Home uncategorized My Autoimmune Disease, A Journey into Mindfulness | The Diagnosis – Part 1/3

My Autoimmune Disease, A Journey into Mindfulness | The Diagnosis – Part 1/3

June 30, 2019

There I was at Melbourne airport, another tearful goodbye. After two years of a long distance relationship, one would think I was used to it. I was saying farewell to my love, Greg, the man I was willing to move 10,000 miles away from my support system to start a new life in Australia. 

This time I was headed back to the US after three months of a relentless unsuccessful job search.  The hope of employment was dashed by work visa challenges. I needed to return home to make some money. On the bright side our love flourished, both of us fully committed to our relationship.

Sweltering humidity hugged me when I landed into the midwestern summer.

I arrived feeling emotionally depleted, physically exhausted and fearful of the unknown.

I trusted Greg and I would endure, but the rest of my life felt like a crossroads with no roadmap. 

My gameplan was to find freelance photography work and crash at my bestie’s while waiting for my visa to be processed. But the unstable feeling in my gut was fuelled by anxiety. This turned into horror on day one of my return when my upset tummy began passing bright red blood. Graphic, I know.

What started as some startling red drops in the toilet bowl shifted into massive amounts of blood loss, uncontrollable diarrhea, pain, dramatic weight loss and zero quality of life.

Angst consumed every moment of every day.

Thoughts fraught with agony: What should I eat, why is this happening, I have no health insurance, I’m a loser with no job and no place to live, what if I’m dying? Fear silenced me as I desperately hoped it would just disappear.

Eventually, the secret came out. I moved in with my parents, my mother caring for my bedridden body and debilitated spirit.  My bowels felt like they were being eaten alive.  A colonoscopy diagnosed me with Ulcerative Colitis, an incurable autoimmune disease of an ulcerated colon. I was prescribed steroids and an anti-inflammatory drug.

The despair vacated when the steroids immediately stopped the bleeding.

Relief rinsed through my cells as my body began to right itself.

With each dosage, I felt the fire in the depths of my large intestine begin to cool. I could eat again without worry, I started to gain weight while slowly regaining strength.

The diagnosis was inconceivable. I was always such a healthy person, a yogi, a vegetarian, how could this be true? After so much suffering, I was bewildered by the fact that some tiny little pills could instantly stop the symptoms. Perhaps it was just a one-off episode? Accepting the disease felt implausible; denial settled in.

Anxiety recklessly swept through the corners of my mind, obsessive thoughts of the future superseded sleep, peace was elusive.

Thanks to my brother I had managed to secure some freelance creative work, but the rest of my life was in limbo. Was I to sit and wait for a visa which could take years to come through, where would I live, what about long term employment, will Greg and I make it, what if the sickness comes back?

My yoga and meditation practices were a ghost. My only routine revolved around the drugs. During my recovery, I turned 37, but the Tara I knew and loved had died. I was defeated.

So what does this have to do with mindfulness? Everything. I had lost my mind during the sickness, a shadow of my former self. Little did I know, rock bottom was still waiting for me.

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4 comments

Catherine Chau Nguyen July 1, 2019 at 4:42 am

Oh Tara!! Thank you for being so selfless in your sharing! Your generosity in such personal recounts is testament that healing and transformation can occur with something as special as “connection”. Connection to yourself, connection to your family, connection to the wider community.. Cant wait to for the whole part series!
Much gratitude,

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Tara B July 8, 2019 at 2:37 am

Thank you, Catherine. You’re right, connection helps us to heal and transform. xt

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Tim July 2, 2019 at 11:09 pm

Thanks Tara for being so brave and telling your story about Your reaction to auto immune disease. The welter of thoughts sounds authentic. You provide so much support and solace to others and I’m pleased you have solid support around you. A small blessing in times of crisis. I look up to you for inspiration in being mindful and kind to oneself. I also just like the way you go about things. I’m looking forward to reading on. Good luck my friend.

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Tara B July 8, 2019 at 2:36 am

Thank you, Tim. Your words touch me deeply. I appreciate you, xt

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