My Journey with Chronic Illness by Shannon Garza

My Journey with Chronic Illness as an HSP

Sometimes it takes all I have just to get out of bed. That’s how it is when my illnesses are flaring.

I am an HSP who suffers from chronic illness.

It was a struggle that took all of my energy. Drained me of all I had. It was very depressing to live with. It controlled my life. It dictated when I could go out and when I had to stay home. I was no longer in control.

When I had a flare I couldn’t function well at all. Sometimes I wasn’t even able to get out of bed.

The pain was so intense that all I wanted to do was sleep. When I was asleep then there was no pain.

Some days there was no pain. No flare. Some days I was able to eat without pain and get things done that needed done.

But those were rare, far and few between.

Most my days were filled with pain and struggle. It was mainly my stomach (gastrointestinal) issues that debilitated me, that and the arthritis. My autoimmune disease was at the core of it all though. It left me fatigued and depressed.

The pain prevented me from eating and I got down to 97 pounds. It took so much away from me. I couldn’t even do everyday things, I was so exhausted. Everything was such a struggle.

For years I went to several different doctors. Was in the ER more times than I can count. Saw specialist after specialist. Had every test under the sun done (it felt that way anyway), and still… no answers.

They couldn’t figure out what was causing all this illness. At one point the doctors started getting annoyed with me coming around. I guess because they couldn’t find anything they figured I’d stop coming around.

But I wanted to know what was causing all this. I just wanted some answers.

I was incredibly depressed and so anxious throughout this all. No one could tell me anything. Not having answers just made the depression, anxiety and pain worse. It made me feel like maybe I was just crazy.

I finally went to see an internist, the end of the line really, he told me that stress was causing most my issues. Of course I still had the underlying autoimmune disease and arthritis and such but that all the flares and added illnesses were the result of stress.

He told me that I needed to control my stress or it would end up killing me. So I packed up and left the city and went back home to a small town.

It didn’t help much at first. I was still always so stressed which in turn meant I was always in pain. It took a long time for things to calm down inside me.

I had to change my thought process. I had to start implementing self-care into my life. I had to learn to navigate and battle these illnesses.

It took a lot of meditating, eating clean, yoga, and practicing self love and positive self talk. Years of it. It didn’t come easy or overnight.

I had to work hard every day in order to get some kind of relief. Although the arthritis is always constant. The most important thing I could do was to change my thought process. My mindset.

I had to accept that I couldn’t control everything. That some things were going to happen no matter what I tried.

For years I worked to improve my health. My mental health.

I started “clearing out” my life. Cutting off ties to those who were using me. Filling my life with positive, uplifting people and things.

I began taking care of myself. Exposing myself to all things good.

Loving family. Supportive friends. Immersing myself into my tribe. Fellow HSPs. Being a part of that community. My community.

It felt good. Finally there were people who understood me and who I understood. It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing you aren’t alone.

Now I use my life to help others overcome. If I can do it then anyone can.

I took control of my life back.

Do you struggle with chronic illness? It seems to be common with HSPs. Do you have a handle on it or does it take over your life?


Pic credit via Lars_Nissen_Photoart

Shannon is a Highly Sensitive Person and an Introvert. She is a coach for Highly Sensitive People. She is an advocate for breaking the stigma on mental health. She loves laughter, kittens and helping people live their best lives.

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