I am a 33 year old professional athlete, aerialist and visual artist. I was diagnosed at age 20, small intestine resection at 21, and have been living and training through all the waves that we all inevitably experience as a result of this *unpredictable* condition. The past three years in particularly have put me through the gauntlet, as I tried a number of different standard meds that gave me intensely adverse psych and physical side effects, and have ultimately chosen after so many years on drugs, that I need to be essentially off them for now, mainly treating with diet, acupuncture and Chinese medicine.
I know well that everyone must navigate their own path when it comes to choosing medications and doctors, but I am finding that one of the ways that I can support people uniquely is through the physical rehab that can keep life feeling more empowered and joyful, with and through the types of traumas that we experience to our base bodies (first and second chakras, for those who follow the way that yoga portrays the physical, emotional, and spiritual self).
I am increasingly asked in my community to work with vulnerable groups to reduce physical stressors, which for me intricately ties with tempering the response of the nervous system so that our symptoms manifest less severely, bringing joy and autonomy through physical capacity building techniques as well as expression, which I offer through yoga, body-based strength training, as well as circus arts. I also lead writing and visual arts projects that allow us to actively re-shape our stories and how we relate to a challenging world, resulting in independent publications and catalogues. I find that because this is "invisible disability", there are many aspects of our experience that are difficult to release without these kinds of creative formats to help us shape a positive relationship with the content.
Chronic illness challenges even the most strong and stoic person, and I believe we need to go THAT deep and THAT extreme to bring joy back to the softest and darkest places within ourselves.