No matter how strong any of us think we are, sooner or later, we will need others to lean on. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Eccles. 4:9-12
I have a big problem. I take on other peoples’ burdens as my own and try to fix them. While I treasure my ability to empathize and care for others, when it is “unbalanced”, it leads to disaster. I have this tendency to “put on my cape” and try to save the world. We all have natural tendencies towards certain things. Sometimes they are a strength; sometimes they are a weakness. These tendencies may also “fuel” our sickness.
Where am I going with this? Well, Candida didn’t just happen in a vacuum. I was very healthy and strong before all this. In my situation, there was a long line of physical and emotional stress that I can trace back over the last couple of years. Stress beats on our bodies over time. Not only the day to day stresses, but also those intense moments of stress. I am not a doctor, but I will explain the best I can from what I have learned. When we get an “adrenaline rush” during stress, our bodies create sugar so we can “fight or flee”. Our insulin production goes down, so we have access to all that sugar for energy instead of breaking it down. With this in mind, when I modify my diet to cut carbs and sugars because carbs and sugars “feed” the Candida, my body (under stress) undermines that by creating its own sugar. In other words, I can be doing everything right in my diet, but I can still be brought down by stress and my body’s response to it.
When I don’t feel well, the world is a different place. My responses are different. My relationships are also colored by it. I talked about this in my last blog post. At times I felt like an abstract character in an abstract painting. I still have to work and maintain my life. Undergoing dietary, body, and emotional changes are part of this new or temporary life. I can’t tell you how many times I wanted to tell people, “This is not me, I hope I will be back someday.” Or “I’m really not a picky eater. I am sorry to be such a pain.” There were lots of days I felt sorry for myself. Then, there were other days when I thought, “what right do I have to be upset about my sickness? There are terminally ill people that would probably love to go on a diet to get better. I have a chance to get better. I should be thankful.”
In the beginning, I didn’t know much about my condition or the validity of it, so I kept it mostly to myself. I didn’t have the stamp of “Dr. approval”. I kept it secret as I tried to maintain my normal life. I sort of looked alright on the outside, except for the huge bags under my eyes and look of exhaustion, but on the inside, I was falling apart. All I knew was that if things didn’t change, I was going to drowned completely. I couldn’t doggy paddle my way out of this.
When I decided to embark on the detox, the first stage of the Candida diet, I sent out an email to a few friends and called a couple family members. I talked with my kids and my husband. Since I was already pretty thin, I wanted to make sure people knew this wasn’t a weight loss diet. It was for my health, and I didn’t know if I was capable following it. I needed prayer, support, and an open line of communication. I started the detox right after Thanksgiving. In fact, I still have a piece of pumpkin pie in the freezer in hopes that I may eat it someday.
Anyway, you need a group of people who love you enough to help you stay on the path. People, who you may call and desperately ask, “Can I eat pumpkin seeds during my detox? They are good for you.” And they say, “No, I’m sorry.” People who will let you cry without trying to fix you. People who will say, “I don’t think you should eat that, but this looks really good.”
My husband and kids have helped me through food temptations. They have helped me find gluten-free, dairy free, sugar free recipes. They have encouraged me when I was going through “die-off” symptoms. Die off is when the Candida is being starved out and you experience more intense symptoms as Candida releases more toxins in your body. They also acted as buffers when people asked about my weight.
My group of friends I was emailing were also wonderful. They would pray for me or send me scripture. They would encourage me when I would have set-backs and celebrate with me when I had victories.
During the detox, I mostly felt better. I dropped to about 113 lbs. I looked “skeletal”, but felt better. People at work were very concerned, but I reassured them that I would eventually gain the weight back. That I had to detox in order to feel better. It was hard to stay disciplined, but I could feel the results. There were a couple of days, though, where I felt like I was being detoxed emotionally as well. I remember the 6th day out of 7 where I cried most of the day. Unfortunately, the kids had a field trip that day. I remember someone I had never met prayed over me. She prayed about things I didn’t even disclose to her. What an encouragement! Wow, during all this time, I was never alone.
Never underestimate the power of walking together. You may feel so depleted, but at just the right moment, you could receive encouragement. In order to have that, you need your backup singers. You will be making so many decisions on your own, doing what you think is best. Others can offer insight from outside the sickness, from outside the darkness. You will be glad to have backup to provide that light you are searching for. You just have to be intentional about who are the best people to recruit and don’t forget to ask for help often.