Did you know if you have one autoimmune disease, you are very likely to get a second?! There are 90 known autoimmune diseases, including more commonly known ailments, like diabetes.
But this post is about the calm after the storm, so i will tell you the good news: my SIBO is gone! I know, I can feel it in my body. It happened last time I was on an anti-SIBO regime — that time 7 months of a strong antimicrobial herbal cocktail. This time it was 2 weeks of xifaxan, an antibiotic.
I woke up this morning with the same peaceful bliss that I experienced a few months ago when I was SIBO free for about 3 weeks. It is like stepping into a sunlight clearing after traversing a deep forest. Or sitting with my dog on the beach on a clear warm day. It is like watching Bambi and Thumper. It is like the feeling one gets after a week of meditation and yoga at a retreat center. Or like being a child, laying on the grass watching the clouds go by. I remember this, I told myself as I lay in bed.
Last time, the feeling stayed with me day in and day out. It made me realize that all the hard work I’ve done on myself (yoga, meditation, personal healing) was actually changing me, except I didn’t perceive it. Celiac, SIBO, Hashimotos — I lump them together because they are all connected for me — had robbed me of peace for so long, I forgot what it felt like to not be anxious, depressed, or generally on edge, or the other extreme, lethargic. I forgot what it felt like to feel really good, except in the moment when I was trying to feel good, like at yoga or meditation.
That peace never lasted.
The SIBO-free peace does.
I remember once, when at the Kripalu Center for a weekend retreat, I felt so good and such a sense of well-beingness, that when I went to bed that night, I asked for a dream to show me how to make the feeling last. Instead of a sweet dream, I woke a few hours later from a horrible nightmare. In the dream I was trapped in a house with a man who had methodically cut my family into pieces and put them in a bag. I remember thinking, No, not me, too, and then I awoke.
My mother and father died at young ages, my mother from Pancreatic cancer, my father from 2 other forms of cancer. My mother clearly had undiagnosed celiac and Hashimoto symptoms before she was diagnosed with cancer. Once diagnosed, she gave up quickly because she had been struggling for so long.
Looking back, I think this dream WAS showing me the road to lasting peace. I had to prevent myself from being cut into pieces by my autoimmune diseases. These diseases not only create war within us (our body attacks itself), they keep us from ourselves. I know when I’m feeling poorly, I turn inward toward myself, focusing on the bits of me that feel bad, forgetting the parts of me that don’t. I feel less connected and compassionate toward others. When I was younger, I did the opposite, I pushed the illness way, bifurcating my body from the rest of myself. Eventually, that strategy caught up with me. And pulled me to my knees.
We live in a world of juxtaposition, and I remind myself that if I don’t know the storm, I can’t recognize the peace.
This thought helped me these past few months when my SIBO came back. When I started feeling off, tired, cranky, depressed and generally anxious, I was able to remind myself that these feelings weren’t me. They were my disease.
And that soon, peace would return.