How chronic illness changed everything
Back in 2014 I was busy living my normal life, running my own business as a Therapist and Coach with both my boys still living at home.
I was starting to establish myself as the ‘go to’ expert in helping the adult children of toxic parents overcome all the guilt, manipulation and emotional issues those family dynamics bring, half way through writing a book and enjoying the life I was building for myself.
Then I got what I thought was a really bad flu which was rare for me as I was always one of those people who ‘never got sick’.
Instead of getting better, I kept getting worse and worse until I reached the point where I was barely able to think, breathe, talk or function. I felt like I was dying.
I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroidits and told “to take my little pill and adjust to my new normal” and at that moment, life as I knew it completely changed.
I could no longer work or support myself.
I could barely think, talk or function, I was in constant pain and I no longer recognised the person I saw in the mirror.
I was staring down the barrel of a very uncertain future, feeling like I had not only lost myself, but the life I thought I was going to have and there was no one to help me find a way to do anything about it.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I would go on to collect two more autoimmune diagnoses, experience multiple hospitalisations, procedures and tests and start changing every single aspect of my life.
I don’t have a lot of pictures of me at my worst but these below are two of them.
This was taken after my first Christmas with Hashimoto’s in 2016 showing off one of the plates of a dinner set I was given as a gift.
I am yellow because my liver and kidney function was at 50%. I was constantly exhausted, physically and cognitively disabled and unable to work.
It’s hard for me to look at this photo because it brings back just how sick and disabled I was.
Type 1 Diabetes.
This was taken in July 2020 as I am waiting to come home from my second hospitalisation after experiencing Diabetic Ketoacidosis.
I had lost so much weight and muscle that my body was nothing but skin and bones.
I was physically frail and fragile, unsteady on my newly numb feet and about to start my life adapting to being insulin dependant and trying to rebuild my health again.
Even as a therapist with so many skills and knowledge already in my tool kit, I was struggling to survive not only physically but emotionally as well.
The grief of losing my old self and my old life. The constant struggle to complete even the most basic things like showering myself that left me feeling completely wiped out.
Needing to become my own researcher, advocate and dietician to find ways to help my body heal and get some energy and function back.
I had to become a pioneer, trying to find my way alone in a new world of chronic illness, find out how I could help myself, what worked for me and what didn’t and how to actively find Doctors who were willing to partner with me and help me achieve my health goals.
To shift from surviving to thriving, I needed to develop a whole new set of emotional tools, skills and strategies to learn to live well with Hashimoto’s, Celiac Disease, Antiphospholipid syndrome and Type 1 Diabetes.
I recognised there was a huge gap that needed to be filled to help people with chronic illness gain the skills, support and understanding to deal with all of the changes and challenges they were now experiencing.
That’s why I created Emotional Autoimmunity – to help fill that gap and let you know that you are not alone.
Because despite what anyone else thinks, one thing I know for sure is that people with chronic illness are actively seeking solutions to help ourselves feel better.
My style of therapy and coaching is warm, direct, encouraging, empathic, supportive and eminently practical.
I pride myself on the fact that I know how to hold space for those of you who have experienced trauma and I use a specific form of hypnotherapy I have developed that safely and effectively resolves trauma without you needing to relive it.
And the work I do with my clients gets results.
My clients regularly go from feeling overwhelmed, anxious and depressed to feeling more peace, confidence and clarity. They experience incredible shifts in knowing how to set boundaries, advocate for themselves and find joy in their lives again. You can read just some of my many testimonials here on my “be inspired” page.
It is one of the great privileges of my life to witness that transformation and walk beside my clients on their journey and the thing they tell me most often is that their work with me has been ‘life changing.’
My qualifications, education and experience is extensive and ongoing as I continue to evolve as a professional in this new field, because in many ways I have needed to become the therapist I was looking for when chronic illness changed my life.
I believe that everyone living with chronic illness needs to be supported, because having chronic illness isn’t your fault. You didn’t create it, you certainly don’t deserve it, and you absolutely have the right to be believed.
Outside my work I love reading which is even more special to me now because I lost the ability to read books for many years due to chronic illness. I am always so thrilled and grateful to get pieces of my old life and abilities back.
I love to walk along the beautiful nature tracks in my neighbourhood when I am able and I have decided that buying art supplies and actually using them are two very different hobbies!
In so many ways, the impact I want to have on the world through my work and advocacy in the chronic illness realm is just beginning. There is so much more I want to explore, develop and grow into, to better serve our amazing chronic illness community.
Take your time exploring here.
There are blog posts, podcasts, information and inspiration designed to help you feel understood, validated and supported. Most of all, I want you to know that you are not alone.
I am walking this path with you and am here to support you anyway I can in your new life with chronic illness.
We are actively seeking solutions to help ourselves feel better and by sharing that with our chronic illness community, we are all helping uplift others.
And that’s how I see my work.
I’m lifting you up to get the skills, mindset and emotional support that you so deserve in this unique challenge that nothing could have prepared you for.
Kerry Jeffery, Melbourne, Australia.