There was a time in my life when it all broke apart, changed and was picked back up again to never be the same.
I am the oldest of 6, child of divorce and a very New York mother. She was super hard on each of us but mostly me as the oldest.
She wanted what was best for us and for each of us to grow up as strong people and forever in our truth.
My parents went through a pretty nasty divorce, and then again for my mom a second time.
My escape was theater, and working at a sneaker store in the mall where if she was mad she would pull me out of either as punishment.
The stress manifested itself in 2006 as a debilitating undiagnosed auto immune disease called rheumatoid arthritis.
I woke up one morning during January 2006, in the worst pain I had ever felt. I could barely walk down the stairs and move my arms. It hurt to touch my feet to the ground.
My story became I was sick.
I would go to school and have to use the elevator because I couldn’t walk very well up or down the stairs.
As time went on and it became worse a trip to the ER finally showed that I had RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis).
Which for those of you that don’t know is an auto immune disease that shows no signs until it’s in full force. One day your body starts attacking your joints by breaking down the nearby cartilage and eventually bone tissue. It causes immense pain in the effected joints and can create immobility.
All of a sudden my life as I knew it would never be the same. This meant surfing was over, snowboarding was over, theater was over and working on my feet was over.
To literally be able to walk one day and gradually decline the next was hard to swallow.
So I adapted to telling myself that I was sick.
I missed prom, I quit everything and went into a depression.
By the time I was ready for college that coming fall I still couldn’t walk down the stairs properly.
It was scary, and completely kept the sickness alive inside of me.
It’s crazy how that happens, we all do it. the negatives, the why me’s unable to get out of the downward spiral of depression.
We become the story we tell ourselves.
As the doctors helped me get the RA under control, I went to college and taught myself how to walk down the stairs.
Second semester freshman year, the doctors wanted me to try a new infusion medication.
I reluctantly obliged while my intuition told me not to.
The thing was that I desperately wanted my story to change so I did whatever it took.
The day we were in the infusion room at the hospital 1/3 of the bag in I became highly allergic.
They released me with Benadryl and steriods and left me on my way.
12 hours later I started to feel strange and lost my taste buds. My aunt rushed me to the hospital where I went Into anaphylaxis in the emergency room.
I was admitted for 4 days pumped up with steriods and gained 14 pounds in that short amount of time. I walked Into the hospital fitting my clothes and out of the hospital fitting nothing.
Deeper I went into the depression, deeper I went into the feeling of unworthiness.
Why me, why now, I would keep asking myself.
Most days it was hard for me to get out of bed. The joint pain was too unbearable.
This couldn’t be my life anymore. This couldn’t be my story.
I went back to school determined to turn this all around.
After 6 months I finally lost weight but the pain had come back in my knees.
I went to an orthopedic surgeon where he said “Annah, I’m very sorry to tell you by the time you finish school you will need two knee replacements and 2 shoulder replacements so you should plan accordingly”.
This was when I was 19. Which meant I had 3 years to “plan accordingly”.
This time, my internal response was F**k that. I’m done with this disease.
I was going to change my story and therefore change my life.
I was no longer going to take life seriously.
I was going to live in the light always.
I was going to give thanks every day for being alive.
I was going to change my story from I am sick to I am worthy.
So i went to a nearby tattoo place right from the doctors office and got believe on my right wrist (because the book the secret) to remind myself every day to believe that this was no longer going to be my story.
It’s been a very long road full of good days and bad days but by changing my diet I have been able to have more of the good days.
I’m able to travel, and even go hiking.
This year I will be 29 and have yet to get one surgery. I remind myself every morning when I wake up that I am worthy, and that I have the power to create my life.
The thing is, if I hadn’t had this disease I don’t know if I would ever live the way that I do. I don’t know if I would be as spiritual as I am. And I’m not even quite sure if I would have ever looked at the world the way that I do.
RA changed my life.
It taught me to take life in strides, day by day, moment by moment.
RA showed me how diet truly effects our health and how when we live in our power and change our story everything around us changes for the better.
I still have days when I can’t quite get out of bed but those are just reminders for me that I am giving into the old story. So I get up and I move even if it’s just to the next room.
The difference now is that as much as I still have RA, the RA no longer has me.
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