When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny. ― Paulo Coelho
Two decades ago, mysterious illness turned my life upside down. Unbeknownst to me, an undetected, continuous air conditioning leak seeped through dry wall, creating an invisible yet toxic environment.
Until that point, I was a dedicated workaholic. Although my husband and I already had our own home business, I took another job for the health insurance. But, working extra long hours in a demanding corporate job, eating poorly and eliminating time for self care, actually deteriorated my health.
For the next year my body cried out with strange yet undiagnosed symptoms like fluorescent light blindness, intense headaches, lingering digestive discomfort reducing food intake to crackers and grapes, then insomnia, brain fog, memory loss, and exhaustion.
Traditional western medicine couldn’t help. Ulcer meds made me sicker. I was told I needed gall bladder surgery (without any diagnostics) and “It’s just stress. Live with it.”
But, I wasn’t living.
My life force dwindled to a mere flicker.
Imagine months of fatigue from the worst flu (or perhaps ccp/covid) that you’ve ever had. Friends and family could not understand why I had absolutely no oomph to do much of anything. My Christmas decorations still hung…at Easter time. An entire shopping complex was constructed in my locale without my realizing it. I went to work. Came home. Collapsed but couldn’t sleep. Then did it all over again.
Spiraling to a pit of darkness — physically and emotionally — I clearly recall the day I came home bursting into tears from exhaustion and frustration after yet another inconclusive test. I was at my lowest low. If only I could get a correct diagnosis I thought, then treatment could begin my road to recovery.
The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something… ― Randy Pausch
God Works in Strange Ways
Serendipitously, a friend led me to a naturopathic chiropractor several hours away who diagnosed me with the invisible illness of adrenal fatigue where you look completely fine on the outside but on the inside you feel like you are dying. A patient from Australia then led me to a clinic specializing in environmental illness where tests concluded toxic mold exposure as the culprit.
The Long Journey to Wellness
By this time, my overloaded system could only repair through natural remedies and supplements, dry heat sauna for detoxing, radical changes for diet and rest, and leaving that job.
My workaholic behavior transferred to regaining my health but I also learned that recovery is not a straight line — often two steps forward, one step back. Patience. Diligence.
After nearly 10 years of regularly engaging in Svaroopa Yoga, restorative Yoga Nidra, Chinese (not westernized) acupuncture, hand drumming, more gardening, the Tao, and additional lifestyle changes like prioritizing self-care, setting boundaries and learning to say no, my life force returned to where I can once again enjoy all activities and live life.
The Light in the Darkness
While I’ve always been a spiritual person, this heart wrenching experience deepened my spirituality. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone but it’s taught me to seek and find the gift in all situations.
Those who overcome great challenges will be changed, and often in unexpected ways. For our struggles enter our lives as unwelcome guests, but they bring valuable gifts. And once the pain subsides, the gifts remain. These gifts are life’s true treasures, bought at great price, but cannot be acquired in any other way. ―