishing you all the best in your path.

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  2. I am sorry to hear of your struggles. I have had similar struggles for the past 17 years and only recently found any relief. Like Anne Marie, that relief has come from supplements and a variation of the paleo diet, (I follow the AIP or autoimmune protocol diet). For the first time in years I have energy to exercise, am mostly free of pain, and no longer need antidepressants. I also lost weight, though that was not my objective at the time. It is a difficult diet to follow, but the benefits are enormous and worth the sacrifice. Most of the changes made in my diet were made one step at a time as God led me to them, until I realized what the diet I am now following was called. I would have been overwhelmed to see this whole path from the beginning.

    I can't say that I have handled this trial well. I have mostly been discouraged, and felt little peace or comfort amid the constant pain and anxiety. I feel like my testimony has been dismantled and is being rebuilt again. It has very much been an exercise in learning to trust in God and in myself. Learning to love myself and my body despite how broken I may feel. Learning to be humble and strong. I prayed that God would heal me, and I do believe He could, but instead, He has been teaching me how to heal myself and in the end I am stronger for it and it is not only blessing me but my family too. I am so grateful that my daughters might escape the pain that I have suffered.

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