This must be how Lil Wayne felt when he released his first Sorry for the Wait mixed tape (no comment on the second one). Or how director Malcolm D. Lee must’ve felt after his film sequel The Best Man Holiday hit theaters, 14 years after the classic, 1999 original… ‘Cause it literally took me forever to post this last part of my testimony. If this happened to be a mixed tape or a film, I’d probably title it, “My Apologies for the Delay” or “The Worst Blogger of the New Year,” respectively. Thankfully, this is neither.
And we’re back. Now, picking up where we left off…
I realized that there were some things I had to do (aside from taking medication every day) to really start witnessing some changes for the better in my life. I’m going to share those things with you here:
I talked to God: I prayed. A lot. Like I literally had full-fledged conversations with God about what and how I was feeling every day. And the more I spoke to Him, the more I felt His presence. The more I felt His presence, the better I felt physically, mentally and spiritually.
Encouraged myself: It took me developing a whole new mindset towards my condition to really start seeing some miraculous things happen in my life. I literally forced myself to think positively, every day. I would wake up in the morning, look at myself in the mirror and recite a list of affirmations my Aunt Janice had sent me: “I am healthy.” “I am strong.” “I am thriving.” “I am beautiful.” “I am grateful.” “I am flourishing.” “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” “I am powerful beyond measure.”
Then, I would sit and read Psalms 121 — over, and over again — until it was stuck in my head:
I will lift up my eyes to the hills–
From whence comes my help?
My help comes from the Lord,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon at night.
The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;
He shall preserve your soul
The Lord will preserve your going out and your coming in
From this time forth, and forevermore.
Listened to my body: I was EXTREMELY cautious about my intake of certain foods. Whenever I would eat something, I paid very close attention to how it made me feel. I noticed that whenever I would eat bread or pasta, it would significantly enhance my symptoms (which included severe muscle inflammation and fatigue). That’s when I cut gluten — which is typically found in wheat-based foods — out of my diet. Generally, people with myositis and other inflammatory conditions (i.e. Celiac’s Disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.) have a hard time consuming foods with gluten because it increases their inflammation.
So I ate a lot of green, leafy salads, and made sure to stay pumped up on Vitamin D, calcium and Omega 3’s (cod-liver oil was my best friend). I would also drink a series of concoctions my mom would make for me every day: a fresh fruit and spinach smoothie followed by a shot of wheatgrass, a glass of carrot and celery juice and a cup of fresh ginger root tea (ginger root is very rich in anti-inflammatory properties, and it helped me tremendously).
Stayed lifted: My theme song was “Sweet Life” by Frank Ocean, which stayed on repeat every day. I would listen to the cheerful melody and sing the upbeat lyrics as I took my medication and drank whichever previously listed health concoction my mom would whip up for the day.
Focused on my vision: I would literally sit for hours working towards my newfound vision: Free E.G.O. Apparel (the acronym stands for Empowerment, Gratitude & Optimism). Although I was still trying to recover from my condition at the time, I became inspired to start something that would encourage others to develop and maintain a positive way of thinking. Free E.G.O. was my outlet to focus on helping and inspiring others through my testimony, rather than focusing on my illness.
I FORGAVE: I remember when my condition first surfaced, I went to see a holistic doctor. He told me that a lot of autoimmune, inflammatory diseases are developed from harboring feelings of stress and bitterness. He asked me if there was anyone in my life that I hadn’t forgiven, and at the time, I couldn’t think of anyone. But not too long after that visit, I realized that there was someone I had been harboring bitter emotions towards — one of my sorority sisters. She was actually someone I had developed a friendship with before we pledged together back in college. Right before we graduated, we had a big disagreement that put a damper on our relationship. She was also getting married that summer, so I made a personal vow — no pun intended — to not attend her wedding. But as time went on, I made the decision to let go of my negative emotions and support her on her big day. So that’s exactly what I did. Although I was still battling my condition at the time of her wedding, it seemed like right after that, my health improved significantly. About a month and a half later, the doctor told me that the dermatomyositis had gone into complete remission.
Oftentimes, we miss the fact that the act of forgiveness isn’t for the people who hurt us… It’s actually for us. And for me, forgiveness, along with the other things I mentioned above, played a huge role in my journey to wellness.
That period of my life taught me a lot. And even now, I reflect on everything I went through because it helped me to realize my true purpose: To encourage others through my experiences.