jennifer Downing

@jenniferdowning
New Mom; Adrenal Insufficiency; Lyme Disease; Anxiety. Yoga Therapy. Perinatal Mental Health & Autoimmune Disease Advocate.
Community Voices

Down Dog & Pass it On: Parental Benefits to Baby & Me Yoga

<p>Down Dog & Pass it On: Parental Benefits to Baby & Me Yoga</p>
Community Voices

A New Reality in Mom Stress

<p>A New Reality in Mom Stress</p>
Community Voices
Community Voices
Community Voices

From Grief to Building Community

The pandemic has impacted the immunosuppressed community everywhere. It’s clear COVID-19 is uniting us all during this time of uncertainty, from the sudden surge of masks being sewed around the U.S. to an abundance of online support groups all over social media.

I struggled initially with what I was feeling. I am already used to being mindful of germs and conscious of the world around me as someone with adrenal insufficiency and Lyme Disease. What I realized after the first week were the ups and downs of being at home and ultimately the feeling of grief. The more I scrolled through Facebook the more it seemed this natural, human reaction was a loss to something more than the usual caution within the autoimmune community. It’s even more than the grief of eating out with friends or family. It’s the ultimate loss of connection and hugging that friend. Our connection turned to computer screens and fear of whether it’s safe to see someone in the flesh. It hit me like a ton of bricks when I almost ended up in a panic dropping off prescriptions at a pharmacy, even with every precaution. This is the new normal, and I had to let go of my usual experiences. The few social situations where I felt safe suddenly didn’t anymore.

It’s good for us to remember grief is a typical reaction to the loss of something special to us. Scrolling through your Facebook feed and missing that friend is ok. We all feel and mourn for the simplicities that vanished with COVID-19. In life we find release and welcome the new, with these times being no different.

We all play a vital role in our grief because of the unknown stresses that ultimately get stored in our bodies. Even if you feel you are handling these times well, it’s not uncommon for our nervous systems to be on alert. Find connection with your favorite teachers, friends, reach out on Facebook, and take that extra step of remembering the mind, body connection that will help us all get through until we can be in person. Studies are being completed on how social interaction can be “felt” more naturally over video calls so we can all feel secure and at ease once more.

Letting go is not easy, sometimes letting it be and sitting with it will help you through this time. Until the world returns to its new “normal” know you are truly not alone. Your feelings are not uncommon. Together, in the meantime, we can all take steps towards wellness and balance. I too am missing what was, and looking forward to what will be. As humans, we all are.

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Community Voices

The challenge of coming into your new self

It starts with a scene of happier times, remembering a body that no longer belongs to you. In my mind, it’s like the show Walking Dead – there is the me before the apocalypse, and the one who is left after. The ups and downs are like a cycle of #Grief mentally, and the physical leaves lasting impacts. The physical impacting the mental and wondering if we can ever get better. Why did I feel improvements and tank AGAIN? For the longest time it was hard to separate that feeling of extreme disappointment. Lyme and #ChronicIllness will respond to treatment and then won’t, it’s an endless cycle of symptoms, feeling better, not feeling better, new treatments, new doctors, and wondering if there is an end in sight. Then the challenge set in. I would fight this mentally, be mad, and stay in my rut or I could choose to heal mine, body, and energetically. It was all in how I was thinking about my circumstances. Along the way it clicked with me that there are benefits to Lyme and chronic illnesses. Through therapy, yoga and five years of adjusting I’ve come to realize that I LOVE the person I am today, and I can thank lyme for allowing her to shine. Lyme gave me gifts I didn’t have before, like a love for yoga – something I heard doctor after doctor recommend to me. I had my challenge but it took me years to finally accept it: I decided to surrender. The biggest gift was giving myself permission to slow down. I’ve never stopped treating or giving up in that way. I decided that my challenge was to embrace the new life lyme had given and to change my thinking. I had to take this disease day by day and learn to listen to my own intuition on what my body needed. We forget the importance of this during our healing. We need to tap into our parasympathetic nervous system and out of the Adrenaline rush, as our nervous systems have a hard time coming out of fight or flight. Finally taking the challenge to be a ‘type A personality in recovery’ is one of the best decisions I’ve made. I still work full time, but I chose a job with more work from home, not only allowing me to keep that type of job that I enjoy but also gives me energy to pursue teaching yoga and focusing on healing. The gift of teaching yoga and focusing on mindfulness is not something I would have had without #LymeDisease. Now I can’t imagine life any other way. The healing journey is a mind and body connection. It’s an acceptance of who we can become once we are able to mourn the person we used to be. How many times I’ve said ‘I just want to be able to do that again.’ New superpowers and talents are waiting for us all. We are all human and allowed to have self pity moments, And I’m convinced those low points are what eventually helps us to realize we are meant for more. Whether you’re in bed, unable to work, or able to live a more typical daily life with symptoms, we all deserve to come to peace with our new selves. We may be on treatments long term, short term, or have the bad moments; what allows us to heal comes from embracing the bad and allowing the good. It’s about recognizing that our lives are not a scene from the Walking Dead, but a down moment – and that moment is temporary. You’ll have good days and bad days. Sad and happy days. Motivated and slump days. Allow it all to happen and remember tomorrow is a new start. Allow your challenge to come to you for there is no right or wrong – the only goal is shift into that new, beautiful self that is waiting for you.

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