Sick & Tired: One Woman's Journey to Less Stress

After much desperation, I spent over a year painstakingly researching and discovered that I had a rare genetic disease that had been overlooked my entire life. Read more at .

Words by Breanna Thomas // Images by Stacey Woodward

After the loss of my father, a complicated miscarriage, years of excessive work to avoid facing the discomfort of life, and a lifetime of unexplained poor health, I found myself wondering if I should close my business. I thought I was going to lose my marriage and/or my sanity.

Countless unsuccessful medical attempts to figure out why my health was failing left me crumbling inside and feeling incredibly hopeless. However, instead of giving up, I decided that I had worked too hard and still had too much left to share with this world before throwing in the towel. 

After much desperation, I spent over a year painstakingly researching and discovered that I had a rare genetic disease that had been overlooked my entire life. The proper treatment, perseverance, determination, and the will to live the life I knew I was meant for helped me transform from someone who could barely come out from underneath the covers some days into the strong, vibrant woman I always hoped I’d be.

That is, until a few months later when I became sicker than ever.

Every symptom I'd ever had seemed to return with a vengeance. I lost close to 20 pounds in a month. I spent much of my time on the bathroom floor.  My diet consisted of less than 10 things that didn't make me sick. I found my vision and hearing fading, the use of my arm dwindling, and my cognition diminishing fast. 

None of it made sense. I was terrified. 

Something was very wrong, yet no one could tell me why my body was giving out on me. 

Back to numerous doctors, this time even out of the country in hopes that specialists elsewhere could crack the code. A few super scary diagnoses were tossed around, lots of dollars spent, and many doctors disagreed on what was going on. 

Turns out I also had a very common, yet often overlooked, virus (in a non-contagious state) that in some people can wreak havoc in times of stress. The constant fighting of this virus caused my immune system to start attacking healthy tissues, which explained the drastic decline in my well-being. 

After much fine tuning of my treatment plan and a rigorous strategy for stress reduction, I began to feel a bit like myself again. While I'm still not even close to feeling 100%, I know I'm on my way. 

In my relentless pursuit of answers, I found thousands of people in online support groups who are incredibly ill and they're not sure why, but they're desperate for answers. 

Autoimmunity is on the rise. So is stress, which happens to be one of the biggest triggers for many of today's maladies. Yet making time for proper self-care seems to be on the decline, and it's something we can no longer keep neglecting. 

I share my story with you not because I want attention or sympathy. I share because I would like for anyone out there going through something similar to not feel alone. And for anyone out there who tends to push themselves too hard, stress too much, sleep too little, and feel like the caring for others is more important than caring for themselves, to knock it off.  

Our bodies are tough, but if we push them too hard they can revolt - and it's not always easy to figure out how to fix it when that happens. My wish is that we all take much better care of our well-being so we can be well enough to lead vibrant lives full of joy. 

In addition to this, I've learned a few of life's greatest lessons during this time and I'd love to share them with you:

1. Through struggle comes incredible strength.
2. We must not neglect proper self-care. 
3. No matter what, never give up on yourself.
4. Suffering silently does everyone a disservice, especially you.

The ebbs and flows of life can be interesting. Sometimes it's our health, our relationships, our finances, or other stressors that can throw us for a loop. No matter the cause of discomfort in life, remember that things can and do get better.

Progress may not always come fast or be linear, but it's attainable - even in baby steps.

As women, we can be quite hard on ourselves. There's not a single one of us (myself included) that doesn't expect a bit too much from ourselves at times. Constant pushing to be better doesn't always make things so, sometimes it just wears us out. 

No matter the challenge, no matter what anyone thinks is possible, remember to trust in yourself. You know how you feel. You know how you want to feel. Sometimes not having all the answers can make us want to give up. In those moments of shame, confusion, incredible sadness, pain, or despair, I ask you to remember that you're not alone - even if it feels like it. 

Please don't give up on yourself. Your health and happiness are worth fighting for. 

In the meantime, know that there are others out there who empathize with you. Through our discomfort in the challenges of life we know what it's like to, at times, feel the pain of hopelessness. While we can't take away your challenges, we want you to know you're not alone in your struggles and that you are so very loved. 

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Breanna Thomas, a Licensed Aesthetician and Professional Makeup Artist for almost 15 years, helps hard working, health minded, high achievers learn how to have clearer skin and less wrinkles using a holistic total body approach that enables them to feel their best so they can confidently share their gifts with the world. 


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